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RIM BlackBerry Torch 9810 review

Verdict

An improvement to the original, but not enough to keep up with the best of the smartphone competition

Review Date: 19 Oct 2011

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £41.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Buy it now for: £160
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

Apple’s iPhone stands astride the smartphone industry like a colossus – millions have been sold in the past four years, and that trend shows no sign of slowing. Yet for all Apple’s dominance there’s still a significant number of people for whom an iPhone will never be the answer – and for many of them, it’s the lack of a keyboard that rankles.

Despite RIM’s recent service troubles, then, we suspect the Bold 9900 will be a success. It combines a styling overhaul with the addition of a touchscreen remarkably successfully. We’re not so convinced about the new BlackBerry Torch 9810, though.

RIM BlackBerry Torch 9810

That’s partly because there doesn’t seem to be much that's new. Physically, the new Torch is identical to its predecessor. It’s still a little frumpy looking, comparatively thick and weighty, and RIM has done nothing about the rather rattly, flexy build quality and awkward lip surrounding the keyboard. This makes typing feel more cramped than it should do, and in particular makes the Alt and Shift keys uncomfortable to press.

Look closer, however, and there are some improvements. The 3.2in screen resolution has been bumped up, from 360 x 480 to 480 x 640; this still isn't anything special in a world where even 480 x 800 screens are beginning to look old hat, but at least it’s a good performer. Our tests show its brightness is up there with the best smartphones at 444cd/m2 and contrast is excellent too. The camera now records video at 720p, to go with the 5-megapixel camera on the rear, which boasts a flash, image stabilisation, autofocus and is impressively responsive.

The processor and memory have been boosted, too, to 1.2GHz and 768MB from 640MHz and 512MB respectively. In combination with the latest version of RIM’s smartphone OS (BlackBerry OS 7), this remedies the original handset’s biggest flaw – performance. The Torch now feels as responsive and fluid as most other flagship smartphones; the benchmarks back this impression up. The phone completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in a rapid 2,258ms.

RIM BlackBerry Torch 9810

There are still some niggles, though. Page render speed remains off the pace. Our tests repeatedly saw heavy web pages load at speeds the best Android and iOS phones would be embarrassed by: seven seconds for the desktop BBC homepage over a fast Wi-Fi link is nothing to write home about. There’s still no native support for Flash, and battery life is disappointing. After our standard 24-hour battery test, the gauge on the Torch’s battery had dipped to 50% - worse than the 9800. The new Torch, inexplicably, has a lower-capacity battery than the old one.

These aren't insurmountable problems, and the updates are all welcome, but the problem for the Torch is that it still doesn’t feel terribly modern, and the price is simply too high. The updates are welcome, yes, but now that the Bold is touch too – and with a screen that’s just as good – it feels as if it isn't only the rest of the smartphone market that’s left the Torch to flounder, but also RIM itself.

Author: Jonathan Bray

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User comments

Are you going to review the Torch 9860? The full touch screen one

By james016 on 19 Oct 2011

RIM at risk!

If RIM can't get its smartphone woes sorted out soon, it'll goto the wall like its Canadian brother Nortel. Apple now owns 97% of internet smartphone traffic. RIM cannot live on the remaining 3%. Something needs to be done...FAST!

ashane
http://androidgeektips.blogspot.com/

By ashane on 19 Oct 2011

Dear RIM

It's over.

By gavmeister on 19 Oct 2011

RIM

I don't know what all the RIM bashing is about. I have owned both the Blackberry Torch and the Iphone. The Blackberry wins hands down for one simple reason - Email. If, like me, you receive a lot of emails but don't read them all, the Iphone is unworkable as the only message counter is for unread emails. The only way of knowing if you received new mail is to keep tabs of the last unread message count. On the Blackberry phones, a visual message indicator and flashing light tell you that you received a new message since your last visit to your inbox. Another big difference is that network volumes are much lower. Leave roaming switched on when travelling abroad and your Iphone will leave you with a very large bill. On a Blackberry, only part of the message is transferred to the handset in a compressed format, meaning that data volumes for email are tiny. True, games are much better on an Iphone, but you soon get bored of them as these are not really the purpose of a mobile phone.

By DGoodman on 20 Oct 2011

I'm not bashing RIM

I simply stated that it's over. Nokia 800 will be my next phone. With Office and Outlook onboard I anticipate it being a formidable email proposition, as well as proper web browsing etc. You snooze you lose. With RIM's execrable recent offerings (9900 battery doesn't last a day? hello?) - they have snoozed. And they will lose.

By gavmeister on 21 Oct 2011

Great phone

"flexy build quality and awkward lip surrounding the keyboard" was the same review comments about the previous torch. This is simply not an issue. Even the PCPro article in "real world" a few months ago said as much and disagreed with the reviewers comments. I have been using the Torch for a few months and find it a great phone to use.

By jonno4002 on 21 Oct 2011

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