BlackBerry only recently announced a slew of new smartphones out of which the Bold-Touch 9900 already made its mark on the nation and now it’s the upgrade to the Torch. Nearly a year after the original Torch arrived in the market; RIM has revealed the Torch 2 — or 9810 as it is model-named.

 

Blackberry Torch 9810 on video

Form Factor
From a design and form-factor point of view, the new 9810 is exactly like its predecessor. The build is just as solid, and as with the outgoing model, the new 9810 comes with almost the same set of standard features, too. If you’ve purchased the original Torch, then from the outside you’d find no change at all. The slide out QWERTY keypad is just as smooth, however, the keypad could have been just slightly more spread out to optimize typing. As is though, it’s not too bad. Probably the only thing that may give the phone away would be its new colour scheme: shiny silver instead of the gunmetal grey finish.

Exactly the same as the 9800

Exactly the same as the 9800

It’s still just a little on the heavy-set side at 161g and the rubberized sides do allow you to get a good grip on it. As usual the bundled handsfree and cables provided are still as good as they come. The inclusion of a smart case would have been brilliant or a memory card (hot-swap) for that matter but considering the internal storage has been beefed up to 8GB now, the latter point is quite mute. It never really was too hard on the eyes and the new jazzed up color combo adds a bit of elegance to the overall appearance. The 3.2-inch screen gets a decent bump in resolution as well, and it now runs at 480 x 640 pixels.

All new color makes it quite easy on the eyes

All new color makes it quite easy on the eyes

Features and Performance
While the exteriors might be the same there are a few very good changes on the inside–most important among them being the processor. With the inclusion of a 1.2GHz CPU, the 9810 can now play toe-to-toe with the fastest smartphones available in the market. This change along with OS 7.0 makes for a superb browsing and in-app experience. The phone responds and moves from task to task without any effort – screen renders are instantaneous. Browsing especially gets a huge shot in the arm, and we think even the fastest Android phones may struggle to keep up.

The new browser offers tabbed browsing and is quite speedy

The new browser offers tabbed browsing and is quite speedy

Media capabilities are still quite up there with the best, though the lack of 1080p video playback capabilities might be considered a drawback by some. It supports XviD and DivX codecs and plays most file formats except FLV and MKV. Music playback, thanks to the audio engine’s Audio Boost and EQ presets worked out just as well as any of RIM’s other offerings and the bundled handsfree proves to be quite comfortable and well-matched to the quality of output for both calls and music.

Doesn't play full HD content, not that you'd complain

Doesn't play full HD content, not that you'd complain

Although this device too, is equipped with a GPS module, you’ll still have to contend with BlackBerry Maps that will show you placed in the middle of an empty screen for Indian residents. The only other option is Google Maps or paying for a third party software.

Camera
The 5 megapixel auto focus camera (with LED flash) also remains unchanged. It features settings like image stabilization and geo tagging, face-detection, as well as continues auto focus while recording video at 720p. Image quality is just as good as the 9800’s. 

Quite crisp in macro

Quite crisp in macro

Battery Life
Powerful smartphones usually struggle to go beyond a day of rigorous use, and the 9810 is no different. A full-screen video run took 5 hours and 23 minutes to completely discharge the unit. This is decent, and you could potentially watch one movie everyday along with regular phone duty and make it till the end of the day. Our second batch of battery drain loop test is a bit more difficult: 2hrs of video, 2hrs of music, 1hr of streaming radio through Wi-Fi and an hour of call-time. The 9810 managed to easily complete one loop and there was about 25% battery life still left in the 1270mAh battery. With BlackBerry data services on, your results will vary depending on your data use, but it will manage to go on for about a day of intensive use.

The key pad is ok but could have been a little better spaced

The keypad is ok but could have been a little better spaced

Conclusion
The Torch 9810 is clearly a sign that BlackBerry is making rapid progress up the specifications tree. With processing speed and OS agility taken care of, they need to move swiftly to address their only remaining problem: Apps. However that too is a work in progress. With a price tag of Rs. 29,990, the Torch is all set to compete with the top level smartphones out there and can hold it’s own quite well. What’s rather ironic, is that its biggest competition, at least in niche consumer market it caters to will be RIM’s own Bold 9900 which is oddly more expensive. To sum things up, the Torch 9810 is a good piece of mobile hardware and quite worth the price.

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