RIM has released a set of handset last year for their 9800 series line-up. Apart from the all-screen Torch 9860 that weâ€™ve seen last month, another handset from that roster is the BlackBerry Torch 9810. Read our full review after the break.
If you didnâ€™t like the idea of not having a QWERTY keyboard on your BlackBerry but didnâ€™t want the conventional uni-body form factor of the Bold Touch then this might be the right BB for you. Just in case you have not read our previous review of the Torch 9860, you can check it here.
The BlackBerry Torch 9810 comes with the bare essentials: a 1300mAh battery, headset, USB cable, wall charger with removal plug and user manuals.
Design and Form Factor
This handset sports a sliding form factor that conceals a QWERTY keyboard tucked under a 3.2â€ capacitive touch screen. Because of its design, the Torch 9810 is bulkier and heavier than its siblings. It’s 14.6mm thick and weighs a hefty 161g.
The 4 standard BlackBerry keys along with the optical trackpad are also present and sit below the screen. Two buttons can be found at the top of the unit, Lock key on the left and Mute key on the other. Not much of an action is going-on on the left side of the phone where the MicroUSB port can be seen. Same cannot be said on the right side though. It is where the two button of the volume rocker can be located along with the Convenience Key and the 3.5mm port. The back of the phone is texturized to add grip and houses the 5MP shooter with a single LED flash and 1300mAh battery underneath it.
The screen has 480×640 resolution with 250ppi pixel density of this device seems like the standard for the 9000 series released last year. What sets this handset apart from the competition is the use of Liquid Graphics technology that uses the power of the 1.2GHz processor and GPU to provide a clear and enhanced viewing experience. This feature is not exclusive to the Torch 9810 as it is a feature of the BlackBerry OS 7. The screen is responsive but too small for my liking. I just feel like my chubby fingers are not meant for a screen this small. More on that later as we go along.
The Torch 9810, as mentioned earlier, combines the touch and type functionality in a rare sliding form factor. The standard QWERTY keyboard is just what youâ€™d normally expect from RIM handsets. However, I find the keys of this handset too compressed compared to its siblings. This might be attributed to the design of the phone that doesnâ€™t have the luxury of a big real estate to squeeze in all the keys unlike the Bold 9900. But for a seasoned QWERTY typist, I donâ€™t think that 9810’s keyboard should present that much of a challenge.
Much like the physical keyboard, I also find the virtual keyboard struggling for space between each other. Again, it is due to how the phone is designed. In my opinion, the virtual keyboard on portrait mode closely resembles the one on iPhones with only a few alterations. There are also other options for the virtual keyboard just like in Torch 9860; the Sure-Type and Reduced Keyboard. The lack of haptic feedback of the virtual keyboard makes the experience all the more unsatisfactory.
Just like the other recent 9000 series handsets, the Torch 9810 also comes pre-installed with the latest BlackBerry OS 7. Apart from the Liquid Graphics technology, the new OS also features faster browsing through BB Browser, NFC support, HD Video Recording and Voice-Activated search. Much like the phone itself, the OS 7 doesnâ€™t offer much of a difference from OS 6 in terms of looks and functionality.
In comparison to other 5MP shooters in the market, the Torch 9810 refuses to give up without a fight. The camera shoots pretty decent stills which are at par or even more superior than other 5MP devices. Different scene modes are available for users to choose from to optimize the camera’s shooting capabilities in different lighting conditions. There are also two different options for the Auto-Focus feature, Continuous and Single Shot. For users with shaky hands, there’s an Image Stabilization feature that they can enable to capture crisper photos. Here are some sample pictures taken with the Torch 9810:
Settings like ISO, White Balance, Exposure Compensation and the like are not present from the settings. If youâ€™re not too technical with your pictures, the lack of these options shouldnâ€™t be any problem. The Face detection feature was included on the scene mode as opposed to it being a separate option. No secondary camera for video calling.
Besides shooting decent stills, the 5MP camera of the Torch 9810 is also capable of shooting 720p HD videos at 30fps. Clips taken with the handset are quite good. The contrast and colors are almost spot-on and with only minimal level of noise. Here’s a sample video that we took using the handset.
It’s quite surprising why RIM decided to put 1300mAh battery, which has the same capacity as the battery of older BB handsets, on the BlackBerry Torch 9810 which has almost double the processor speed. What’s even more surprising is that the battery life was not, in any sense, compromised by the difference. I wasnâ€™t expecting this much juice from 1300mAh battery powering a 1.2GHz processor. In Moderate to Heavy usage (BBM, sent few SMS, made and answered couple of voice calls, a bit of browsing, shooting a couple of pictures, a bit of browsing, listening to a couple of songs and few minutes of gaming) I was able to get to 16 hours with the battery still rocking at 9%. I just imagined how much better it would have been if the battery had been 1500mAh or higher.
BlackBerry Torch 9810
3.2â€³ capacitive touch screen @ 480Ã—640 pixels
Full Qwerty keyboard
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card
HSDPA 14.4Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
GPS w/ aGPS support
5MP camera with autofocus and LED flash
Li-Ion 1300 mAh
BlackBerry OS 7
Last year, in an attempt to catch up with other smart phone manufacturers, RIM has come up with a set of handsets with almost identical specs only in different forms. This is nothing new. In fact weâ€™re so used to seeing a bunch of handsets that really doesnâ€™t differ much from their other devices besides its OS and form factor. In all honesty, in spite of all its features, I still think that the Torch 9810 will have a hard time acquiring switchers in our market. This is mainly due to its hefty price tag. BlackBerries doesnâ€™t come cheap and there are definitely other devices, in the same price range, that offers far more superior specs than the Torch 9810.
So why purchase the Torch 9810? One of the few reasons why people still opt to buy BlackBerries than other smartphones is because of its QWERTY keypad and how it redefined messaging. But let’s face it, touching/swiping the screen to toggle from different sections of your phone is more convenient than scrolling use the track pad/trackball. The Torch 9810 (and its predecessor Torch 9800) gives consumers the convenience of typing with a physical keyboard and usability of a bigger and better (than Torch 9800) touch screen.
In my opinion, this will definitely be a worthy upgrade, especially if you currently own a BlackBerry running on OS 5 or older. If anything, I think that the OS 7 is very promising and BlackBerry users will certainly enjoy the slight modifications and some new features of the OS that they have been itching to see on their BlackBerry device for a very long time. And with OS 7.1 just around the corner, we can expect more things to come for this slider in the future.
The Torch 9810 has a suggested retailed at Php28,590 and has been selling in local stores since January this year.