Hands On With the BlackBerry Torch
The keyboard's sliding action is smooth, and the optical touchpad works perfectly fine. However, much like the scroll wheel on some Android phones, the touchpad does feel out of place on the Torch. Regardless of whether the physical keyboard was open or closed, we continually skipped over the pad in favor of interacting directly with the phone's 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen. The 360x480 screen pales in comparison to devices like the iPhone 4 or Droid X, but it was still perfectly readable. BlackBerry users will be pleased to see an improved 5-megapixel, flash-equipped camera; it's a big improvement over Berrys, but it's hardly putting RIM at the cutting edge of smartphone photography.
Our only concern is speed; the Torch felt a bit sluggish while navigating menus, and while swiping left and right between screens.
BlackBerry OS 6
The classic BlackBerry homescreen grid has been modified in favor of a swipe-friendly interface. Swiping right brings up your favorite apps, while going left shows your most frequently used apps. Like WebOS and Android, BlackBerry OS 6 brings a new 'Notification Previews' feature, which lets you quickly see messages, tweets, BlackBerry messenger notes and more. Taking a cue from other modern smartphones, BlackBerry OS 6 integrates Twitter, Google Chat, AIM, Facebook, MySpace, RSS and more into a new Unified Social Feeds app, collecting the activity from multiple social networks into a single feed.
Typing while on the homescreen will open OS 6's Universal Search, which will immediately begin displaying notes, contacts, e-mails, media and more that match your letters. It even searches BlackBerry's App World, saving you the need to jump into a dedicated market app just to find and start a download. Anyone that has tried to search their e-mail archives on older BlackBerry devices should find Universal Search to constitute a marked improvement.
As we mentioned, RIM is bringing a lot to the table with BlackBerry OS 6, and we're looking forward to spending more time with the Torch and the new system.