10 reasons why the BlackBerry Torch got sent back

Summary:The BlackBerry Torch was a perfect phone on paper for younger consumers and students alike. But in practice it failed and flopped. 10 reasons why you should not upgrade to a Torch.

To say that the BlackBerry Torch is the worst steaming pile of phone to have ever had the blessing of holding in one's hand, it would be grossly too kind.

Having to endure a week of this phone made me genuinely question my ability to function. My paranoid mind raged to its limits as I convinced myself I was in a hidden camera show, as the people at Research in Motion watched and gazed from afar, enjoying every moment of frustration that I endured.

The device has qualities where written on paper would be attractive and appealing to younger users, students in particular. Yet with a brisk walk across any college campus, you would be forgiven in thinking that the device even existed in the first place. A sea of BlackBerry and iPhones in the hands of young and older people alike, but not a single Torch.

My old rule applies. "Theory does not always equal practice."

I upgraded to a Torch after a long wait of network uncertainty after my existing contract expired. Within days of upgrading and having the device in my hands, I put forward a request to my network to cancel the contract upgrade and to return the handset.

Why?

The market becomes tried and tested by standards in technology. While it seems counter productive for newer, younger consumers like the Generation Y to revert back to seemingly 'old' technology and regressive operating systems, the younger consumer prefers to get a feel for the market.

There is no point in spending what little cash they have on technology that hasn't been tested by unfettering, foolish friends with more money than sense. They'll see a great experience from someone they know using technology they like the look of, and follow suit. It's why so many younger people have BlackBerrys or iPhones above anything else.

1. The device is disproportionately weighted

The Torch is very heavy for a phone, weighing in at 161g. The iPhone 4 is 137g and the popular BlackBerry Bold series range from 122g for newer models and 136g for older models alike. Suffice to say, you could use the Torch as a blunt instrument to kill someone with.

The biggest annoyance, however, is the slide-out keyboard is lighter than the screen, so your hands are pulled away from you by the sheer force of gravity when you type on the hardware keyboard, making it almost impossible to type.

2. There's an app for that...

Social applications already exist in OS 6, the operating system running on the Torch and available for some other handsets too. But this only allows you to post statuses across MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger and to read other status updates. For a Twitter reader, it's not so bad. As an interactive social feature, it falls flat on its face.

There are already a plethora of applications available, including Facebook and Twitter for BlackBerry which, in conjunction with both respective companies, are developed and produced by Research in Motion.

3. Touch and type: one or the other

If you write with one hand, you shouldn't be encouraged to write with the other. Not only will you get messy handwriting but you'll quickly develop a headache, start mumbling your words, soil yourself and your head will subsequently explode. This is what using the touch and type features on the Torch is like.

You can keep the slider down and touch like a Storm or an iPhone, and in all fairness for balance and objectivity which this article fails miserably in, the touch screen isn't all that bad. I'd personally put it as better than Android, but nowhere near in the same league as the iPhone or iPod touch.

But when the screen slides up and the keyboard emerges, you are wedged into a paradox time vortex where mixing touch and typing becomes an allegory for a rectal craniotomy.

Menu madness, Exchange support and battery life »

4. Menu madness

Existing BlackBerry users know full well that to access the full menu, you push the BlackBerry key. On an OS 6 device like the Torch, it essentially wants you to do it again for no good reason; all in the name of adding 'favourite' and 'recently used' sub-menus which slide out on screen behind the menu.

But for users set in their ways will just want to access their full screen menu without the extra pushing of buttons. Why they changed this is anybody's guess.

5. Massively underpowered

Jason Hiner hits the nail on the head. The Torch is massively underpowered and is clear as day to anyone who uses it that the sluggishness and slow responsiveness of the operating system can be likened to the speed of a crushed snail. The 624 MHz CPU chip does not do it justice; with many other phones in the same bracket having higher processing functions, Hiner states.

6. Still no Exchange support; not for businesses

There is still no Exchange support. Nokias can do it, and you can sync up using the desktop software, but there is no in-built over-the-air function to synchronise your calendar, tasks and push email. Instead, for those using Exchange-supported email and calendars, including both Google Apps and Microsoft Live@edu services for students, have to resort to IMAP protocols to send and receive email only, or pay through the nose for NotifySync to support Exchange.

7. Battery life is beyond awful

The only way you can get more than a full day of battery life out of the Torch, is if you either live in Narnia where Torch batteries grow on trees, or if you live in a nuclear centrifuge which somehow recharges your battery using magical airwaves in your own little 'imagination-land'. 'Nuff said.

8. No screen-orientation lock

The screen acts like Jason Bourne on Ritalin, to quote the infamous Malcolm Tucker. Unlike the iPhone, the BlackBerry Torch doesn't have an orientation lock, meaning when you are sitting or lying in generally considered comfortable positions away from the desk - on a bench, on a beach, in bed or after using this phone for a week, on train tracks, the screen jumps from one orientation to another.

For I and many other students like working in bed, this makes using the Torch, combined with the gravity defying weight of the device, makes it impossible to work with.

9. Lack of Storm-Torch application compatibility

Considering the similarity of the Storm to the Torch - both with a similar interface, hardware, touch-screen and screen resolution, yet many applications for the Storm are not yet compatible for the Torch. Of course, the disparity in operating system between OS 5 for the Storm and OS 6 for the Torch mean those upgrading may be in for a shock.

10. It isn't an iPhone, or a real BlackBerry

It just isn't. Oh - and I appear to have reached the end of my argument on this one.

The most frustrating element to the Torch is that on paper it is designed for the student and the younger multimedia-loving consumer. It's the BlackBerry that never was; far from the business and enterprise minded person to the fun loving kid on the block, but it failed and flopped in my hands.

Have you tried the Torch? Are you considering getting one? What do you think?

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Hardware

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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