It’s going to be almost three years since the original BlackBerry Storm 9530 debuted, and back then it was touted to be the phone that was going to beat the iPhone dominance. That never happened, but RIM did come out with BlackBerry Storm2 9550 which was much better, but still not good enough to take on the rivals. Now, RIM for the third time is giving its shot at the all touchscreen form factor with BlackBerry Torch 9850. So is third time going to be the charm?

The BlackBerry Torch 9850 isn’t the best in terms of design, and it gives you the feeling that it is inferior in quality and craftsmanship compared to the two BlackBerry Storm smartphones. For instance, the four oddly proportioned buttons and optical touchpad at the bottom ruins the design somewhat as it looks like a bunch of bricks. Nevertheless, it was comfortable to touch and lit up well too. Moving on, the phone is much thinner as it’s only 0.45 inches thick. Also, tipping the scales at just 4.76 oz, it is the lightest of all in the touch-only category. Flip the phone and you get a classy feeling as the chrome trim that rounds all the way around makes it stand out on an otherwise glossy black plastic. On the top right edge of the phone is the standard audio jack together with a tiny volume rocker that’s not only hard to press but is also placed quite low on the chassis. In the middle is a new tiny little nub that can be used for muting the phone. Go a little further down and you find the RIM trademark Convenience Key which by default takes pictures. On the top of the phone you will find the lock button which is quite big and can sometimes lead to pocket-unlocking as it locks or unlocks when it is squeezed anywhere on that button. On the left of the phone you will find the micro-USB port. The screen is a 3.7 inch WVGA display and on the back of the phone is the 5MP camera with a pretty decent auto focus lens.


The BlackBerry Torch 9850 is way more responsive than the BlackBerry Storm2 9550. This is in part thanks to the improved 1.2GHz processor and the 768MB RAM compared to the meager 528MHz CPU of the predecessor. The processor is also to be thanked for clearing up the frustrating memories of lockups and slowdowns that the OS 4.7 used to have with the original Storm.

Although there are many evolutionary steps taken by the full touch BlackBerry that RIM can be proud of, but the OS 7 still leaves us longing for more from the platform. This is mainly because it’s not exactly a fresh idea rather it has many similar elements with the previous OS versions for instance being reliant heavily on the menu system. 

Personalization on the BlackBerry Torch 9850 is rather limited. It only allows for changing background wallpaper and the placement of icons within the app panel.  As we know, there is no physical keyboard with this phone, so you have to rely on the portrait keyboard. Although this is BlackBerry’s largest screen ever on a phone, the keyboard is surprisingly still a bit challenging to use due to the constricted layout. This may be due to the buttons that are tiny in size and the narrow body of the phone doesn’t help either. With every BlackBerry phone, the email experience is just fantastic. The same can be said with the BlackBerry Torch 9850 as it caters to power users with push email support. Although the intuitive and straightforward nature is what makes it great, it could use some upgrades like the threaded conversations for instance. Either way, the extra space from the screen means less scrolling, which makes it all the more great.

Since there is no physical keyboard, you get the larger 3.7-inch WVGA screen which has been the talking point with this phone.  It provides bright pictures, good contrast in all, just impressive. Besides, it also gives the edge-bending viewing angels we got with the BlackBerry Bold 9930.

Just like the new BlackBerry Bold, the BlackBerry Torch 9850 comes with a 5MP camera on the back, just that it has got a proper autofocus lens this time.  Although this means there is the risk of genuinely capturing an out-of-focus image but macro shots with this camera have been better compared to the EDof lens on the BlackBerry Bold 9930. The camera as a whole does a good job at taking pictures, with good color reproduction.  Even though video recording could only be done at 720p, the footage turned out reasonably well. One notable issue with the recording was the jiggle distortion. Something that happens time and again with BlackBerry phones is the absence of a front-facing webcam, and this phone is no different.

When it came to web browsing, we must admit we were a little worried we might be facing the same old problems like the previous touchscreen enabled BlackBerry phones. However, this time we were to be proven wrong by the BlackBerry Torch 9850. To begin with, pages load quickly with 3G connections and not only that, you can start browsing the page even while it’s loading. Another  thing that’s worth a mention is the responsive navigational controls which shows how big a part the processor and RIM’s Liquid Graphics technology play in providing one of the most sensual web browsing experiences on a smartphone.

Moving on to phone performance, the BlackBerry Torch 9850 didn’t do too well in terms of call quality as voices on both ends sounded shrill. Speakerphone was just nice. Battery life to raises some questions about the phone. It sucks up a lot of juice as even with average use, at the end of the day you are left with a little more than a quarter of battery life.  So, don’t expect to go more than a day without a recharge.


Pros and Cons
The high resolution display was much to our liking. What caught the eye most with the BlackBerry Torch 9850 is the ultra smooth web browsing experience.

However, as most RIM phones, this one needs some improvements to its platform. Call quality and battery performance wasn’t too good.

With the BlackBerry Torch 9850, we have a phone that’s got the touchscreen form factor done right. It’s a great phone especially for those who surf the web a lot.

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