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BlackBerry Torch 9800 hands-on photos: It's big

We managed to get our digits around the massive BlackBerry Torch 9800, which sports a huge touchscreen as well as a full Qwerty keyboard

Flora Graham

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The BlackBerry Torch 9800 has potential to be the touchscreen phone BlackBerry fans have been waiting for, even if it does look like a BlackBerry Bold 9700 glued to a BlackBerry Storm.

There's plenty of room for a 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen and the full Qwerty keyboard BlackBerry is famous for. But this is no sleek, rounded Palm Pre, which was also a touchscreen slider with a Qwerty keyboard. The Torch's keyboard welcomes big-fingered users with enough space to tempt you into writing long emails, texts and status updates.

The Torch also sports an optical trackpad on the front, which duplicates the touchscreen's navigation ability, but could come in handy for moving through Web links and text. 

Thankfully, the BlackBerry OS has been updated to take advantage of the touchscreen, so you won't have to flip around the tiny menus of text that suited previous berries. Large, finger-friendly icons and loads of shortcuts are the theme, although BlackBerry was wary of scaring off loyal customers with wildly innovative changes. 

The big case also packs in major connectivity, including support for the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, Bluetooth, wireless syncing with your computer, and easy tethering to share your 3G connection with your laptop. GPS is included too, as well as your choice of Google Maps and BlackBerry's own map software, which includes turn-by-turn navigation.

A new version of BlackBerry's desktop software should help get you connected and add your music library to the phone's 4GB of on-board memory -- although we haven't had a chance to test the latest version yet.

To truly appreciate the magnitude of this slider, take a look at our hands-on photos as we take a walk through some of the new features of BlackBerry OS 6. And for more about the Torch, click through to our full preview

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A new home screen with multiple sliding menus and notification bars aim to make the Torch more customisable and dynamic.
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The home screens can hold shortcuts to apps, contacts, photos, videos and Web shortcuts.
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A notification bar shows new messages from email, BBM and social networks.
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A slider opens to reveal the full Qwerty keyboard that made BlackBerry famous.
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A new social-networking app brings together messages from all over your social sphere.
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BlackBerry promises that configuring features such as Wi-Fi and email will be easier in OS 6.
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The Torch as a 5-megapixel camera and LED photo light.
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OS 6 has a refreshed contact list.
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The Torch is larger than a typical slider phone thanks to its full keyboard, but that allows for a big screen.
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There's an on-screen Qwerty keyboard for when you can't be bothered to slide.
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The on-screen keyboard works in landscape or portrait mode.
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A compact Qwerty keyboard is another input option if you've got massive fingers.
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There's also an alphanumeric keyboard for the truly huge-fingered among us.

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