Introduction, Features and Specifications
The new range of Blackberry OS 7 devices by Research in motion (RIM) has a lone full touchscreen device trying to fight the powerhouses running Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. The Torch 9860 has the looks that can kill and a mean processor under the hood. But the major question is whether a company known for making sturdy and reliable business smartphones is able to pull a rabbit out of the hat with this device? Will RIM manage to find the right market for the Torch 9860?
Features and Specs
The Torch 9860 is a full touchscreen phone with a 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen with new RIM proprietary liquid graphics technology that promises a smother touchscreen experience. The display has resolution of 480x800 which is good enough. However, the colours look vibrant and are great for viewing images and videos.
A 1.2 GHz processor under the hood of the Torch 9860 provides the juice to run Blackberry OS 7. The phone, however, has 2.5GB internal storage, which is less, but you can expand the storage space up to 32GB with memory cards. And as usual all your connectivity needs are handled by the regular Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS. I wonder why RIM didn’t add the Near Field Communications (NFC) chip on all its new line-up of Blackberry OS 7 devices. The Torch 9860 doesn’t have it either.
The 5MP camera on the Torch 9860 has LED flash and can capture 720p videos at 25fps. The Torch 9860 can handle a variety of media formats. In the music front the phone can play MP3/WMA/eAAC+/FlAC/OGG formats and it can play DivX/XviD/MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264 video formats.
Once again, the pre-installed apps include your chat clients Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Gtalk. Social networking clients Twitter and Facebook are also bundled. Make sure that you download the updates for each of these apps. The bundled games include Brickbreaker and Wordmole and RIM is also giving away Gameloft’s Bubble Bash 2 free on the App store for a limited period because of the Blackberry outage.
Productivity and App Support
The comparison with other Blackberry smartphones starts here because when you don’t have the traditional QWERTY keypad and depend on a completely touchscreen experience you are essentially taking on the already established players as I mentioned earlier.
In terms of productivity features, the Torch 9860 is at par with the other Blackberry devices and I state once again that outside your desktop, laptop for emails the Blackberry smartphone is your best bet and the Torch 9860 is a warhorse in this regard. Setting up emails was a breeze post connecting to my Blackberry id.
The phone has a bundled a full-version of Documents-to-go app that takes care of your entire document needs. The app is really good for creating/editing documents on the go. The big screen is also an added advantage.
The onscreen keyboard on the Torch 9860 is no replacement for RIM's trademark QWERTY keypad.
The number of apps on the app store is miniscule. Why does it matter? Because a healthy app-ecosystem is vital in a world where iTunes and the Android market are fighting it out hard to outdo each other in the world of apps and especially because I really don’t know what is the target audience for the Torch 9860.
Design & Usability
Yes, the Torch 9860 is indeed a good-looking device. It has a personality that distinguishes it from the crowd and in my opinion RIM has got this aspect of the device right. Be it the metal strip running around the borders or the matt finish back cover in grey the Torch 9860 oozes business-class. It has dimensions of 120 x 62 x 11.5 mm and weighs 135 grams. Not too heavy not too light. Just about perfect to hold the phone in your hands.
The entire top portion of the phone is one huge lock button. The volume rocker, the camera button and the 3.5mm earphone jack flank the right side. The left side has the sole microUSB port. The trackpad is flanked on either side by two buttons. In the entire design my only grouse is with the plasticky feel of the physical buttons besides the trackpad. It takes away a bit of the sheen.
Let us come to the most important part of this review-the touchscreen experience. The touch sensitivity is really smooth and feels great to use but the fact that there is no vibrating feedback is a big letdown. The onscreen keyboard on the Torch 9860 is no replacement for RIM's trademark QWERTY keypad.
The new Blackberry OS 7 looks very similar to OS 6 except for the fact that RIM has done away with the transparent icons, which were present on the previous iteration of the OS. This is probably the best Blackberry OS and the experience on the Torch 9860 was good. However, please note that the accelerometer is not the fastest of the lot. It didn’t change from landscape to portrait and vice versa in a jiffy. The animations were quite jerky.
The visibility under sunlight was also really good. And the call quality was superb.
Browsing, Multimedia, Bottomline
The browser is yet again the same as the Torch 9810 and the Bold 9900 - sleeker, zippier and good-looking. But this time I have a problem. There is no flash support on the native browser. And it is a negative point for this phone particularly because of the big screen and the competition. However, please note that pages loaded extremely fast and the single column view for most websites made reading an easy job. The various keyboard shortcuts that existed persist with the new browser.
The camera on this phone is much better than the letdown that was the Bold 9900. It captures great colours and focusing is very fast (I recommend using the onscreen camera button). The phone also captures good 720p videos.
The loudspeaker is not as loud as the one on the Bold 9900 but is good enough nonetheless. Once again Blackberry Bold 9900 excels in the music department. The video player played 720p videos without any hassle. However, it couldn’t handle 1080p videos.
The biggest letdown on this phone is the battery life. It was fair to say the least. I had to charge the phone at least twice a day. Please buy a spare battery if you intend to travel somewhere.
The Torch 9860 is priced at Rs 26,790, which I believe is pretty decent for a Blackberry smartphone. However, it is still slightly expensive compared to the other dual-core Android monsters that are available in the market at around the same price range. Go for it if you are looking for a Blackberry device that can meet your media and productivity demands and if apps are not really vital to your usage.