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Hands On With the BlackBerry Torch 9800 126

Posted by kdawson
from the rim-shot dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Research in Motion announced the company's first slider-style BlackBerry, the Torch 9800, which is also the first BlackBerry with both a touch screen and hard keyboard, and the first device to run the new OS 6. The Torch feels and looks very much like a BlackBerry, with the proper BlackBerry Bold-style arrangements of plastic, metal, and glass; there are also BlackBerry fonts on the keys and the now-standard BlackBerry trackpad. The Torch's 3.2-inch, 360-by-480 screen is a standard capacitive LCD touch screen. The screen is bright and sharp, but it's obviously behind the competition in terms of resolution. The Torch has a 5-megapixel camera with VGA video recording, Bluetooth 2.1, 512 MB of program memory, 4 GB of built-in storage, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. The Torch has the same 624-MHz Marvell processor as the existing BlackBerry Bold. The new BlackBerry 6 OS adds touch to the interface mix. RIM appears to have totally rewritten its media apps. There's a new Desktop Manager coming with BlackBerry 6, and a Social Feeds app that combines Twitter, Facebook, and various instant messaging conversations."
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Hands On With the BlackBerry Torch 9800

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  • by Pojut (1027544)

    The hardware looks decent (except for that low-res screen...wtf?), but I'm not entirely sold on the new OS revision.

    Disclosure: I've never been much a fan of Blackberry OS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Orange Crush (934731)
      Internals are a bit disappointing [boygeniusreport.com]. Why are they only putting a 624Mhz processor in their new flagship device? HTC, Apple, Moto & Samsung are all using 1ghz ARM variants in their flagship phones--with higher speeds and dual core phones on the near horizon.
      • by AvitarX (172628)

        I bet that's why a blackberry can last with heavy usage much better than the others.

        • by atamido (1020905)

          No, BB simply has a much more efficient push email system than ActiveSync, or polling every 15 minutes.

      • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @09:25PM (#33133534)

        Internals are a bit disappointing [boygeniusreport.com]. Why are they only putting a 624Mhz processor in their new flagship device? HTC, Apple, Moto & Samsung are all using 1ghz ARM variants in their flagship phones--with higher speeds and dual core phones on the near horizon.

        Get this... if you don`t spend all your processing time making animated zooming window borders and other GUI frills, you don`t NEED an insane processor. What does a cell phone need to do?

        Make calls... doesn`t need much processing power.
        Look up contacts. Make appointments. Access memos... doesn`t need much processing power.
        Take pictures. Display low-res video. Encode and decode music... doesn`t need much processing power.

        If your phone seems slow, it`s because it`s full of glitzy crap. My Bold 9700 does everything I ask it to do, immediately. It doesn`t lag. It isn`t slow. It doesn`t - in a nutshell - need a faster processor.

        • by Targon (17348)

          On the flip side, the new Blackberry devices are fairly small, and if you compare prices, why get a Blackberry at this point? E-mail is handled well by most of the new smartphones out there, giving the edge to Blackberry ONLY when it comes to the corporate stuff(exchange servers and such). Give it another few years and Blackberry won't have ANY advantage when it comes to e-mail, so what will RIM do then?

          RIM is really following in the footsteps of Palm.

          Palm had a huge advantage, but sticking with an

        • It's also flipping all your damned apostrophes around!!!
          • As it happens, that was a weird language/location/regional mode that arbitrarily flipped on my workstation for no obvious reason. It wasn't anything to do with my Blackberry.

        • by EXrider (756168)
          My Pearl 8220 needs a faster processor. I can type faster than this damn thing can display the characters; which is highly frustrating when you try to use they sym key to insert punctuation and the damn symbol palette pops up three fucking characters later.

          Apparently SureType needs more processing power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Meh for the average user, true. Nice to see RiM focusing back on business users without trying to introduce an "iPhone killer".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        Meh for the average user, true. Nice to see RiM focusing back on business users without trying to introduce an "iPhone killer".

        And how are they focusing on businesses moreso than they already do? It looks like they're missing the forest for the trees by rushing to include every new buzzword-laden technology (Social Feeds! Instant messaging! Facebook!) without actually understanding the underlying themes and trends. To me, that seems like the antithesis of "focusing on business users."

