NAME: BlackBerry Torch 9800

PRICE: $199.99 on a two-year contract with AT&T

THE BACK STORY: Most of us would have gone full iPhone if Apple had figured out a way to put a physical keyboard on that sucker and rip off the BBM software. Alas, BlackBerry has kept those of us with jobs close because of its corporate email functionality, while also keeping those of us with social lives using the devices because of its beloved BBM. The touchscreen on the Torch is tight, it works, and when you need it, there is a keyboard for getting real work done. The new phone debuts the new BlackBerry software, BlackBerry 6, and also introduces universal search. Viewing the full Internet on this thing finally makes sense now that you can pinch and pull the screen size via the touchscreen. So should you go in and buy this thing? Read on to find out...


Touchscreen and keyboard: Having a choice when it comes to message construction is the future in smartphones. The touchscreen is great for scrolling through menus, doing quick replies, or when you have time to kick back, turn the screen sideways, and bang out social-media messaging by pinching and pulling to adjust the screen size. When you have to get stuff done quickly and accurately, the full QWERTY keyboard is a lifesaver.

<!--more--> Full Internet browser: If you've been alive for the past three years, you know that the words "Mobile Version of This Site" might as well mean "garbage." BlackBerry 6 software x touchscreen means all-you-can-eat Internet, and it's awesome for both work and "Let's Wikipedia it" social moments.

Advanced messaging: The Torch comes with new group-messaging features including reply all, a nice touch to the SMS process. It also has a "Locations" feature that helps you find restaurants and other points of interest and then insert the address and info directly into messages.

Universal Search: All phones should have this. Now BlackBerry does.

Menu customization: Your "All" screen can get filled up pretty quickly, so the Torch allows you to access shortcut buttons via different screens that you can easily switch between by side-scrolling. Find the program or app you're looking for on the "All" menu, or find it in a more pared-down one: Favorites, Frequent, Downloads, or Media.

Social networking and RSS feeds: You can pull your Social Media programs into the same feed, which is nice. Having access this fast to your friends' idiocy is a battery-waster, but it's dope. The same functionality can also apply to selected RSS feeds. It's a great function for staying in the know.


Not great for reckless phone users: If you put your phone in your back pocket and go out hard, this phone could get messed up. It's a high-level piece of machinery, but the slidable keyboard has potential to break in the wrong hands. Be careful: sliding the keyboard out unlocks the phone and might have you accidentally calling the wrong lady at the wrong time. Not a deal-breaker, but something to keep in mind.

Average battery: We're not going to say this has a bad battery, because it doesn't. Buuut it does get drained when you use it too much. It's easy to check your Twitter, stocks, play with apps, etc., so the battery can get washed out after a day of going in on the thing. Once it goes, it goes, so when you see it get to the red, make sure you plug it in immediately. Keep your usage calm and you should be OK.

Small keypad buttons: If you've played with the Bold and were bummed on the size and shape of the keypad buttons, this is worse. The buttons are smaller than the Bold. Is it light years ahead of its competitors' touchscreen keypads? Yes. Is it as user-friendly as the old Curve buttons? No.

It's not the Apple or Android App store (Yet): There's a limit to the apps at your disposal. There are plenty here for us, but if you want to play Fieldrunners and Scrabble on the phone you're supposed to be using for work, you're going to have to wait for the BlackBerry App World to build.


FINAL SAY: The new BlackBerry is dope, and it has the, "What's that" thing going for you. You will get people interested in what you have. The phone is good, and the sound is clear. The email client is one of the best, and it has a keyboard. If you're in the market for a new phone, we recommend this. It is worth it, and there is not a better one coming out until at least next spring, so put it on your list of "things I have to have to be cool" and the "things I need to get my job done". Co-signed.