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BlackBerry Torch 9810 review

02 May 2013

FOR

  • Admirable battery life
  • Great screen
  • Improved onscreen keyboard
  • Unrivalled contacts management
  • Great still camera with effective image stabilisation

AGAINST

  • No Flash internet
  • Video is fiddly to turn the light on
  • Poor music loudspeaker compared to Bold 9900
  • Not much difference to Torch 9800
  • No NFC and only 5MP camera mean it's not massively future-proof
  •  

 

Introduction

A fresh dose of oxygen or a new torchbearer? It doesn’t matter which one you think RIM needed to keep the flame alive. They got both in the new BlackBerry Torch 9810. Double the processing power, the new sped-up and brushed-up BlackBerry OS 7 and higher resolution displays, RIM know giving users what they need is no longer enough.

The new BlackBerry generation is encouraging users to want more. It’s not about suddenly waking the typical BlackBerry customer up to the business benefits of HD video. Nor is a bump in screen resolution and processing power enough to convince the masses to ditch their droids and iPhones and come flocking to BlackBerry.

It’s a step though.

   
BlackBerry Torch 9810 official shots

We ended our review of the original BlackBerry Torch 9800 by calling it a step in the right direction. Good to see, RIM have not lost momentum or changed direction. Quite the contrary. The BlackBerry Torch 9810 may as well be a manual on how to make a good sequel.

Key features:

  • Enhanced email and data security
  • 3.2" 16M-color TFT touchscreen of VGA resolution (480 x 640 pixels)
  • QWERTY slider
  • Quad-band GSM support and tri-band 3G with HSDPA
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n connectivity
  • GPS receiver and BlackBerry maps preloaded, digital compass
  • 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and a LED flash
  • HD video recording, 720p@30fps
  • Single-core 1.2GHz processor
  • 768MB RAM
  • 8GB of inbuilt storage
  • BlackBerry OS v7
  • Fast boot functionality (if you don't remove the battery)
  • Optical trackpad
  • Hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 16GB)
  • DivX and Xvid video support
  • Office document editor
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Smart dialing

Main disadvantages:

  • BlackBerry Internet Service account is a must to enjoy all phone features
  • No Flash support for the web browser
  • No NFC
  • No video-call camera
  • No FM radio
  • No haptic feedback
  • All-plastic body
  • Poor loudspeaker performance

There’s almost nothing on the outside to suggest the amount of progress made inside. It’s the same phone, down to the last millimeter and gram. But it’s a major leap forward to a 1GHz+ CPU, a VGA screen, HD video and a more compelling touchscreen experience.

Things look good for the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and some of it is down to the fact that, out of all the new generation Berries, it has the most comfortable starting position. The Torch 9860 drew the shortest straw we guess, no keyboard and all. What’s the point of a BlackBerry phone that can’t give you the blackberry thumb? The Bold Touch 9900, being the flagship, will inevitably be held to higher standards.

Blackberry Torch 9810 Blackberry Torch 9810 Blackberry Torch 9810 
BlackBerry Torch 9810 live photos

The strength of the Torch 9810 on the other hand is in its power to surprise without being unpredictable. It may keep a low profile but won’t escape the attention of anyone after a solid smart messenger. And we don’t mean the brand-loyal only. It’s the right phone to offer to long-term customers, no doubt about that. Hopefully, the added speed and skill puts it on the radar for a wider range of users too.

OK, then. What we have here is a minor facelilft and a major software upgrade. There’s supposed to be a better phone on the other end of the equation and we’re about to start discovering it. Join us after the break for the hardware examination.

 

The basic accessories

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 doesn’t get beyond the must-have items. No leather holster, not even a memory card in the package we had. A polishing cloth is the closest to a bonus there is. All the basics are covered though. You get a USB cable, a charger head and a set of 3.5mm earphones.

BlackBerry Torch 9810 BlackBerry Torch 9810 
The retail package

BlackBerry Torch 9810 360-degree spin

The Torch 9810 is by no means compact, even with the slider open it struggles to hide its bulk. It seems nothing can be done about the extra padding around the waistline. At 111 x 62 x 14.6 mm, the Torch 9810 is quite a handful but that’s fair for what you get – a 3.2” touchscreen and a full QWERTY keyboard.

161 g sound too much perhaps for an all-plastic handset but we do like the solid and reliable feel all that weight seems to give. At the same time, the phone is perfectly manageable and remains reasonably pocketable.

 

 

 

Design and construction

The portrait slider is a rare from factor and we think it’s an advantage for the BlackBerry Torch 9810. It sets it apart in a crowd of smart messenger side-sliders. The styling is very conservative, the right thing to do with a phone this big. The major difference to the original Torch 9800 is the rear. The battery cover has textured checkerboard finish instead of the ribbed rubber surface of the original.

The phone is entirely made of plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap. We had doubts about the Torch 9860, but nothing of the sort here. The finish is simple, maybe a little too ordinary for a BlackBerry, but the phone looks good. That’s somehow different from calling it good-looking. Solid and reliable, at the very least.

BlackBerry Torch 9810 BlackBerry Torch 9810 
BlackBerry Torch 9810

The five controls on the front panel are the typical BlackBerry set. You get two keys on each side of the optical trackpad (Call and Menu on the left, Back and End key on the right). Although most of the navigation will be on the touchscreen, the trackpad will be busy enough, providing the needed accuracy in the browser or when handling text. The buttons all have solid stroke and adequate feedback.

We feared the screen of the Torch 9810 would do worse than that of the Bold Touch 9900. It turned out though, the lower pixel density doesn’t make any visible difference after all. The 3.2" VGA screen of the Torch 9810 is pleasingly crisp, with rich colors and good contrast. It’s very responsive too. The only thing to note is the lack of haptic feedback.

 

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