        Also, why is it that businesses cannot benefit from the (considerably superior) graphical, processing, and multitouch capabilities of the current

        • by Qwavel (733416)

          > Also, why is it that businesses cannot benefit from the (considerably superior) graphical, processing, and multitouch capabilities of the current crop of Android and iOS devices?

          Cost.

          When you look at all the high-end phones being sold you sometimes get the idea that cost doesn't matter anymore. And for many consumers that is true, but businesses are less likely to want to pay for expensive capabilities that aren't needed.

          • heya,

            Blackberry devices aren't that much cheaper.

            For example, in my work here in Australia, I was told that our BB 9700 handsets were around $740, even after all the carrier discounts from Telstra (we're a very-large IB).

            For that sort of money, you can nearly get a iPhone 4, or a Android phone.

            For my personal phone, I have a Nexus One, and apart from the lack of a tactile keyboard, it's much nicer to the BB 9700 handset I use. The only drawback is the battery life, which is obviously lower, due to the large

        • by MrCrassic (994046)
          Well, considering that many will receive this phone from their company, they probably won't use those features since they'll be blocked by policy (damn near impossible to circumvent...and not worth losing a job over anyway). I think they still make business users a priority (whatever they do, they don't mess with email and such), while trying to appease the general crowd at the same time (think of it like Windows use in the home; hard to reason why so many people use it, until one realizes that many people
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      360x480 is lower than phones from 2+ years ago. I guess it's a start?

  • Bad Apple (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spazntwich (208070) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:05PM (#33129304)

    How you like RIM, Jobs?

  • Another cellphone company that want's to shove AT&T down my throat. No thanks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cygnwolf (601176)
      I agree. I happen to... mostly... Like my provider. Even though they don't always have the uber popular phones like the i-phone. And they completely seem to miss the point about 'rugged' phones (Nothing since the Moto W450? Really?). But I like the customer service I've gotten, I like my plan, I like my coverage... I just don't like the fact that the phone manufactures are trying to force me to pay full price for the phones I want (instead of changing to their exclusive service vendor, if you can call wh
      • by vlm (69642)

        Makes me feel like a second class citizen...

        Big corporations are the first class citizens.

      • ...if you can call what AT&T and Verizon do 'service'...

        I dunno, from reading around here they seem to "service" [thefreedictionary.com] (definition 12) their customers quite well...

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      AT&T is hardly the only mobile carrier to offer BlackBerry handsets. Blame T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon for not outbidding AT&T to be first to carry this model.

  • by mark72005 (1233572) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:16PM (#33129480)
    According to Slashdot, this phone already outsold the iPhone in the last quarter :)
  • Blech (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grub (11606)

    RIM is like Microsoft: not the best made stuff, but business adopted it so it's a standard of sorts.

    I hate that my workplace will buy us Blackberries but won't go iPhone (or whatever). I end up swapping the SIM to my personal iPhone and all is well but it's still wear and tear on my own stuff.

    .
    • Re:Blech (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:39PM (#33129820)

      Where I work they recently started allowing employees to bring their own 3Gs/4 iPhones to the network with the caveat there would be no support whatsoever to those people. In the the few months that policy has been in place there have been numerous company wide mobile email outages to those iPhones. Of course many executives switched and you can't NOT support the execs. AT&T couldn't figure out what the problem was and neither could Apple. In the 4 years I've been here I can count on one hand the number of times the email on the Blackberries has gone down. I've been discouraging people from getting iPhones for work and now I can actually offer them an alternative. I welcome the Torch with open arms.

      • by grub (11606)
        Interesting. We have a "You ain't supported" policy here, too. I don't recall mail to my iPhone (or anybody's) ever choking but I know I've had to pull the battery in my various Blackberries to reboot them many times. I liked my 8830(?) World Edition back in the day but RIM seems like they've been stuck in the past. The current 9700 I have is OK but it seems like little more than a dumb-phone with email. That's the one I swap SIMs with at work.
        • by ArhcAngel (247594)

          I will concede that point about the Curves (83xx). I loved my 8800 but it was stolen so I decided to get the newer Curve and as you mentioned it borks every so often requiring a hard reset. My 8800 never gave me problems like that and I wouldn't mind getting another 88xx series.

