The Blackberry Torch 9800 was released in the summer of 2010 and represented a new twist in the strategy from Blackberry. The Torch was a new family of phones altogether and was a response to the growing army of smartphones which was eating into the Blackberry popularity at the time.
Once of the major advantages of smartphones over the Blackberry phones was the touch screen, which made navigation much simpler. Whilst Blackberry did make some touch-screen phones in the Storm series, the Torch series was the first to fuse together the QWERTY keyboard and the ability to touch the screen.
It may have been felt that the smaller, 2.5 inch displays usually seen in standard Blackberry phones would be too small to benefit properly from a touchscreen handset, so rather niftily the QWERTY keypad was recessed in a slide. This allowed for a much bigger screen to be used, although at 3.2 inches in size this was still behind many smartphones.
Unfortunately for RIM, this type of design was not long-lived. Whilst there was a direct sequel the next year (the Blackberry Torch 9810), the slide style died out and many phones featuring the keypad simply added the touch function to their screens. Even phones with larger screens such as the Blackberry Passport opted for this style. Subsequent Torch models also dropped the slide and keypad altogether.
Pros of Blackberry Torch 9800
The phone retained the best of both worlds for users: the QWERTY keypad allowed messages to be composed easily, and the touchscreen allowed much greater usage, particularly with regard to the apps.
For those migrating from another Blackberry, the software is similar, and the phone retains the optical trackpad, in theory making the touchscreen optional.
The finish of the phone is a mixed bag, although the back is rubberised and built for durability.
The specifications of the phone are in line with the top end Blackberries at the time: we have a strong 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, microSD card slot, and Bluetooth 2.0.
Cons of Blackberry Torch 9800
The slide adds bulk to the phone: at over 160g this is not a sleek, lightweight model. The slide also means that fitting a protective case is impossible.
The screen is larger than previous Blackberry models, but the resolution is no better which makes the display look stretched. It is also much inferior to the corresponding iPhone models at the time.
The Torch 9800 represented an early foray into the world of touch, and at the time many apps did not really fully utilise it. Functions like gestures were also not as well done as they were on Apple.
Future Prospects and Current Pricing
Many older Blackberry models are fairly cheap. There may be several reasons for this: they are almost obsolete as phones, and they were plentiful at their peak. The Torch series however were a little different and may provide some welcome differentiation going forward.
Where can I get one?
Interested in more phones? See a list of phones I own here.