The Berry without the board


Staff member
Research in Motion released their first touch-screen phone — the BlackBerry Storm — in 2008 which, to put it nicely, missed the mark. Since then, there have been a few iterations of the BlackBerry phones which feature only touch screens. It may seem that by not including the keyboard, BlackBerry has not included the biggest strength of the devices; it's as if the "berry" has been removed from the BlackBerry. However, there seems to be a section of users who prefer this form factor.

Now they're out with Torch 9800, and device in design is in line with that of the other BlackBerry devices — all-glossy black in front and curves in all the right places. On the front is a touch screen with four buttons and the touchpad in the centre. The sides feature a chrome frame that surrounds the matte battery door at the top and bottom. In terms of connectivity, the devices features a USB port, a headphone socket, volume rocker and a dedicated camera button; the last of which is lacking on phones by many smartphone manufacturers.

As is the case with all BlackBerry devices, the build quality is nothing short of excellent and the phone, weighing in at 135 grams, is right in the sweet spot.

Featuring the OS7, the 9860 is definitely user friendly and seems to be optimised for touch. The transitions are smooth and the touch screen is very responsive. Of course, part of the credit goes to the 1.2GHz processor powering this phone.

The display is spread across a screen size of 3.7 inches with a resolution of 800x480. While this is by no means a slump of a resolution, we're seeing higher resolution on phones already. Although the on-screen keyboard is adequately spaced on the screen, it takes a fair amount of time to get used to. Even after that typing speed doesn't come close to that on the physical BlackBerry keyboards — what seemed to be a joy now becomes a chore.

The BlackBerry 9860 features a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with an LED flash. As has been the case with BlackBerry cameras, they are not going to replace your regular camera but they do the job of secondary camera quite well. What is welcome is the ability to shoot HD videos on the phone at 720p. The quality is rather good, with a high amount of detail and little or no motion blur.

The 9860 certainly has a lot of merits and matches up to the other phones in the OS7 release camp. However, most BlackBerry users who have been used to the BlackBerry keyboard will miss it sorely.

Bhavishya Kanjhan is a digital marketing professional and an early adopter of all things digital. Follow his tweets on @bhavishya