Well, they failed in keeping us guessing right up to the point of announcement, making the fatal flaw of prematurely updating their website, but suffice it to say that RIM has announced their latest addition to their line of mobile phones, the Blackberry Torch 9800 – in spite of the apparent dwindling interest in the range as a result of other manufacturers employing the ‘smartphone’ approach, which some might say they pioneered.
The BlackBerry Torch 9800‘s perhaps most intriguing new feature is the all new BlackBerry 6 OS deployed for the first time, be sure to check back later for an in-depth look at the new operating system. For now though, we will simply look at the new hardware.
Physically, the device is fairly small and lightweight, weighing in at a diminutive 161.1g, only 30g more than the iPhone 4 and don’t forget this has a slide-out QWERTY attached. When retracted, the device measures 4.37” and sliding out the keyboard adds another 1.46”. At only 2.44” wide, and the display dominating the front of the device, there is plenty of space to work with.
Below the display, you will find the usual set of BlackBerry buttons; The optical trackpad remains for easy navigation, however this time around there is a touch display too, making the trackpad all but redundant in most cases, though if anything like the Nexus One’s trackball, it is still more useful for tracking to certain points in messages or e-mails than a touch screen. Alongside the trackpad there is the ESC key to the right, menu key to the left and outside those the call and end call buttons, all of which are touch sensitive.
The display itself is a 3.2” HVGA+ touch screen measuring in at a decent 480×360 resolution, and with the assistance of an ambient light sensor and proximity detector on the face of it, they have provided a fantastic display for the user, so this should be a good improvement over that of the Blackberry Storm which did come in for some criticism.
As I have already stated, there is a slide-out QWERTY, which operates in portrait-only, otherwise you must use the on-screen landscape view keyboard. However, interestingly RIM has decided to include a backlight on the physical QWERTY, something seldom seen in smart phones, if ever. However, it remains to be seen how damaging this will be to the all-important factor of actual battery life, though RIM claims that the Torch endures 18 days of standby time, 30 hours of music playback, 6 hours of video playback or 5.5 hours of talk time.
All of those snaps, videos as well as music can be stored on the built in 512mb of flash memory or the 4Gb media card included. Alternatively, you can opt to buy your own cheap microSD memory card for up to 32Gb extra space.
In terms of connectivity there is all the usual methods including 3G, GSM/GPRS/EDGE or indeed, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. Plus, as with BlackBerry tradition there is also the usual security configurations too.
So overall a good set of spec on the new BlackBerry Torch 9800, whilst there are some disappointing features they generally fall in to the unnecessary category for the quintessential BlackBerry buyer. The inclusion of a touch screen, backlit QWERTY and improved camera may have an adverse effect on battery life, but altogether makes it a far more functional device appealing to the masses, not just business users!
Watch the Engadget Blackberry Torch video demo below and then let us know what you think to it in the comments section below!