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Review: BlackBerry 9800 Torch

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Menus Calls/Contacts Messaging Social Networking  


Making phone calls from the Torch is very similar to making calls from RIM's existing BlackBerry devices. Pressing the green send key opens the phone application. There are three tabs along the top for the dial pad, call log, and contacts. Whichever of these tabs was last open or used is the one that shows up when the send key is pressed.

The software dialpad is huge. It's easy to work with and use. The call log looks almost identical to current BlackBerries, but offers a few neat tweaks. The best is that the press-and-hold gesture has been added to the call log. Press-and-hold a call log, and the Torch offers up an options menu. Pressing the BlackBerry key has the same effect.

With a call in progress, the options presented to users are similar to what is seen on other touch devices, including quick access to the speakerphone, mute switch, and so on.

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RIM made more changes to the contact app's behavior than the phone's, but the two are tightly integrated. As mentioned earlier, the Universal Search function alone adds a lot of power to the Torch, BlackBerry 6, and how users will interact with their contacts. Being able to type a contact's name from the home screen and go directly into a call or the contact app really speeds up many communication functions of the Torch.

One thing it handles well is syncing Gmail / Google contacts. That will be a big deal for some users.

Seeing recent communications when viewing a contact card is handy information to have. Knowing when you last called or emailed someone at a glance. Want to call them? Press their number. Want to email them? Press the email address.

The contact app is supposed to cross-pollinate information with Facebook and Twitter, but I was unable to get this to work properly. For example, Facebook profile photos did not show up in my BlackBerry address book, despite their presence in the Facebook application.

For the most part, however, RIM sticks to its guns with the calling and contacts apps. They are amazingly useful, and work together seamlessly as one in order to make interacting with calls and contacts as painless and easy as possible.


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