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Blackberry Torch 9800

RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800

Burning sensation?

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Review BlackBerry manufacturer RIM has been struggling to keep up with the main innovators at the head of the smart phone pack. So far, it's been keeping pace rather than edging in front. It appears that's unlikely to change with the Torch 9800, which has some very good features, including the latest BlackBerry OS 6, but has a few drawbacks too.

Blackberry Torch 9800

Burnt offering: RIM’s BlackBerry Torch 9800

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is essentially two phones in one; combining the big touch screen of the Storm 2 and the physical Qwerty keyboard of the 9700 Bold. It does without the Storm's love-it-or-hate-it clicky SurePress screen though, replacing it with a 3.2in multi-touch, capacitive touchscreen with a 360 x 480 resolution and 16m colours. The slide out Qwerty keyboard is a good size – just a smidgeon smaller than the Bold's.

The slide-out Qwerty keyboard will seem superfluous to hardened touch-screen users, especially since there's a perfectly fine on-screen virtual version too, which, in both the portrait and landscape modes, is very good, with well-spaced keys, highlight flags and intelligent, editable AutoText.

Anyone buying the Torch 9800 is likely to prefer a physical keyboard though. It’s a good one too, with 35 well-spaced keys, angled in RIM's uniquely thumb-caressing way. There's a nice degree of feedback and it's easy to get up a head of typing steam with one or two thumbs.

Blackberry Torch 9800

A physical keyboard slides out when needed

The handset is big, but not outrageously so at 111 x 62 x 15mm and 161g and beneath the display is a row of clickable buttons for call start and stop, back and menu, with the same adjustable optical trackpad featured on all recent BlackBerrys in the middle. On the sides are a micro USB power/sync slot, camera shutter button, volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone jack. On top are touch sensitive mute and screen lock buttons while the rear casing boasts a nicely tactile rubberised plastic back.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Next page: OS update

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