Where the Torch 9860 stumbles big time is its virtual keyboard. What makes a virtual keyboard successful is a combination of intuitive software and the “tactile” feedback of the screen. The Torch disappoints in this regard. Finding the right letters is challenging for those with big thumbs, and when you do find them, the auto-correct kicks in and intervenes. Why not deactivate the built-in dictionary? Because auto-correct can go a long way in hastening input on a virtual keyboard. Forego the dictionary and you'll be slowed down, use it and you'll find yourself arguing with it when it comes to Tagalog words.
BlackBerry OS 7
The rest of the Torch 9860's software, the latest version called BlackBerry 7, is vibrant, smooth and intuitive enough. But it's easy to get lost in the layers of menus if you're searching for something. You will have to resort to googling for instructions every now and then, a rare occurrence when using Apple or Android phones. It may seem a bit unfair to keep comparing the 9860 to other devices, but that's how things are in smartphone arena these days. Besides, the very existence of the Torch line is because of competition. If the iPhone wasn't so dominant this keyboard-less BlackBerry might not exist.
Everything else is still classic BlackBerry. The elegance and the solid construction are still here. Battery life is decent, being able to last more than a day with moderate usage (with Wi-Fi, 3G and multimedia). Not impressive but at least it doesn't go searching for the charger after being separated from it for less than a day like this handset.
In the end, BlackBerry's troubles can be traced to its slow adjustment to a fast-paced industry. This smartphone is one of its strategies to penetrate the market dominated by Android and Apple. But in this game, it's all about apps, and BlackBerry apps are but a fraction of the programs available for other smartphones. The Torch 9860 may have improved in multimedia aspects, but the lack of a physical keyboard compromises its traditional strengths. Someone better port Temple Run to this platform quickly. Its SRP of P24,690 is not as expensive as the touchscreen flagships handset from other companies, but it's not cheap either. Given its specs, we expected something a bit more affordable. But, then again, it is a BlackBerry and, as we all know, BlackBerrys don't come cheap.
We have this to say, however. The Torch 9860 is a very good device, one that tells us that, hey, RIM has what it takes to battle in the touchscreen multimedia phone market. Sure, it has its share of drawbacks (which all handsets have) but at least it's also something that the Canadian-titan can look to when designing future handsets with large touchscreens. In other words, we're definitely looking forward to the Torch 9860's successors. In this regard at least, the future looks bright for the BlackBerry-maker.
Click here to check out the BlackBerry Torch 9860 in the Buyer's GuideCheck out the gallery below for photos