First Impressions of the Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9850/9860

12 Comments

BlackBerry 7 fan night
More pictures from the event available from PhotoJunkie.ca.

First of all, can you believe these model numbers? RIM couldn’t have made them more confusing. I have been writing about BlackBerry for years and I simply cannot remember what device they’re talking about when they say 9850, 9860 or 9810. The 98xx doesn’t even represent the same device anymore. You used to be able to write 97XX and you knew the 9700 and 9780 both looked the same, but not anymore. From now on, we’re going to refer to the devices by name only. The following seem most appropriate:

Bold 9900 = Bold Touch
Torch 9810 = Torch 2
Torch 9850/9860 = Storm 3

Recently, we attended the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night in Toronto and we had an opportunity to get some quality time with RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 7 devices. There are a lot of things to say about these devices with some Pros and Cons for each of them. Generally, these devices are everything we saw last year but turned up around 40%. The user experience is faster, with homescreen switching and app launching all happening much faster (Liquid Graphics), and the web browsing experience is also much faster. The Torch 9850 and 9860, aka the Storm 3, seems to be RIM bringing back the all-touch experience (with trackpad), and it’s probably the most risky of the BlackBerry 7 devices.

Before we go into why you should or should not get these devices, we should make a mention of why you should or should not care about BlackBerry 7. BlackBerry 7 is the stepping stone between BlackBerry 6 and QNX. It’s an awkward transition (most are), as BlackBerry 7 does not support BlackBerry 6 and will not be upgradable to QNX. If you get a BlackBerry 7 device, hopefully you have the cash to upgrade to QNX in Q1 of next year.

BlackBerry Torch 9850 and 9860

blackberry torch devices

The Storm 3 is the riskiest of the three devices that were recently announced by RIM. The Bold is the flagship and will do great in terms of sales and the Torch 2 will be able to ride on the success of the first Torch. The Storm 3 is the wild card in terms of success and the device being shown at the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night had some decent hardware but it’s the software that makes the device and this isn’t clear yet. Everything that will make the Storm 3 awesome isn’t out yet and probably won’t be out for some time. Sure, the initial preloaded apps are great, but if there aren’t any developers taking advantage of the Augmented Reality APIs or the BBM Social Platform, the Storm 3 won’t reach its full potential.

Why you should buy:

  • Feels great in your hand.
  • Screen resolution is great and rich media looks awesome.
  • Magnetometer will make navigation, games and apps much better.
  • New virtual keyboard design makes typing much easier.
  • Video records at 720p HD.
  • 5MP, zero-shutter lag camera.

Why you shouldn’t buy:

  • It may take developers a few months to release support for this device. The new screen size and input methods could make it a pain for some apps to port.
  • Does not have NFC support.
  • BlackBerry Torch 9810

    balckberry torch 2

    The Torch 2 is a decent upgrade for those who either own a Torch and want the same form factor, or those who wanted a Torch 1 and can afford the upgraded version. The Torch is a great form factor as it truly combines business and pleasure. The touchscreen and full QWERTY allow you to experience rich media and type out important emails all from the same device. It also embodies a core advantage of BlackBerrys which is choice. With the Torch you have the choice between a touchscreen and keyboard device, making it an easy sell for a wide range of users.

    Why you should buy:

    • 4G speeds on AT&T
    • 5 megapixel camera with HD 720p video recording
    • 8 gigabytes of onboard storage
    • Slightly improved keyboard over the Torch 1 (a little more ergonomic)
    • Magnetometer will make navigation, games and apps much better.

    Why you shouldn’t buy:

    • Still a fairly bulky device.
    • Not too much differentiating it from the Torch 1
    • No NFC

    BlackBerry Bold 9900

    We believe the Bold Touch is definitely the best device out of all three. The Bold line is the flagship device at RIM and while we would have loved all three devices to have NFC, it turns out the Bold Touch is the only one with NFC support. This is sort of like how OpenGL was only enabled in a few CDMA devices which made it not viable to develop games using the OpenGL standards. NFC will be featured on other platforms so it’s not completely the same, but it definitely takes some of the fun out of NFC to know that only one BlackBerry supports it, even though RIM committed to NFC. The Bold Touch’s real advantage is what made the Bold 9000 the best – the keyboard. The form factor of the Bold Touch is reminiscent of the 9000 but brings a modern feel to it. The device is extremely lightweight and beautifully designed. The touchscreen is great too as it gives you another input method to browse the web and scroll. This device is everything we love about BlackBerry and we hope that when the QNX devices launch, we’ll see a big upgrade to the Bold line. RIM – can we have the scroll wheel back? That would be the ultimate in nostalgia.

