BlackBerry Bold 9790

Feature set summary for BlackBerry Torch 9860 review
The 9860 boasts a video player that offers support for all kinds of formats, including DivX and Xvid, as well as a five-megapixel snapper that can record 720p video and is the best we’ve seen on a BlackBerry. The display is a ‘Liquid Graphics’ one, that offers clarity and brightness, and performance is smooth thanks to 768MB RAM and a 1.2GHz chip.

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Style and handling summary for BlackBerry Torch 9860 review
The 9860 has shiny, glossy curves, finished off with chrome edging that adds a modern look to the plastic body. It manages to include five hard keys on the front, even though it has a full 3.7in touch display.

Battery power summary for BlackBerry Torch 9860 review
You’ll get about 13 hours out of a full charge – about average for a smartphone, but not so long for a BlackBerry – that large screen drains the juice.

Performance summary for BlackBerry Torch 9860 review
Web browsing is speedier than on the more expensive Android phones and the iPhone, and the universal inbox is a great tool for organising all your emails, texts, calendar events and so on. The operating system is easy to use and the display offers a smooth and responsive experience.

User friendliness summary for BlackBerry Torch 9860 review
Top of the list is the superbly efficient messaging system, while the five homescreen panels make it easy to organise your apps. It’s just a shame that the onscreen keyboard has that slight lag.

Full Review and Specification for the Blackberry Torch 9860

Who would have thought it – a BlackBerry device made for multimedia, and that has no QWERTY keyboard? Surely not. But wait, there’s more – it also has a ‘Liquid Graphics’ display. What is going on? It’s true, the latest Torch 9680 is RIM’s third full-touch device – and its USP is its multimedia magic and its specially named display.


RIM has produced touch devices before – remember the Black Storm handsets? Happily, Rim has abandoned those ‘piezo-electronic’ displays and joined the rest of the world by including a capacitive screen. This measures 3.7 inches and is contained in a curved plastic chassis that has a discreet matt grey backing. Adding a touch of modernity is the body’s chrome edging.

But there are still a few buttons to be seen – under the screen there are five – for OK (rather odd when you should be able to tap on the screen to select), Call, End, Back and Menu.

Screen test

Beneath the chassis there’s a 1.2Ghz chip that keeps the handset running smoothly and speedily, although we still found the screen froze occasionally (while the hard keys were still functional).

The screen – which BlackBerry has dubbed a ‘Liquid Graphics’ WVGA – offers a clarity and brightness not seen on most BlackBerrys, but it also drains power, which means you’ll only get 13 hours from a fully charged battery.

However, it is smooth and responsive – until you try to use the virtual keyboard. Speedy typists will be annoyed by the lag between tap and input. And the auto-correct is far from perfect. Overall the keyboard is a disappointment, it feels small and can’t compete with the traditional BlackBerry keyboards.

The screen is somewhere between the 3.5inch display of the iPhone and the 4.3 inches of the Samsung Galaxy S II. Comparing it with the Super AMOLED Plus screen on the Galaxy, it does well when it comes to clarity but it isn’t as bright. The iPhone 4 is similar in terms of colour, but wins on clarity.

While iOS and Android allow apps on the homescreen, the BlackBerry 7 OS does not. Instead, you are offered five swipeable panels on which to place Media, Downloads and Favourites, as well as All-Programs. The Frequent panel is automatically updated with your most-used apps. While you can stretch the panels to fit the screen, when you head for home, you’ll have a lot of unused space – make sure you choose a really nice wallpaper, because you’ll have plenty of it to look at!

At the core of most activity is the Menu button – this is where you’ll get most options for your apps. In the top-notch Facebook app, for example, you’ll be able to gain access to the features you’d get on a desktop, and the menu button gives you all kinds of action possibilities.

You’ve got mail

As you’d expect from a BlackBerry, mailing and messaging is still at its heart. Helping this along is the excellent universal inbox, which includes messages from BlackBerry Messenger, text, email and other apps. There is also a universal calendar featuring events from webmail, Microsoft Exchange and Facebook. When you’re emailing you discover the reason for that odd OK button – it’s easy to send a message by hitting the OK button, which has a default option of ‘Send’.

Media magic

What really makes this device a contender in the media stakes, though, is its video player, which offers support for all kinds of formats including the popular DivX and Xvid files, along with MP4, H.263 and H.264. We did find it odd that its maximum volume is actually rather low, though. We had to set it to 80% or more to hear it – however, once you can hear it, the audio proves warm and detailed with some good bass present.

Transferring files is simple via USB – and you are able to drag and drop them or sync your handset and computer. It’s odd though that if you are playing music, you need to use the shortcut icon to get yourself over to the player.
Web surfing

Surfing the net is a far more impressive experience than it was using OS 6. The browser supports Flash and full HTML – but its biggest attraction is that it renders web pages so quickly. It proved faster than both the HTC Sensation and iPhone 4 in our tests.

Thumbnails of your bookmarked pages can be seen on the homepage – just scroll down to see the last pages you logged on to. The address bar doubles up as a search field – you can use voice search by holding this down. You also have options to see open tabs, open new ones, and copy or send links. You can also save web pages to the Favourites panel.


With the likes of Android Market and Apple’s App Store to compete with, the BlackBerry App World seems rather short on stock – and it is more expensive too. It’s better than it used to be, but anyone who wants entertainment and games apps is likely to be disappointed. There’s plenty to choose from if you’re after useful handy office tools, though.

What BlackBerry Messenger 6 has done though, is to introduce integration with its apps into its chat program – these have their own area in App World. They allow you to chat to BBM friends in the middle of apps or games ­– and you can share these apps too.


As well as the apps issue, BlackBerrys have also never been able to compete with the snappers on rival smartphones. The five-megapixel model on the 9860 is the best we have seen on a RIM device, but don’t get excited just yet. Sure, autofocus was okay and our pictures didn’t suffer from overexposure when using the LED flash. But our outside shots were too bright and indoor shots suffered from dull colours and a yellow tinge.

However, if you’re just after images to upload to Facebook, the camera is good enough. It’s a shame that there is no dedicated camera button though – you have to use a touch-shutter to take a shot – not good if you’re unsteady of hand.
Our conclusion

BlackBerrys have long been the device of choice for business users, and even while Rim is regaling us with its new ‘multimedia’ device, it seems to be clinging on to its core users by doggedly hanging on to the things that keep its business users happy.

Its touchscreen has a smooth, speedy performance, despite the lag on its keyboard – and yet Rim has felt the need to be squeezed on its traditional OK and menu buttons. The phone’s top feature is messaging, but that has been affected by the less-than-perfect keyboard. This is definitely a phone that doesn’t quite know where it wants to go – not quite a BlackBerry Bold, certainly not an iPhone.