Last week, Research in Motion released the latest Blackberry model, the Torch, exclusively on the AT&T network. The Torch has a lot of pressure on it – it’s no secret that RIM wants this device to be it’s “iPhone Killer”, and bring consumers back to the Blackberry platform. But will the Torch succeed? What has been lacking in Blackberry devices for all of these years? We’ll visit a few of Blackberry’s shortcomings and see if the Torch really fixes them.
This isn’t the first touchscreen Blackberry. There have been 2 previous versions of the “Storm”. Unfortunately, it never went over well. Not much has changed with the new screen, and it’s resolution still lags behind it’s main competitors, leaving text looking somewhat blocky and images a little unclear. They’ve also removed the SurePress technology from the Storm series that made the entire screen “clickable”.
Blackberry OS6 and Web Browsing
The Torch is the first Blackberry device to use version 6 of the BlackberryOS. Included with the re-vamped OS, is a brand new, webkit-compatible web browser. Finally — Blackberry’s awful web browser has been replaced with one that actually WORKS. For me, this is the most notable change. The new browser is modern, renders web pages correctly (though not as fast as the iPhone), and has support for pinch-to-zoom and tabbed browsing. One thing it does (unfortunately) have in common with the iPhone is the lack of Flash support.
The new Torch supports not only an on-screen touch-sensitive virtual keyboard, but also a more traditional standard Blackberry keyboard that slides out from under the phone. It’s a little bit more compact than the keyboard on other Blackberry’s, but for those that don’t like touch keyboards, this is a handy feature.
One of the most interesting new features is the Social Feeds app that comes built into the OS. It combines all of your social networking feeds from Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and RSS feeds into one, attractive, easy-t0-use interface. The problem is — it’s only for viewing. If you want to reply to a Facebook post, you have to do it in the dedicated Facebook app (also pre-installed). But now you are using 2 separate apps — one for reading and another for posting. Not very handy.
A few other miscellaneous upgrades have been put into this new device, including more user-friendly handling of media, WiFi syncing of the phone to your computer, and a very handy feature called Universal Search, which finds anything, anywhere on your Blackberry. And I mean ANYTHING.
Based upon this latest showing, it doesn’t look like the Torch is going to be “killing” anything in the smartphone market. Don’t get me wrong — Blackberry fans will LOVE all of the improvements. But the Torch still doesn’t stand up to it’s latest competition very well.
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