(Pocket-lint) - BlackBerry OS 7 has finally arrived, and with it a raft of pretty looking phones to boast all of the modern joys. “Yippee,” most cry but is that, or should that indeed, be the call of all? Should people who’ve not long invested in the original BlackBerry Torch, the 9800, be cursing their luck that they didn’t wait a little longer? Should those hard of pocket be considering heading for the cheaper option? And just what is the difference between the 9810 and the 9800 anyway, apart from the number 10?

Well, fear not. As ever, we at good-old Pocket-lint have lined these two touchscreen, full QWERTY slider phones up against each other just to make sure we know what makes them both tick. So, here is the BlackBerry 9800 vs BlackBerry 9810 - Torch on Torch.

Form Factor

1st= Torch 9800
11 x 62 x 14.6mm, 161g

1st= Torch 9810
11 x 62 x 14.6mm, 161g

There’s a very clear message from the off with the arrival of the new and improved BlackBerry Torch 8910: it’s not the aesthetics that RIM was looking to improve upon. The headlining slider phone system is exactly what’s been stuck with, down to the millimetre and gram. Hold it in your clutch or your pocket and these could be exactly the same phones. In fact, the only difference currently is that you can get the older model in red whereas the 9810 is stuck with black and silver.


1st: Torch 9810
3.2-inch, 640x480px, 250ppi

2nd: Torch 9800
3.2-inch, 480x360px, 187.5ppi

In a world of Retina and Reality, it’s a good thing to see that RIM has upped its game with the display on the Torch 8910. A 640x480px screen might not sound that great but, when you remember that we’re talking about a smaller area, the jump in pixel density and, therefore, clarity of the image is well worth shouting about. It’s the kind of difference that really makes watching videos on a non-candybar style smartphone screen worth while. Throw into the mix that the BB OS 7 software vastly improves the touch performance and you’ve got a real winner here.

Engine Room

1st: Torch 9810
1.2GHz CPU, 768MB RAM

2nd: Torch 9800
624MHz CPU, 512MB RAM

The BlackBerry smartphones have been far from the market leaders in terms of raw engine power over the last few years. In fact, next to the Samsungs and HTCs, they’ve looked a little weedy. So, fortunately, another of the key improvements on the Torch has been the doubling of the clock speed on the CPU and a 50 per cent hike in memory power. Both of which should make the general performance on the 9810 a whole lot zippier than its predecessor. There’s not an awful lot known about the graphics specs, but you can bet your multi-processor cores that there’s been significant improvements there too. Another big category for the new Torch.


1st: Torch 9810
8GB + 32GB microSD

2nd: Torch 9800
4GB + 32GB microSD

We’re not going to tell you that 4GB of extra space out of a possible 36GB currently available on the 9800 is a whole hill of beans, but there are two things to consider here. First, any bonus storage is always welcome and, second, do you currently have a 32GB SD card in your smartphone or have you just stuck with the 4GB model that came free in the box? Thought so. So, actually, the added extra is worth considering. On the other hand, instead of buying yourself a whole new phone, you could just upgrade your removable storage instead. Around £38 these days.


1st: Torch 9810
5MP, LED flash, 720p video

2nd: Torch 9800
5MP, LED flash, 480p video

A 5-megapixel camera is a solid standard for smartphones in this day and age with 8MP available for those who wish to be flashy. Even the older 9800 Torch came equipped with what was necessary in this department, but where RIM undersold the device was on the video front. Thankfully the 9810 addresses this with HD recording functionality - if only as far as 720p - along with the ever-present LED flash, continuous auto-focus and image stabilisation all found in the 9800 too.

But that's not all. Look into the fine print and you'll also notice that the geo-tagging not present on the 9800 has, quite rightly, arrived on the Torch 9810. A very nice addition indeed.

The only real lack of foresight is that the company has neglected to include a front-facing camera, but then that’s probably because there are no video conferencing apps for BlackBerry at the moment. Shame. At least there’s the improvement of the digital zoom from 2x to 4x. What? No hurrah?

Battery Life

1st: Torch 9810
6.5hrs talk, 12.8 days stdby, 7 hrs video, 54 hrs audio

2nd: Torch 9800
5.5hrs talk, 14 days stdby, 6 hrs video, 30 hrs audio

Both models of the Torch come fitted with the same 1270mAh battery. That much we know, but, mostly likely down to the radio and the software, the 9810 seems to be a little more power efficient. That or RIM has stretched the truth a little on the quoted single charge life times. So, unless standby time is of vital importance to you, it’s the new Torch for an hour extra talk and video, as well as an impressive nigh-on doubling of the music listening possibilities. By no means an essential upgrade but certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp SIM card.


1st: Torch 9810
Magnetometer, Accelerometer, Proximity, Light

2nd: Torch 9800
Accelerometer, Proximity, Light

Perhaps not one to run to the hills screaming about, but RIM has added a magnetometer sensor to the Torch 9810. What does this mean? Well, not a lot. You’ll be able to get a compass app to tell you which direction you’re facing at any one time. If any wouldbe developers would care to write in and tells us what other genius applications there are to look forward to, courtesy of the magnetometer, in the next 18 months, then we’d love to be impressed. For now those with a 9800 have no need to sweat it.


1st: Torch 9810
BlackBerry OS 7

2nd: Torch 9800
BlackBerry OS 6.1

With the launch of the Torch 9810 and friends, comes the arrival of the new and vastly improved BlackBerry OS 7 mobile phone software and, surely, one of the biggest reasons of all to be looking to upgrade. Not available on any earlier released devices, such as the 9800, BB7 brings plenty to the party with the highlights including the fastest browser on the planet at the moment, a voice-activated universal search, BBM integrated throughout the device, Augmented Reality hardwired in via the Wikitude World Browser and, of course, an entirely fancier look to the GUI. Or you can have BB OS 6 which is, well, older and less good. Your call.


1st: Torch 9810
4G, BT, Wi-Fi, NFC, USB

2nd: Torch 9800
3G, BT, Wi-Fi, USB

Yes, the BlackBerry Torch 9810 is a 4G-capable handset and, yes, thanks to BB OS 7, it’s up for all sorts of NFC tricks too but we wouldn’t advise you to get too sucked into all of that if you live in the UK. There’s no 4G in Blighty and there’s precious little in the way of NFC infrastructure either. So, if you’re dreaming of the new Torch for faster browsing and contactless payments then you might want to move to another country as part of the package. If you’re planning on holding onto a 9810 for the next 4 years, then this is a category not to ignore, but you’re probably not and this probably isn’t.


1st: BB Torch 9810

2nd: BB Torch 9800

If you really expected the older BlackBerry Torch 9800 to come out on top, then you need to have a word with yourself. Of course, the 9810 is a better, more up to date handset. RIM is not a bunch of thickies whatever the over-starched shirts, pleated trousers and boating shoes combos might lead you to believe. What you really need to know is how much better is the new model? Is it worth either saving your pennies on the 9800 or upgrading from said previous handset? Well, the answer seems to be "much", "no" and "yes" in that order.

There’s some really key improvements here in some very important places. Someone has clearly done their homework because HD video recording, a faster experience, better software and a punchier display are just the kind of headline bumps that consumers are waiting for. There’s been no pricing announcements as yet but, frankly, whatever the difference is, pay it.

Love your BlackBerry? Take a look at our PlayBook review

Writing by Dan Sung.