This review follows our in-depth review of the Bold 9900. Besides the obvious design differences, and the lack of NFC, the Torch and Bold models are essentially the same.
Each has the same operating system (BlackBerry OS V7) and 1.2GHz processor, so rather than repeat everything from the original review I've concentrated on the key differences between this and the Bold.
With the Bold 9900 now having a touchscreen, one of the main differentiators between the Bold and Torch family has disappeared. The 9810 has been given a bit of a makeover, with a shinier finish, but at first glance you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between this and the original 9800.
One reason to opt for the Torch over the Bold is the bigger screen, but with the Bold 9900 having upped the resolution to 640x480 pixels this also rains on its parade a little. Besides being a little bigger, the only real difference is that the Torch has the screen in a portrait mode and the Bold goes for landscape.
This does make a difference to how you view the screen, emails, and the web. Of course, you can rotate the screen, but portrait will be the mode of choice for when you use the integrated keyboard.
In either mode, the Torch feels nice in the hand when closed, allowing easy use of the touchscreen and optical navpad to use the device when the keyboard isn't needed.
For reading messages or browsing web pages, the speed of the device means everything responds instantly and will seem like a huge leap for anyone who has come from an older BlackBerry. Put into context, the processor is almost twice as fast as the original Torch 9800.
Still in focus
The 5-megapixel camera has retained its autofocus sensor, as well as getting the same HD video (1280x720 pixel) recording as the 9900. It gives the 9810 a slight edge over the 9900, as autofocus improves the image quality, as well as allowing for close-up image taking.
As with the Bold, you have a dedicated camera button on the side to allow you to quickly fire up the camera.
If you see the new Bold as a little on the slim side, there's a bigger and weightier feel here. Don't think that the bigger casing means a much bigger battery, however. Instead of the Bold 9900's 1,230mAh battery, RIM has packed in a battery that offers 1,270mAh.
It's such a tiny battery capacity increase that you're probably talking about adding a matter of minutes to the standby time, or possibly even going the other way due to the larger screen that has to be illuminated.
The main reason for the extra depth is to accommodate the slide-out keyboard, which has been modified but still can't match the feel of the Bold. It's narrower and not quite as tactile, although it's far enough down the slider to make it easy to use the top row of keys.
Making the effort
It's a shame RIM couldn't have designed the phone so the slider squeezed in a fifth row of keys, making it easier to enter numbers. This would have given it a real edge over the Bold. Instead, it ends up being second best.
With the keyboard stowed away, you can use an on-screen keyboard instead. The keyboard takes up the bottom half of the screen in portrait mode, and just over half in landscape. RIM has copied Apple in that the keys are always shown as capitals.
When you press 'shift', a slight outline appears on the key to show you're typing in uppercase. It works, but isn't immediately obvious and can result in entering uppercase when you wanted lowercase, and vice versa. This can become frustrating when entering passwords.
You will soon get used to it, especially if you've used an Apple device, so it's not a deal-breaker, but it would have been nice to have had the keys switch in the way they do on Android or Windows Phone devices. Thanks to multi-touch, you can also hold 'shift' and press a key at the same time for capitals.
The Torch is at its best when you're consuming content, and the screen does have the edge over the Bold by being that bit bigger. If you're not entering text all the time, but do need to read emails or look at documents with minor amendments, the 9810 might make a better choice than the Bold.
The Torch looks less like a device to be used exclusively for work, but the reality is that there's nothing you can do on the Bold that you can't on the Torch. It runs all the same apps and games, built on the exact same version of the operating system.
Actually, there's one thing you don't get, and that's NFC support. This might be an issue going forward, but certainly not in the near future due to the many issues the industry needs to sort out first.
If entering text isn't the most important reason for owning a BlackBerry, you may want to consider the next model up, the 9860, which relies solely on the on-screen keyboard.
This has an even taller screen and an even higher resolution (800x480 pixels). The Torch sits somewhat awkwardly between the Bold 9900 and the Torch 9860, as it tries to be the best of both worlds.