BlackBerry Torch 9800 review: Living the Olympic creed

GSMArena team, 24 September 2010.
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Final words

So did RIM succeed in creating a phone that’s friendly (and trendy) enough for the average user but still secure and dependable for the typical business target? In one word – no. But you know, smartphones are complicated creatures and describing them in one word is never quite fair.

The thing is the traditional BlackBerry users are the ones who pay the bills. So RIM wouldn’t want to turn its back on them. They had no choice but keep the familiar interface and the usual controls. It seems existing BlackBerry users will account for most of the Torch sales anyway. Why wouldn’t they – the Torch is a worthy upgrade over any previous BlackBerry phone (even the BB Storm 2).

So, sorry to those of you who might have expected an incredible overnight change. It will take several more generations of BlackBerry devices before it goes all mainstream and commercial. It makes sense to ensure you keep your current customers aboard before you start exploring new grounds.

That’s why the Torch is a device that’s hard to recommend to newcomers. It’s only good enough to compete with mid-range multimedia devices. And the comparison will not be in its favor – the cost of the Torch is sky high. But let’s be honest. Even if RIM did go all in with a shiny new interface and multimedia power, luring the masses over from their iPhones, Desires and Galaxies would be a tall task.

To put things in some perspective let’s give you an overview of the phones you can get for a similar amount of cash.

Any of the Samsung Galaxy S versions will give you an immensely superior Super AMOLED display, better performance and HD video recording. Those are also coming with what is currently arguably one of the top smartphone OS’s available so the user experience will be a decider too. Not to mention bonus features such as DivX playback, the digital compass, etc.

Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S

The Motorola MILESTONE will serve those of you who demand a QWERTY keyboard. The metal body and the lower price also count in its favor here.

Motorola MILESTONE
Motorola MILESTONE

The iPhone 4 will give you nearly three times the screen resolution of the Torch as well as better performance and vastly superior number of applications. Not to mention the much friendlier interface and stuff like Full HD playback.

Apple iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 4

We could go on with this list but we guess we’ve made our point by now. There isn’t much sense comparing it to the Palm Pre Plus – which otherwise looks like a relevant candidate. Ironically, they share a fundamental contradiction. The Pre has an inspired and creative touch OS and perhaps doesn’t desperately need a QWERTY keyboard. The Torch is the usual solid BlackBerry device, on which touchscreen is no more than an add-on.

Palm Pre Plus
Palm Pre Plus

The Torch has a price tag that sends it head-on against the industry finest. And the closed-ecosystem kind of mindset doesn’t make it any easier for it to compete with all of them.

On the other hand, if you absolutely need the BlackBerry services you won’t even be considering any of those hard-hitters. In that case you might just be happy enough to find that the Torch is a step in the right direction. The journey will be long though.

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