BlackBerry Torch 9810 review: BlackBerry Torch 9810

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 6 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Solid build quality; Bright capacitive touchscreen; Slide-out Qwerty keyboard.

The Bad BlackBerry OS 7 still needs work; camera hasn't been improved from the 9800.

The Bottom Line The BlackBerry Torch 9810 is a classic example of a company subtly upgrading an existing device. It offers myriad improvements over the 9800, but doesn't go far enough in our opinion.

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The BlackBerry Torch 9810 is the successor to last year's 9800 and boasts an improved screen, faster processor and the very latest iteration of the BlackBerry OS, version 7.

You can pick up the Torch 9810 on a two-year deal for around £25 a month. Alternatively, if you've just won the lottery then you can grab a SIM-free unit for £450.

Should I buy the BlackBerry Torch 9810?

Launched alongside the keyboardless Torch 9860 , the 9810 should appeal to traditional BlackBerry fans as it boasts a keyboard as well as a touchscreen interface.

It's not, however, a unique proposition. In fact, it's more of an update of last year's Torch 9800, rather than a big leap forward. Sure, it's faster, has a new operating system and can even shoot 720p video, but it feels like too little, too soon.

Nevertheless, if you eyed the Torch 9800 with interest in 2010 but didn't take the plunge, this sequel could be for you.

Interface

Like the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Torch 9860, this handset is rocking BlackBerry OS 7, the latest and potentially greatest edition of RIM's mobile operating system. It's an upgrade from the OS 6 which we saw on the Torch 9800, and offers colourful menu icons that appear to have been inspired by the likes of iOS and Android.

Everything is laid out in touch-friendly grids, and the main screen is split into different touch-friendly sections. The top of the display opens your settings menu, while the space below that handles notifications. The largest space is concerned with your apps.

This area can be swiped left and right to reveal categories such as 'most used applications', or ones you've downloaded from the BlackBerry App World. You can tinker around with these categories if you so wish.

Swiping up and down enlarges or shrinks the app drawer, allowing you to fully expose your phone's attractive wallpaper.

For all of its finger-friendly prowess, the Torch 9810 still relies on the traditional BlackBerry optical trackpad when it comes to making precise menu selections. While OS 7 has made massive strides into the world of touch-screen mobile UIs, it's clear that there are some elements of the past that RIM's software engineers are reluctant to leave behind.

Touchscreen

Unlike its close relation the Torch 9860 -- which sports a 3.7-inch, 480x800 pixel resolution display -- the Torch 9810 has a 3.2 inch screen, with a resolution of 480x640. Despite the smaller size, this TFT (thin film transistor) display is no slouch and offers a clean, crisp picture -- although colours look noticeably washed out when compared to the 9860.

Image description
The 9810's 3.2 inch screen looks a little washed out, especially when compared with the 9860, but it's nice enough when taken on its own merits.

The other good news is that it's capacitive, meaning you can perform all those lovely ‘pinch to zoom' gestures that iPhone and Android lovers are always banging on about.

Keyboard

Arguably the centrepiece of any true BlackBerry handset (we'll ignore the keyboardless 9860 for a moment), the Torch 9810's physical interface consists of a slide-out Qwerty arrangement -- the same that graced its direct predecessor, in fact.

Image description
The buttons may be a little too close together, but you'll still type like greased lightning using the Torch 9810's Qwerty keyboard.

Although apps such as Swype and SwiftKey X have taken touchscreen typing to new levels of speed, accuracy and prediction, you simply cannot beat the feel of real buttons under your fingertips. Bashing out an email, status update or Facebook message on the Torch 9810 is a joy, although we do feel the buttons are little too close together for comfort.

We'd also have preferred it if the numbers were on a separate line of keys, rather than being ‘alt' commands on existing letter buttons, though that would have meant expanding the size of the keyboard vertically, creating a larger handset.

Design

Although the Torch 9810 looks much like last year's 9800 in terms of design, it is granted its own personality by the fetching chrome finish. The entire device is clad in shining silver, but it's worth noting that only the edges of the front panel are metal -- everything else is just coated plastic.

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Despite the eye-catching chrome,everything aside from the front surround is plastic.

The back of the phone has a grid-like texture which aids grip, but we're not totally taken with this patterned effect. It's also disappointing that the battery cover isn't made of metal, like the one on the Torch 9860.

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The grid texture on the back of the phone may divide critics -- we weren't taken with it.

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Where to Buy

BlackBerry Torch 9810

Part Number: CNETBlackBerry Torch 9810

Typical Price: £450.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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