        • by EXrider (756168)
          iPhone email is probably going down when an aloof admin allows the SSL cert to expire on the OWA server(s), ActiveSync depends upon it, whereas BES does not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rabbit994 (686936)

        We have had opposite experience. We do provide work iPhones and support them. iPhone users we never hear from again about Email. Blackberries on other hand are constantly loosing connection to BES, BES looses connection to mailbox, reset their BES account, clean out their Blackberry queue, it's never ending ticket queue.

        Between most sysadmins I know, their dislike of BES is pretty universal and we wish they would embrace ActiveSync like everyone else.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Blackberries on other hand are constantly loosing connection to BES, BES looses connection to mailbox

          Why don't you tighten up your connection then?

        • by atamido (1020905)

          Between most sysadmins I know, their dislike of BES is pretty universal and we wish they would embrace ActiveSync like everyone else.

          Ditto. Once Exchange is set up to support ActiveSync, users can set up their own Windows Mobile or iPhones without any IT support. BES requires extra hardware and software licenses, plus the time from IT workers. And that's if the BES is working properly.

          Why people want to continue going down the BES route is a mystery.

          • by EXrider (756168)

            Why people want to continue going down the BES route is a mystery.

            First of all, there's a common misconception amongst a lot of people that BlackBerries require BES, they do not, BlackBerries can hook directly into ActiveSync just like other smartphones without a BES.

            I just had to do a smartphone comparison at the company I work for, as much as I hate the BB browser and it's laggy OS, there are quite a few compelling features for businesses on BES:
            - BES Express is now free and doesn't require a corre

            • by atamido (1020905)

              BlackBerries can hook directly into ActiveSync just like other smartphones without a BES.

              Ah, it's been several years since I've messed with them, but that didn't used to be true. It used to be you had to use either BES, or a web based service that BlackBerry provided that would poll the email server via IMAP or POP3 and then pass them on to the phone.

              Of course, at the time the only thing that did ActiveSync was WindowsMobile, which was pretty terrible.

              • by EXrider (756168)
                Yeah, I just discovered the BIS to ActiveSync capability like two years ago when a user brought in their own Blackberry and complained that it wouldn't pull their work email anymore.

                With BES being free now though, that's a pretty compelling solution, I'm surprised RIM hasn't advertised that more. It will co-exist just fine on the existing Exchange backend server with less than 50 BES users, so it's not like you need to sink money on hardware either if you're a small business.
            • by bherman (531936)

              First of all, there's a common misconception amongst a lot of people that BlackBerries require BES, they do not, BlackBerries can hook directly into ActiveSync just like other smartphones without a BES.

              I believe the Blackberry BIS service only supports Outlook Web Access (Not true ActiveSync), there are third party apps for ActiveSync but from my research they are a bit cumbersome to use.

          • by bherman (531936)

            Why people want to continue going down the BES route is a mystery

            Well I know one reason I moved to a Blackberry and BES was that ActiveSync didn't handle notes. Additionally the iPhone didn't handle tasks. I don't know if any Andoid based devices do but none did when I was looking in January of this year.

      • by Samalie (1016193)
        We're small business, but have the same policy....no support to iPhones (although I'm the IT Manager here & have an iPhone over the Blackberry). In my 3 years working with BB devices, I ahve had numerous support tickets on BES/Blackberry related crap and people not getting their email. But I have NEVER had an email outage on my iPhone in 2 years of carrying a iP3g.
    • by sarhjinian (94086)

      I'm almost certain you cannot swap a SIM provisioned with BlackBerry data services into a non-BlackBerry phone and get data; certainly if your company has a BES. And if they're hardcore about security, they probably have BES.

      What you could do is get a dual-SIM case for your iPhone. They tend to be clunky, though.

      • by grub (11606)
        I do swap, though. 3G 9700 -> iPhone 3GS on Rogers.
        • by sarhjinian (94086)

          That's bizarre. I'm a Rogers customer as well and I'm pretty sure that BIS/BES service SIMs won't work in a non-Blackberry device ever. I'll give this a try.

      • by wulfhere (94308)
        Well, we're not using BES, but I just swapped the SIM from my old BB Curve to a Samsung Vibrant. Worked fine.
      • by sharsa (1330245)
        I disagree. I have my Blackberry 8110 provisioned with BIS/BES and swapping the SIM to a candy-bar style phone still allows data usage. Perhaps this is something different with the MUCH newer models? And I can't vouch for BES support as I don't have another device that would use BES with a SIM card. Perhaps this just a function of my carrier instead of the home office.
      • by yabos (719499)
        I did it with the SIM from my 5 year old BB from work. I tested out the data just to see if it would work since the BB work phones had only 15MB data per month.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I end up swapping the SIM to my personal iPhone

      If it helps, I know a number of RIM employees who do the same thing.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RIM is like Microsoft: not the best made stuff, but business adopted it so it's a standard of sorts.

