RIM is once again making the rounds with its latest line of BlackBerry smartphones, with the Torch 9850 heading to Verizon Wireless after its initial launch with Sprint. The BlackBerry Torch 9850 marked a milestone for BlackBerry as the first-ever full touch-screen handset after the rather embarrassing mistakes of the Storm and the Storm 2. And we have to say, RIM made a decent effort here. The 3.7-inch display is sharp, and the 1.2GHz processor does a good job at improving overall performance. The Torch 9850 also ships with OS 7, which brings a number of under-the-hood enhancements like 720p HD video capture, voice-activated search, HTML 5 support, and more. The Torch 9850 is also a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone, which makes it fit for globe-trotters.
As the Torch 9850 for Verizon Wireless has the same design and features as the one for Sprint, we'll focus more on slight software and performance differences that the Verizon version offers. For the full review of the device, please read our review of the BlackBerry Torch 9850 for Sprint.
One of the main differences between the Sprint and Verizon Wireless versions of the Torch 9850 is the bundled software. As you might expect, the Verizon version of the phone comes preinstalled with Verizon apps and services. They include VZ Navigator, Backup Assistant, V Cast Music, V Cast Videos, V Cast Song ID, VZWTones, and Bing search. Many of these can't be uninstalled. Aside from these apps, the rest of the phone's software is the same as the Torch 9850 for Sprint and other OS 7 handsets. For more on BlackBerry OS 7, please read our review of the BlackBerry Torch 9810.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900;UMTS 2100), internationally quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) BlackBerry Torch 9850 in San Francisco using Verizon's network. We enjoyed clear call quality on our end, though we did encounter a tiny bit of static occasionally. Otherwise, callers had plenty of volume and sounded quite natural.
Callers reported similar call quality, though they did say our voice quality was not quite as natural and rich as that of a regular landline call. They could still tell we were on a cell phone due to slight distortions. On the whole, call quality was quite impressive. Speakerphone calls sounded good too, though it did have heavy echo effect at times.
RIM BlackBerry Torch 9850 (Verizon Wireless) call quality sample Listen now:
The Torch 9850's battery has a rated talk time of up to 6.8 hours and a rated standby time of up to 13.4 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Torch 9850 has a digital SAR of 0.9 watt per kilogram.
RIM finally made a full touch-screen phone that works. It makes for a great midrange handset with good multimedia features and performance. We welcome the speedy boost that the new processor provides as well as the new camera and browser technologies. Yet, it doesn't quite compete with the big leagues with its lack of a front-facing camera, no 4G support, and no dual-core processor. That's forgivable since this is a midrange device, but Verizon has priced this phone as if it were a premium product at $199.99 with a two-year contract. We do think the BlackBerry Torch 9850 represents one of RIM's better efforts to capture the non-RIM crowd, but we feel it needs to be more aggressive with pricing to really do so.