RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800 review

Price when reviewed

Microsoft isn’t the only company revamping its smartphone operating system this month. RIM has been busy too, engineering a major software update and a new handset to go with it: the BlackBerry Torch.

RIM hasn’t had to start from the ground up in the same way Microsoft has, but in some respects it has gone back to the drawing board. The Torch marks a distinct change in direction, drawing on RIM’s traditional strengths and combining them with the tried and tested.

The new handset is the first to combine a touchscreen with a physical keyboard, and it looks like a good move. The capacitive touchscreen isn’t the largest at 3.2in or highest resolution at 360 x 480, but it’s bright and colourful. Underneath, mounted on sliding rails, is a fully fledged Qwerty keyboard in the style of the Bold 9700.

RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800

It seems too good to be true, so what’s the catch? For starters, we’re not entirely convinced of the build quality of this new BlackBerry. Where the Bold 9700 felt supremely solid, the Torch is rattly and feels far less substantial.

This isn’t surprising given there’s more going on mechanically, but it doesn’t excuse the bendy, plasticky base and thin, ill-fitting battery cover, nor the four flimsy navigation buttons flanking the optical trackpad. It also makes for a phone that’s chunkier than the Bold 9700.

Even then it wouldn’t be such an issue if the keyboard were up to the same standard as the Bold’s. Alas, despite appearances, it isn’t as good and the reason is the lip surrounding the keyboard on all sides. It impedes the thumbs when they’re reaching for keys at the side and bottom of the keypad, and makes typing uncomfortable.

Elsewhere, the news is slightly better. Battery life is good: we recorded 60% remaining after our 24-hour test, which is about as good as a modern smartphone gets. The camera has had a megapixel boost – up to 5 megapixels from the 3.2 of the previous generation – and it’s a reasonable camera too, equipped with autofocus, image stabilisation and an LED that works both as a flash and a video light source. Video recording still lags behind the competition, however. The Torch is only able to shoot 640 x 480 footage at a maximum of 24fps.


Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £30.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider Vodafone

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 6hrs
Standby, quoted 17 days


Dimensions 62 x 15 x 111mm (WDH)
Weight 161g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard Physical

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 51MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes


Screen size 3.2in
Resolution 360 x 480

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes


OS family BlackBerry OS

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