Review: Blackberry Torch

Ok, so here it finally is.  The Blackberry Torch.  I don’t even know  why I was worried that RIM would come out with something that would be serious competition to the iPhone 4.  This phone can barely compete with an iPhone 3Gs.  It’s basically the same hardware specs as a Bold with a bit more memory (more on that later).  On the “plus” side, I’m positive the new webkit based browser is an improvement over RIMs previous browsers since the previous browsers put out by RIM just plain suck.  It looks like a Bold and a Pre had a bit too much to drink one night and 9 months later, a Torch was born.

RIM thinks they have the business community on lock down because of the fast and secure Blackberry network, but the more Apple and eventually Android based phones beef up there enterprise level support, the more nervous RIM should get.  The reality of the situation is that huge droves of business folks out there are dying to get there hands on an iPhone.  Why?  Several reasons.  For starers, there’s the whole “elitist” and “upper class” impression that the iPhone has, and they want that same bragging rights that the rest of the iPhone community has.  Secondly, business people are not system integrators, and they long for ease of use and “it just works” factor that the iPhone brings, and the [insert RIM product here] does not.  The “physical keyboard” crowd will be happy to have their physical keyboard… big deal.  I know there’s the text freak crowd out there that just can’t do without, and RIM is scooping up that corner of the market by providing that crowd with their must have.  So that basically defined the form factor of the phone, a Palm Pre-like vertical slider exposing a very Blackberry-like physical keyboard, but the screen resolution isn’t much more than any pre – 4 iPhone, and the processor is about the same.

Memory… Oh how soon they forget.  Ok, I’ve had this argument about 100 times, and 100 times out of 100 times I say the same thing.  People complain that the iPhone doesn’t have a removable memory card, and the first thing I say when I hear that is “When is the last time you removed your memory card from your Phone?”  Dead silence… followed by a confused look, and then a statement that they’ve never removed it.  However, they’ll still sit there and defend how it’s possible to remove the card to copy data to their computer (something I do daily with my phone and the cable that’s a permanent fixture on my computer), or replace with another card to provide “unlimited” storage.  Well, no one has a fist full of pinky finger nail sized SD cards floating around their house, and generally only own ONE card, at most two, because they took out and tossed the massive 1 gigger that came with their phone to replace it with a 4 or 8 gig card.  So now they have a 4 or 8 gig card (and a 1 gig at home somewhere).

So what’s the big deal between removable vs non-removable?  Well, for starters, and probably most importantly is the fact that when you have a memory card, you have two volumes.  A phone memory volume and a card memory volume.   Now, bear in mind, most people are fairly retarded when it comes to computers, so they have no clue that they have to actually point to the card as a storage location.  So, not only do people have uselessly removable cards, in many cases, they’re not even using it because they’re snapping photos and videos and never deleting emails and text messages filling up their phone memory, and then calling the carrier to bitch that their phone is full even though they just bought a bigger memory card.  iPhones don’t have that issue.   Permanently installed storage memory allows for a single volume, and application and data being stored where it should be without user intervention.  So how does RIM deal with this issue?  They put 4 gig on the phone, and 4 gig on the card.  So you think you have an 8 gig device, but you don’t, you have 2 4 gig volumes complete with 2 partitions and 2 file allocation tables, which eats up more memory than 1 volume, and introduces the huh factor to people who can’t deal with knowing something fairly simple and straightforward as “you have 2 places to store data”.

As usual, RIM missed the boat.  The only pluses the device has to offer are Apple contributions.  Webkit for the browser, and a touch screen interface similar to an iPhone.  Beyond that, it’s pretty much a big huge yawn with nothing really new to add to the mix.  At least they named it right… or half right.  They should have named it Airplane Torch, because this phone is going to crash and burn.  Blackberry freaks will be impressed with it because of it’s iPhone like features, but if you’re lookin’ to drop $200 bucks and a 2 year agreement, why not just go for an iPhone 4 and get the best.  How RIM convinced themselves they can sell this already outdated phone with a decently improved OS at the same price as an iPhone 4 is completely beyond my comprehension.  I’m sure a good chunk of their business users will get one because they’re tied via their corporate policies dictating blackberries, but beyond that, they’re not going to impress the smart phone crowd as a whole.  I’m not really impressed with this latest attempt from RIM at all.