BlackBerry Torch 9800 review: Living the Olympic creed

GSMArena team, 24 September 2010.
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User interface

Now this is probably the most interesting part of our review. With the level of user-friendliness of the BlackBerry OS 5 beingÖwellÖ basically rubbish in touchscreen terms, a major overhaul was in order for the 6th version to have a shot at wider appeal. And for a company that has limited experience in the area, the challenge is as formidable as it gets.

Knowing that OS 6 would set the course for the future generations of BlackBerry phones, they put in quite a lot of effort and the end result isnít bad at all. The BlackBerry OS 6 isnít going to rival Android or iOS just yet but those insulting monochrome menus are finally getting some color and a few extra icons, and have become more thumbable.

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The Torch is the BlackBerry OS 6 pioneer

Sweep gestures are enabled all over the thing too. Kinetic scrolling has been around since the Storm2 so it doesnít really count as a novelty.

The app tray has been modified and now you can pull it out to show between one and four rows of icons. Scrolling it sideways reveals your favorite (manually added) or most frequently used apps (auto generated).

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You get lists with frequently used and favorite apps

There are also Media and Download sections now so there is more than one way of sorting your apps.

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Media and downloaded app also have their own sections

The status area of the homescreen is clickable and allows quick toggling of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as quick access to the alarm clock and settings menu.

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Pressing the status area allows you to fiddle with the connectivity

A search button has been added below the status area, allowing you to quickly search the content of your Torch. It even letís you initiate quick searches in the BlackBerry App World or YouTube.

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The universal search is quick and comfortable

On the opposite end is the profile selection shortcut, while the area in between is reserved for notifications.

All in all, RIM has done a good job of improving the experience with the BlackBerry OS 6. The speed and response are likely to please users too, although some animations arenít buttery-smooth yet.

We still donít think however that the user-friendliness is up with the best.

Even if you arenít great fans of flat menus and the what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach and even if you donít mind pressing the Menu button all the time to see all available options. Itís just that some UI elements are somewhat illogically placed and you will need some time figuring it out. Oh, and some widgets for that homescreen wouldnít have hurt either.

Phonebook got a boost

The BlackBerry devices phonebooks have always been functional and all but until now they have beenÖ well letís say not that nice to look at. Not that BlackBerry 6 has blessed the Torch with the best contacts manager on the market but itís certainly way better looking than before.

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The phonebook is a bit easier to look at this time

Plus itís things like unlimited capacity, adding custom fields and having SNS (well, at least Facebook) integration that matter the most. You can search for a specific contact thanks to the kinetic scrolling or by just entering a part of their name with either the hardware or the virtual keyboard.

The contacts get listed alphabetically by first, last name or company and you can pick which of their recent activities to get displayed when checking out their profiles.

Like previous BlackBerry devices, the Torch lets you put your contacts in one of two categories - personal and business and then filter your phonebook accordingly. There is also grouping available this time and you can create as many custom groups as you like.

Editing a contact gives you a vast number of fields which are organized in several sub-groups. You can also replicate some of the fields and add custom ones easily so itís all cool.

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Editing a contact

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