This is the best you can do?

I toyed around with a Blackberry Torch this weekend. I moved to an EVO (sprint) from a Bold (ATT) in June and when the Torch was announced, I had a tinge of buyer’s remorse. I have always LOVED Blackberries but simply felt the OS was outdated and slow compared to Android, so I impulsively made the switch. When the Torch was announced, I halfway hoped that the new BB OS and the new hardware wouldn’t make me regret having switched; the idea of having all the things I loved about my Blackberry (keyboard, handling of mail) wrapped in with a smoking new OS certainly DID seem appealing.

Fast forward to this weekend, and based on my 5 minute review, I have concluded the following: Blackberry is in SERIOUS trouble. The Torch is a disaster from start to finish. For starters, the hardware is awful. Despite a sleek design, the screen is far too small to compete with iPhone/Evo/Droid X smartphones. The keyboard (which slides out from below) is much flatter then previous BB iterations and the lip at the bottom of the phone makes the keys almost useless. The OS is better, but it still trails Android substantially. The speed is best described as “borderline slow” and the new features really just look like “lipstick on a pig” regarding the old versions of the software. Toss in that the App market is still thin compared to Android and Apple and I think Rim is going to need to move FAST to stay relevant in the smartphone market this year.

So what would I do to fix things? For starters, on the hardware side I’d look for a good answer as to why the original Bold form factor was ditched. The new Bold’s are smaller, which is great until you realize everyone else is moving to BIGGER phones. Second, and more important, is the speed of the device. My #1 reason for leaving BB for the EVO was that the BB simply doesn’t “go” fast enough compared to the Evo. If I recall correctly, the Torch is sporting about half the processor speed of the EVO and the iPhone. And that creates a noticeable lag. Outside of the mail service (which continues to be top-notch) there is nothing about any current BB’s performance that is better then the Android or IpHone line. Finally, the new browser is an improvement but still falls short of Android and iPhone. Particularly, integration between the browser and other parts of the phone is lacking. The EVO browser works seemlessly with Maps and Contacts and YouTube, etc. I didn’t get that feeling at all with the Torch.

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