Inside, BlackBerry Torch lags Droid, iPhone

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 uses time-tested internal components that provide stability but lack the wow factor.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800, though a high-end smartphone, is not in the same league internally as the Motorola Droid or Apple iPhone.

The Torch 9800 is a high-end BlackBerry smartphone, but its core internals lag other high-end offerings from Apple and Motorola.
The Torch 9800 is a high-end BlackBerry smartphone, but its core internals lag other high-end offerings from Apple and Motorola. Research In Motion

Let's state up front that the Torch is a BlackBerry, which is to say it's for the corporate market and doesn't necessarily aspire to be a more consumer-centric Motorola Droid or Apple iPhone. That said, the display and the internals don't scream cutting edge, either.

At 3.2 inches diagonally and with a 480-by-360 resolution, the Torch's touch screen does not compare very favorably to the 3.5-inch 960-by-640 resolution iPhone 4 screen or the 3.7-inch 480-by-854 resolution display on the Droid 2.

And the screen is really a window into a smartphone's internals, as typically the larger, higher-resolution displays require the latest and greatest silicon inside to power them.

Which brings us to the Torch's main processor: it's a Marvell application processor running at 624MHz, essentially the same processor that was used in the BlackBerry Bold 9700, as well as models before that.

iSuppli bill of materials for the BlackBerry Torch 9800
iSuppli bill of materials for the BlackBerry Torch 9800 iSuppli

RIM is obviously partial to this processor--probably for some very good reasons--but it really doesn't compare to Apple's A4 chip in the iPhone 4 or the Droid 2's and Droid X's 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor.

And iSuppli had this to say: "On the inside, the Torch's electronic design heavily leverages subsystems used in previous members of the BlackBerry smartphone line, specifically the Storm2 and the Bold 9700." Though iSuppli goes on to say that RIM's "evolutionary approach...largely" matches the iPhone and other Android-based competitors, "largely" is probably being charitable.

Though it meets many of the needs of the corporate customer, more than a few reviews have been quick to point out that the Torch is behind the times technologically. And some of this sentiment is tied to the Torch's tried-and-true but relatively pedestrian internal components.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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