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BlackBerry Torch Review Part II: Design and Ergonomics

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I have to say that at first time you use it and play with it the design and ergonomics of the Torch feel off. Once I had a chance to try and get some real business done on it I have found it TOTALLY changed how I use my BlackBerry. The easy transition between touchscreen, trackpad, and keyboard have really started to grow on me. I think I now understand why I first gave it a knock for poor design. It has one annoying flaw that it shares with the BlackBerry 9630 & 9650, horrible placement of the USB charging port.

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While at the launch event I mostly played with a 9800 that was tethered down with both a security wire AND and USB charger. As you can see the USB charger on the 9800 is just in one of the most uncomfortable positions when you are typing especially if you have the keyboard tray closed. It digs right between your fingers though I am starting to get used to having it between my ring finger an middle finger.

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With that said I think RIM did some great work with the BlackBerry Torch 9800. I have always dreaded using slider and touchscreen/keyboard combo devices in the past but the 9800 succeeds where many others fail. Check out the highlights below:

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The good:

  • The keyboard is AMAZING! It has less resistance than the 9700 keyboard and is a dream to type on. I have found myself pounding out emails and BBM’s like no tomorrow.
  • When you open the keyboard the screen locks in portrait mode so you don’t have to worry about it changing orientation accidentally while typing.
  • The sliding mechanism is very smooth… You can feel that it is strong and you don’t even get any give when you try to separate the two pieces.
  • The rubber back cover makes it easy to hold the device and does not make your hands sweat.
  • The keys on the bottom of the touchscreen are not touch keys but they are very easy to press unlike other devices like the 9300. Also the trackpad is not tilted like the 9650!
  • RIM left a nice gap on top of the keyboard for you to hit those top keys without bumping against the top piece. If you have ever used a slider before you will understand why this is important.
  • The speakerphone is on the top instead of the bottom. I am glad they moved away from the bottom faced speaker after reintroducing it in the 9700.
  • The camera takes really nice shots and seems to be quick to autofocus
  • The device has a nice weight to it that makes it feel sturdy yet is is pretty heavy compared to the 9700…
  • The screen is nice and bright and withstood direct sunlight which is nice. Truthfully I was playing with an iPhone 4 yesterday and the difference between the screen resolutions would be hard to tell. The iPhone’s screen just looked darker and slightly more polished.
  • The touchscreen is nice and responsive. I have found it sometimes registers the wrong click but that really becomes an issue when I try to type on the portrait keyboard where the keys are very small. I have hit the send button a couple times when I meant to hit the backspace button.

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The bad:

  • I don’t know what usability expert is telling RIM that it is ok to put a charging/sync port right where users hands need to go…
  • The microphone is a bit muffled when the phone is closed compared to when it is open. It is only slight but I had two callers confirm it.
  • You will be missing the left side convenience key. I have found myself pressing that side over and over again…
  • The headphone jack is on the right side… It is taking some getting used to.
  • The lock and mute keys are a little too easy to press. They really have no resistance and are pressed in accidentally when you holster the phone.
  • The screen attracts some BAD fingerprints. I know this is the case with most touchscreens but recent ones have taken some steps to avoid it happening this quickly.

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All in all I have to say RIM did very well with the BlackBerry Torch 9800 design and ergonomics. The device is a real dream to use and feels great in your hand. So far I have found that the pros outweigh the cons and somehow BlackBerry 6 is really breathing a whole new life into this Marvell 624mhz processor.

Let me know if you have any questions!

8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Cant wait to get my hands on this :)

    Over all a nice review, awaiting an indepth one especially interested to know the ui lag, clutter etc.

  2. I cant wait to get it from this review… hopefully there isnt any major problems..
    Btw, i assume you have not applied any protectors (ie screen) yet?

  3. Get an anti glare screen protector, those things are magic for fingerprint prevention

  4. Can’t wait to get hands on this baby! Too Bad I am with T-Mobile. I hope this device gets released on T-Mobile also. What say Ronen? Or should I jump for unlocked one?

    Thanks

  5. I happen to like the phone also as I got to play with it in the AT&T store. If you are a regular blaxkberry user, you will definitely like this phone. This review is dead on. I actually have an iPhone 4 and I feel if I was to switch today to the torch, I wouldn’t miss much but the games. The keyboard was easy to use, actually better than the 9700. It’s just really nice to have the option to use the touch screen or the key pad. It’s like it should have been like that all along. If RIM would have gave it more speed, it definitely would have been perfect. The resolution didn’t bother me’ even after using the iPhone 4. To me’ it is comparable but of course iPhone wins but also looses with all the issues it has ( proximity sensor). I hate the iPhone with the sensor issue. Ok back to blackberry torch, my only gripe is no touch response when typing on the virtual keyboard. At least I couldn’t find that option

  6. Maybe you just have greasy hands?? lol. I completely agree with the charger issue. I loved the location on my pearl 8130. But my Tour has it in the lower right and it’s downright annoying. They should do opinion polls on items like this as well, not just apps in the Beta Zone.

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