Early reviews are in on the RIM BlackBerry Torch. While ranging in tone, they tend to agree that Torch may keep the flame alive for BlackBerry diehards, but it's no beacon for converts.
Early reviews of Research In Motion's BlackBerry Torch are beginning to
emerge, and a general consensus is forming: As RIM
and AT&T executives at the press conference introducing the device insisted
the Torch is the best BlackBerry smartphone to date. However, reviewers added,
it's not quite enough to win away consumers from the Apple iPhone or the
numerous high-end devices running Google's Android OS.
The two most important details about the Torch, all reviewers pointed out,
are that, first, it's the only BlackBerry to offer both a slide-out keyboard
and a touch screen, giving users the option of typing on the long-well-received
BlackBerry keypad or a virtual keypad. Second, it's the first RIM handset to
run the BlackBerry 6 OS.
Walter S. Mossberg, writing in the Wall
, was generally kind in his review. He called the Torch a "big
improvement over earlier, stodgy BlackBerry models" and noted that it
might "help stem the urge to switch to iPhone and Android, and even steal
some users from those and other platforms." (He was alone, among early
reviewers, in this latter feeling.)
Mossberg liked the updates to the browser (calling it "finally usable")
and to the home screen, and found the settings screens to be "more
graphical and attractive." The music and video players were also "much
more attractive and useful"-though rather time-consuming to sync with a
PC. (No dice at all, Mac users.) He was also satisfied with the Torch's
5-megapixel camera and its redesigned pop-up menu that "makes it easy to
share photos via email, text message, BlackBerry Messenger or various social networks."
Message notifications also arrived more quickly than on older BlackBerry
models, and the battery happily lasted a whole day.
The downsides? He complained it was "slower overall" than the
iPhone 4, and the browser, though the same as on the iPhone and many Android
handsets, behaved badly for him until he removed and replaced the battery.
Mossberg also found the display to be smaller and of a much lower resolution
than on many obvious rival handsets, and noted there was no front-facing camera
for video calling, like Apple, Motorola and HTC
now commonly offer.
And that's not even harping on the application situation. While the Apple
App Store offers a cool 250,000-plus apps, and even the relatively new Android
offers 70,000 apps, for BlackBerry handsets the number is around 9,000.
Writing for Gizmodo
, Matt Buchanan was far
"If you don't already own a BlackBerry, you will not want this phone,"
Buchanan wrote. "And if you do, you still might not want it, even if it
may very well be the 'best BlackBerry ever.'"
He found the Torch slow and the screen lousy, and said RIM's efforts to
appeal to both new users and the BlackBerry dedicated are resulting in some "existential
"It's like Two Face, but even less focused. Is BlackBerry 6 a touch-screen
OS? A trackpad and keyboard OS? Mostly for business users? Regular people?"
asked Buchanan. "It's not quite sure, and the results can be pretty messy."
In closing, he complained, "They could've at least given the damn thing a
Sascha Segan, of PCMag.com
, was more
diplomatic. While the iPhone 4 and various Android handsets may have gorgeous
displays, 4G radios and super-duper 3D games, "the BlackBerry Torch doesn't
live in that world," wrote Segan. "It's for people who live on email,
IM, Facebook and Twitter, for whom typing updates and messages is their
Josh Topolsky gave
the Torch's Universal Search feature a thumbs-up, but otherwise found the Torch
by turns boring, confusing and lame. "It's tough to feel really excited
about the BlackBerry Torch and OS 6 after heavy testing," he wrote.
In conclusion, Topolsky offered, "The Torch seems sluggish,
underpowered and dated from a hardware design standpoint, and BlackBerry 6,
despite its new features and polish, still feels woefully behind the curve."
Perhaps the most fun any of the reviewers had with the Torch was giving in
to the puns RIM so easily delivered up. Topolsky wrote that with the Torch, RIM
failed to create a product that can "ignite a buyer's desire to own
something," while Segan, at PCMag, added that the Torch "keeps the
flame alive, but it's not a barn-burner."