Hands On: The BlackBerry Torch 9800 Design


It’s been a really fun week testing out the BlackBerry Torch 9800.  Reviewing this device was unlike any other as everything from the hardware to the actual OS was all new to us, providing a different experience we haven’t had before.  For the past year, I had switched into a BlackBerry Storm 2 quite a few times just because it felt nice to have a touch screen BlackBerry.  Then there were other times where I quickly ran back to my Bold 9700 missing the feel of an actual keyboard.  Overall, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 is an excellent device for those who favor both touch screen and physical QWERTY along with a trackpad.  Here we give you a review of the device and our full yet realistic experience.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is a slider device, very similar to others we’ve seen on the market including the Palm Pre.  When carrying it around in my pocket, it feels no thicker than a BlackBerry Storm, not bothering me at all or bulging out obnoxiously as many expected it to be.

From the right side of the device we see (from top to bottom) the headphone jack, then the volume up/down keys, and lastly the convenience key.  The left side of the phone feels quite lonely as there is no convenience key there at all.  On the lower left side you can find the micro-USB input to charge.  Issue with that? Certainly.  My biggest turn off and reason I have not gone for a BlackBerry Bold 9650 full time is because of its awkward charger input position.  With the Torch 9800, I learned to swallow my anger a bit and live with inconvenience as the device has much to offer.

The top side we see the lock button on the left and the mute button on the far right.  This has become trendy and standard in BlackBerry smartphones nowadays so it’s no surprise we see that.  Other devices including the Curve 8500 series, 9300, and Pearl 9100 have media keys up top, but also include the mute button within.  We definitely appreciate the simple mute and lock function up there more than anything and in my opinion, it gives the phone a sleeker look than an mp3 player one we don’t really want to have.

The bottom is empty completely .  I was thinking there would be the microphone some place there, but ironically it is not.  Instead the microphone is underneath the keyboard, directly under the left caps key (aA).  My first day using the device, folks had a hard time hearing me which forced me to slide out the keyboard to speak on the phone.  It isn’t that comfortable.

The back of the torch is my personal favorite.  Finally a new design from RIM! It’s got a rubbery feel too it with lines crossing left and right giving you the right grip you need to walk around with this bad boy in hand safely.  Above the back cover we see the word “Torch” written in the very sexy BlackBerry font with the 5MP camera to the left of it, and the pretty damn bright flash to the right of it.

Overall the design is very solid and I am very happy with the not so tacky chrome trim all around the device.  The trim I hate is the one on the Bold 9700 as it is a brighter silver chrome while the Torch holds a darker “graphite” colored chrome.  Stay tuned later today for our full experience review.  We thought about bundling everything all together but decided to separate it since this is a very new device and is worthy of a few posts categorizing all the experiences and features.


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