      Well, that depends what you mean by "best".

      The blackberry platform is the most secure, strongly encrypted mobile email/internet platform out there.

      The blackberry platform has been audited from end-to-end [blackberry.com] & certified by the governments of Canada, USA, UK, Austria, New Zealand, Australia & Turkey, along with NATO and the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Germany.

      Iphone has been a

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      If they're buying it for you, I'm not sure what the complaint is. I "hate" that my workplace doesn't buy me Blackberries, N97s or Desires...

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I hate that my workplace will buy us Blackberries but won't go iPhone (or whatever). I end up swapping the SIM to my personal iPhone and all is well but it's still wear and tear on my own stuff.

      If you're lucky enough to get a (presumably free) phone from work, stop whining about it.

      Waaaaaaaaahhhh my company only gave me this crappy 1 year old HP laptop instead of a new MacBook waaaaaahhhhhhh.

      Waaaaaaaaahhhhmy company car's only a Ford instead of a Porsche waaaaaaaaahhhhhh.

  • WebKit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IceFox (18179) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:21PM (#33129548) Homepage
    Surprised it isn't in the summary, but this phone is also the first Blackberry to have a WebKit based browser which is big news.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by moosesocks (264553)

      No kidding. Have you ever tried developing for the BlackBerry browser, or the Widget API, which uses the same rendering engine? Netscape 4 is literally more capable and standards-compliant by comparison. It's virtually unusable to do anything beyond bare basics with JavaScript or CSS (and even then, behavior is often inconsistent and unreliable).

      The Widget API is also perplexing in its own right. Although it supposedly uses the same rendering engine, its implementation of the DOM is slightly different f

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pspahn (1175617)
        I think that is what distinguishes a Blackberry as a business phone. Only a large business with many wasted resources would want to develop for a Blackberry.
    • It seems obvious this phone is meant to put an end to all the bitching about blackberries past shortcomings:

      - touchscreen, trackpad, slide-out keyboard: stop bitching about input methods
      - multi-touch, pinch-to-zoom, new webkit browser: stop bitching about web surfing
      - new app world with carrier billing, new developer SDK: stop bitching about apps
      - integrated youtube, facebook, twitter, myspace: stop bitching about being for corporate users only

      Wether this will reduce steady flow of users conver
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        -QNX: Stop bitching about our shitty OS

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Are people really converting en masse?

        I know Blackberry is losing smartphone market share in a hurry, but how much of that is the changing focus of the smartphone market? There are lots more individuals jumping in and choosing consumer-friendly phones instead of business-friendly phones.

        I kinda think Blackberry might stick around forever like IBM or Novell or whatever, boring (but profitable) companies making boring (but reliable) business products for boring (but wealthy) customers.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Well yea, but the news is that the platform is so out of date that its just now getting a WebKit based browser. Like the commercials they're running these days, it smacks of a desperate attempt to be "cool".
  • I'd take a HTC smart phone over blackberry any day of the week.
    • Why?

      From what I hear Blackberry does what it's designed to do very well and very securely. RIM also seem to make reliable phone with the exception of the original Storm.

      My android phone doesn't even come close to handling work email as well as the Blackberry.

      There is nothing wrong with picking the best phone that meets your purpose. Android is okay. The support isn't there, and it sure isn't as integrated as the Blackberry with enterprise email.

      • by MrCrassic (994046)
        The TouchDown collaboration suite for Android makes it much more capable as a business device. It allows you to have most of the usual features on Blackberry OS with less security (probably doesn't comply with government standards, etc).
  • Look and feel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:32PM (#33129708) Homepage

    The Torch feels and looks very much like a BlackBerry

    Wait. Is that supposed to be a compliment? The only nice things to say about Blackberry relate to their keyboards and enterprise software.

    • And security, don't forget how much more secure the blackberry is. Why do you think repressive governments don't like them?

      Also, blackberries use less network resources then other phones. Kind of nice if you have a data limited plan.