    Why you should buy:

    • NFC support
    • Thin and lightweight – making it the slickest BlackBerry ever
    • Iconic in every sense – keyboard, screen and form factor.
    • Touchscreen gives a great browsing and navigating experience.
    • Superior build quality.
    • Magnetometer will make navigation, games and apps much better.

    Why you shouldn’t buy:

    • If you can wait for QNX then do it.
    • If you’re looking for a bigger screen you may prefer Torch 2 or Storm 3.
    • If you have big fingers then the touchscreen may be awkward.

    Final Notes:

    It seems like the 2011 devices are the end of an era in a sense. They will all ship with BlackBerry 7 and which will not be upgradable to the QNX platform so whether you pick up these devices seems dependent on your purchasing cycle and whether you can afford to wait until Q1 2012. If you buy a smartphone every year, then these devices are definitely good enough to hold off until QNX, but if you buy a smartphone only once every two years, we recommend you wait. The QNX platform, assuming it will be like the PlayBook, just has so much cool stuff that’s possible for it such as OS emulation on your smartphone. Even though we don’t know for sure yet, we imagine the QNX smartphone being the first smartphone to run every app on the market. Consumers who love their BlackBerrys will appreciate the new toys and functionality that these devices bring and will definitely keep you entertained and productive until QNX arrives.

    • http://www.andrewmcwhirter.com Andrew McWhirter

      Your only adding to the naming confusion by making up your own names. 
      And I’m sure the Torch 9850/60 will be a huge hit. It looks sexy, and there are a lot of people out there who want an all touch Blackberry. I’ll have to get my hands on each one of them and give a test drive before making up my own mind. I’m leaning towards the Bold 9900 from what I’ve seen however.

    • http://www.andrewmcwhirter.com Andrew McWhirter

      Your only adding to the naming confusion by making up your own names. 
      And I’m sure the Torch 9850/60 will be a huge hit. It looks sexy, and there are a lot of people out there who want an all touch Blackberry. I’ll have to get my hands on each one of them and give a test drive before making up my own mind. I’m leaning towards the Bold 9900 from what I’ve seen however.

    • Joseph Loria

      Kyle, I agree with most of what you said, with one exception: I don’t see how we can bank on the quality and depth of a 1.0 build of a QNX phone.  Just look back at version 1 of iOS or webOS or even the Playbook.  It’s unfair to compare a version 7 OS against a version 1 OS and assume the latter will be any better.  I am skeptical at best about the QNX phone and think it will take through next year for it to be a real contender, so the wait time is longer than just into Q1, it’s another year plus.  At least for me.

    • Tired

      No NFC in these devices is not a con. NFC is a non-factor at this point and it will be at least a year, if not more, before anything useful uses NFC. By the time it is widely used it will be time to upgrade to a new device.
      Just because other manufacturers are putting them in every phone doesn’t mean they are a feature. It only becomes a feature when it can be used.

    • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

      I’m not really making up my own names. Almost every site I’ve seen write about the 9810 calls it the Torch 2 and the Bold Touch has become common around the web. The Storm 3 hasn’t been very popular but I actually spoke to a few people at RIM who call it that. 

    • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

      Good point. Version 1.0 of the QNX phone will probably feel a little beta. Especially since rumors are saying it is being rushed. 

    • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

      Good point. Version 1.0 of the QNX phone will probably feel a little beta. Especially since rumors are saying it is being rushed. 

    • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

      The point I was really trying to make was that I was expecting all devices to support NFC which would drive developers to take advantage. Since there’s only 1 device using it, we’ll have to wait longer for the value to really come out. So yes, it’s a non-factor, but only because it’s such a weak start.

    • akbar.a

      I agree with Kyle as I always see Torch 2 and Bold Touch written on blogs, articles and online magazines.
      I just have not seen anyone write Storm 3 except for you. Its arguably easier to identify these phones with names instead of say a word and then a number.

    • akbar.a

      I agree with Kyle as I always see Torch 2 and Bold Touch written on blogs, articles and online magazines.
      I just have not seen anyone write Storm 3 except for you. Its arguably easier to identify these phones with names instead of say a word and then a number.

    • http://www.cacell.co.za/BlackBerry-Torch-9810 Kevin – Blackberry 9810 Freak

      what do you guys think of the Blackberry 9860 vs. Blackberry 9810 aka Blackberry Torch 2 ?

    • Allthestylesmen

      Seriously? The numbers confuse you? Talk about amatteurism… And that picture is not even the Torch 9819, it’s the original 9800. Bitch.