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Review: BlackBerry 6 WebKit Browser on the BlackBerry Torch 9800

Capture on 08-10-2010 09-36-42 One of the most common questions I have been asked about BlackBerry 6 and the BlackBerry Torch 9800 was how the new WebKit browser performs. I have to say that it is just stunning and easily holds it own with the competition. Others have already covered how fast it loads pages but I wanted to give you a nice preview of what to expect with the browser. I tried throwing a few screwballs at the browser like opening 13 tabs and then loading one of the most JavaScript intensive websites I know of (chartbeat) that reloads data every two seconds.

The results? It handles beautifully! Check out why below…

I will first walk you through some of the options. The main thing I noticed is that RIM has integrated a popup blocker which is kind of necessary now that we have tabs and popups. The other thing I wanted to point out is that the regular browser keyboard shortcuts I love like G for GoTo are disabled by default but you can turn them back on.

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I threw one of the most JavaScript intensive automatically updating sites I know of at the browser and it worked like a charm. ChartBeat gives real time statistics on what people are looking at on BerryReview. You can see some of it below:

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I love the new tabbed browsing which is super fast and fluid. If you load a tab and move away from it before it fully loads it the loading will pause until you come back. Still I am amazed how easy RIM made this. EVERYTHING in the BlackBerry 6 OS should be this fast! I also love the option to close all the other tabs other than the one you are on.

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I tried seeing if there was a low max on how many tabs I could have open. I got up to 13 with no speed degradation. Impressive work!

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I was happy to see how well sites that are meant for the Android and iPhone WebKit browser render perfectly on the BlackBerry WebKit browser. Not all of them redirect properly but you can easily find out what the URL is like My favorite so far is the fully usable Google Reader mobile web-app.

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RIM added some nice additional perks to the WebKit browser like the ability to easily get to URL options by clicking the globe button and selecting from multiple search engines. As we mentioned before they also added the ability to easily double tap on the screen to zoom into text. It didn’t work everywhere but when it does it is genius.

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RIM also added an easy way to create your own homescreen shortcut out of any URL so you can turn any URL into a sort of web-app on your homescreen. The only downside I found is that it uses the Favicon from the site and crops it in an odd way…

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So now you probably want to know how it renders sites that you visit. Here are some great samples. I was disappointed to see how bad the Amazon mobile site was and I could not get it to go to the Android/iPhone optimized version:

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  • Blazing fast speed
  • Great transition speed between tabs
  • Does a great job handling JavaScript
  • Page displays as it loads
  • Searches your history and bookmarks as you type


  • Browser shortcuts disabled by default
  • Not all sites redirect to a WebKit enhanced version (not really RIMs fault)
  • No autocomplete for searches

In summary BlackBerry users are going to be blown away with this new browser. It is a real game changer for RIM and nobody will laugh anymore when they try to pass web applications as equal to native applications. It should be interesting to see what developers come up with!

Let me know if I missed anything!

6 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Probably won’t happen, but if they had something like NoScript for firefox, would be awesome…

  2. Greasemonkey would be even cooler!!!

  3. Thanks for the review! How would you compare the user experience to browsing in iOS or Android?

  4. Great stuff. Thanks for that. I am pleased to see it is not smoke & mirrors! Just because it says “webkit” doesn’t mean RIM is back in the game. However, RIM has certainly did something special with the browser. I just wish they had a larger device to showcase it… something with a 4 or 4.3-inch screen maybe? I know the BlackPad is coming but it would be nice to get just the browser on OS 5.0.x. It would make a huge difference!

  5. My only question is how long does the battery last ? if I browse like crazy on my bold (which is about everyday) I have to charge it at least twice a day…

    • That is something I have been noticing. Battery life on the 9800 is a real pain. It has already almost died today… Went down from 90% in the morning to 10% by 2pm but that was with everybody playing with it…

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