      Call quality on the blackberry is always exceptional.

      Battery life is pretty good, compared to other smart phones.

      So except for the keyboards, enterprise software, security, network compression, call quality and battery life, Blackberries are just average.

  • Does anything other than WebKit on this phone not scream lock in? Unless I fell into a time loop, it requires either a slew of Microsoft only software and their own expensive proprietary daemon or administrators to do go through a bunch of bs to send internal information back out to some service to be functional.
    So a blackberry with expensive server software or reduced security and pain for your admin vs. iPhone or any Android based phone.

    I hope the death of RIM is nearing.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @03:47PM (#33129940) Journal

    The phone will be dubbed the "Blackberry Flashlight 9800" for UK owners

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      Let's just hope they don't have any battery overheating problems, or the "Torch" name will turn into a bad pun really, REALLY fast.

  • As an indie BB developer, I've mixed impressions here. The changes to OS6 look very promising (I'll be digging in more tonight since they released the SDK today, but so far they look good -- and this on top of a platform that was pretty solid to begin with, even if not the flashiest out there.) There are also some cool features - like gesture support on the trackpad, integrated search, etc - which I'm looking forward to playing with.

    A lot of things I've had to manually code workarounds for are now part of the OS. This is a two-edged sword though: I still need to support older platforms (thus must keep my legacy code); yet also want to have the more efficient/integrated advantage that comes with using native APIs. It's not *too* painful as I've already determined handling for this scenario in previous OS versions (5.0, 4.7, 4.6, 4.5, 4.3...) ... but it is frustrating as some of these things really should have been there all along. (On the other hand: this isn't a problem specific to BB. -- it's a problem with developing against any platform that undergoes significant improvements over time.)

    I was looking forward to the Torch hardware itself - since my first BB (8700c) I was thinking it would be really cool if they found a way to merge their keyboard with the Palm touchscreens. When I heard about it, I had geekgasms. Now that I'm seeing the specs... my reaction is mixed. I'm seeing a lot of feedback about the relatively slow processor (compared to other smartphones); but realistically I don't anticipate that to have much effect. My experience with BB has shown that Well written apps will run well; poorly written apps will run poorly; but the core OS will remain snappy. As long as that doesn't change, I'm not too concerned about the CPU speed. (the only exception was the 8800 - that thing was dog-slow... don't know what they were thinking.) Even the RAM doesn't bother me - though I am still h oping we'll see the ability to run apps off of SD card or at least on-board flash. Either of these would make RAM an absolute non-issue.

    What disappoints me is the screen resolution: this device has the same resolution as my 9700-- which has a much smaller screen. I really expected this to get bumped up a notch in this release, and the fact that it hasn't has me debating whether i want to get the Torch, or wait for the Flaming Torch or whatever the next version of the hardware will be. Considering how long I've been wanting exactly this device, the idea of waiting for a next rev is irksome.

    Overall: the OS looks good. The API improvements make a solid system even better. The new tools for web-based apps look very promising, and a vast improvement over their previous iteration. The hardware is "meh", but still a step up; I only wish the screen were better resolution. The fact that they're now including app store with the OS itself is also a huge improvement: too many people think that the crapware links that AT&T/whoever pushes to the phone are the extent of the BB app selection, and that's not the case. Hopefully this push (along with their planned marketing) will make both developers and consumers more aware that BB is a good platform for apps.

  • Sounds like, unlike Apple, Palm or Android, they wrote a multi-threaded OS capable of running WebKit from scratch, rather then being based on Linux or BSD.

    Although it's not really that hard if only have to support limited hardware you've designed yourself and you have ready access graduates from one of the most respected Computer Science programs in the world (University of Waterloo).

  • I read all the way to the end of one of TFAs before realizing it's "torch", not "touch."

  • When did RIM start making flashlights? Are they selling it under that same name in the UK?
  • Battery life is about 20% lower (1500mAh down to 1300 or so), and now it has to power a bigger ,touch-capable screen. Doesn't look good for battery life.

  • 360x480 is pretty old hat these days. When are they going to launch something with comparable screen resolution to the iPhone 4?
  • In the UK market, the Blackberry is now supposed to be the number one choice amongst teens, for the simple reason that it is the easiest to do text messaging on.

He who steps on others to reach the top has good balance.

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