RIM BlackBerry Torch review
BlackBerry 6 OS, 3.2in 480x360 display
RIM's previous touchscreen phones - the Storms I and II - were big departures for a company known for QWERTY thumb pads. With both a touchscreen and keypad, the Torch tries to be the best of both worlds – and it has an upgraded operating system optimised for the touchscreen.
BlackBerry OS 6 looks similar on the surface to previous versions, but dig deeper and there are plenty of changes. Tap the clock in the notification bar and you have quick access to a number of options such as WiFi, Bluetooth and alarms.
The application tray is now divided into sections, accessible by swiping side-to-side. The biggest change is the Options menu, which now uses friendly icons with a brief description of each instead of plain text. The menu’s layout is more logical than before, too.
The Torch is now more social network-friendly. There's a Social Feeds app that gathers status updates from seven services including Facebook and Twitter, as well as Blackberry Messenger, and the IM app lets you keep in touch with people on Windows Live, Yahoo!, Google and AIM. If you go through BlackBerry’s Internet Service (BIS) you can push IMAP and POP3 email to the handset, and synchronise with Google Calendar.
There’s an improved browser with support for gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. Text doesn't re-wrap to fit the zoomed page, as it does in Android's Webkit browser, unfortunately. When you need to enter text, a virtual keyboard pops up.
The physical keyboard is much easier to use, though. As with most BlackBerry thumb pads we found it quick to type on, with the shortcuts for numbers and symbols much easier to access than on the virtual version. It’s smaller than the BlackBerry Curve and Bold’s keyboards, and those with large fingers may find the lips at the bottom and under the screen edge impede typing.
We loved the display; it has a 480x360 resolution and is bright with vibrant colours. The 5-megapixel camera produces impressive images, but video is limited to VGA resolution. Battery life is reasonable; with casual use we found it lasted two days without charge. If you use Bluetooth, GPS or connect regularly to WiFi, you'll need to charge more often.
The physical keyboard makes the Torch heavier than other BlackBerrys, and it’s expensive. However, it’s the best BlackBerry we've used, mostly thanks to the updated operating system. BlackBerry's secure email makes it a great choice for business users, so it wins our Business Buy award.
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