Yesterday, RIM announced the release of their newest Blackberry, the Blackberry Torch. The Torch is a touchscreen-slider phone, and is the first to run the new Blackberry 6 operating system. This is a RIM’s big push to reaffirm its position as a leader in the smartphone industry. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform have currently outpaced the once vaunted smartphone leader. While Blackberry continues to have a steady grip of the enterprise smartphone market, their consumer segment continues to lose ground due to the app market and media capabilities of its competitors. The Blackberry Torch is an exteremly important device for RIM, as it is their “moonshot” to regain footing in the consumer smartphone segment. I interviewed a few geeks who are current Blackberry users to get their take on the new Blackberry Torch.

Gamergeek: Blackberry Curve 8900 user

How do you like the design of the Blackberry Torch?
UGLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY just don’t do sliders anymore man… looks so damn unBlackberry

How does the phone compare to the iPhone and Android smartphones that you’ve seen?
Never liked android so my opinion would be biased on that part
BB vs iPhone:
Video call – iPhone wins
Funner apps – iphone wins
Internet connection (mine is t-mob) – iPhone wins
Social – BBM FTW! – BB wins
Keyboard – BB wins

The only reason I use BB is because of BBM, I would swap in a heartbeat when my contract expires

Are you impressed with the features of the new Blackberry 6 operating system compared to the old OS?
Meh! I’m currently an apple fanboy … until the next contract expiration date

Overall, are you impressed with the new OS and phone? Is anything missing, what would you like to see?
Again…Meh!

Would you buy the Torch when it is released?
No, im done with BB for now

Golfgeek: Blackberry Bold 9700 user

How do you like the design of the Blackberry Torch?
I really like the way it looks. It remains compact and pocket-friendly. I like that the keyboard is still available which is essential for Blackberry users who place a heavy emphasis on texting and e-mail. In addition, the touchscreen makes the phone more “modern” and hip. Very good looking phone. Also, the fact that it’s a slide-up phone rather than sliding the keyboard up from a landscape view (like the Motorola Droid or HTC Touch Pros) is a personal plus. Something about phones that you text from a landscape view seems so girly and posh to me.

How does the phone compare to the iPhone and Android smartphones that you’ve seen?
The phone still isn’t as “fun” as the iPhone or Android phones – largely due to Blackberry’s limited number of apps. Blackberry works just as well as a music player, however when it comes to watching videos, the smaller screen may not be appealing to the audience who are constantly streaming videos or watching any type of video files.

Are you impressed with the features of the new Blackberry 6 operating system compared to the old OS?
From the limited exposure that I have, just watching videos online, it does look like the operating system is taking a page from iPhone and Android as far as the menu layout. The browser seems to be more versatile and capable of viewing more web pages than the previous browser that Blackberry users have experienced. This is a great improvement, yet I’m not certain if they have enhanced the browser to the level that iPhone and Android offer – from experience, these two entities enable users to visit almost any website without any problems. I’m curious to find out…

Overall, are you impressed with the new OS and phone? Is anything missing, what would you like to see?
I’m not overly impressed by the operating system or phone because iPhone and Android phones made the impression first and exposed me to the features that modern phones are capable of. Nevertheless, the Blackberry Torch looks like a solid phone – appearance and performance wise. Aside from providing you with the greatest entertainment features, it appears to do everything a caller, texter, music-listener, or e-mailer can ask for. Yeah, something is missing…HD video recording!

Would you buy the Torch when it is released?
If I had money to easily spend, I would consider it. But at this moment, my answer is…no. The phone is not THAT revolutionary where it makes me want to spend $200 to upgrade from a perfectly working Bold 9700, or even more money in my case since I am not eligible for an upgrade. But if I were to switch phones, being an AT&T customer, I would try the iPhone 4 first – then if the touchscreen and battery life were bothersome as my first iPhone experience, I’d give the Torch a run.

Headgeek: Legacy Blackberry user

How do you like the design of the Blackberry Torch?
Not really innovative. Tried and done concept. I would love to try the slider function out in person. I have not seen “perfect” sliding mechanism in phones to date. Touch screen and keyboard in one design done before so nothing new. BB OS 6, I would love to try (not buy).

How does the phone compare to the iPhone and Android smartphones that you’ve seen?
I had BB7520 (Nextel PTT yes!), BB Pearl 8120, BB Curve 8320, BB 8830, BB Storm, BB Tour until I took a blind leap of faith with Droid X 2 weeks ago. I had BBs for 1 reason – simplicity. I took a huge leap of faith to Android for 1 reason – BB too simple. It took assistance from Jujitsu geek to get me become acquainted with Droid X but after 2 weeks with my gigantor, I wonder why I didn’t switch over sooner. There should be 3 categories of phones. 1. Standard cell phone 2. Blackberry Device 3. Smart Phones. BB does not come anywhere near Smart Phones.

Are you impressed with the features of the new Blackberry 6 operating system compared to the old OS?
Anything is better than old OS but lack of developers and market place to obtain software…. That’s gonna kill them.

Overall, are you impressed with the new OS and phone? Is anything missing, what would you like to see?
Pay people to make apps, thousands of apps.

Would you buy the Torch when it is released?
Most definitely NO.

Jujitsugeek: Blackberry Curve 8900 user

How do you like the design of the Blackberry Torch?
I think Blackberry has always been a company to turn out quality handset devices and they continue that trend with the Blackberry Torch. I actually do like the design of the phone, it looks like it has a solid build to it and the materials used seem to be of good quality. I do like their choice of a chrome bezel along with the textured back to give it some character and their keyboard has also been referred to as the best in the business. The phone being a slider is a subjective topic for me. I do find some slider phones appealing, the Samsung Epic 4G for example, but I believe we are now in a period where physical keyboards are becoming less of a deal breaker due to great digital keyboards such as Swype which have changed that way consumers text. I’d also like to add that the fact the phone slides up makes it seem a bit dated to me, reminds me too much of the Samsung Slider phone days.

How does the phone compare to the iPhone and Android smartphones that you’ve seen?
I think from a design perspective it might be on par if not better than some Android devices but to put it in the same category as the iPhone 4 is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. The phone doesn’t scream innovation by any means and the fact that it carries a laughable display when compared to the iPhone 4 Retina display or Samsungs Amoled doesn’t make it shine any better in my eyes. Furthermore, the lack of a comparable marketplace for apps is a huge negative for Blackberry as Android and Apple are now leaders in this key area of the mobile market. The question of how it compares to the iPhone 4 and Android smartphones is an easy one for me to answer, it simply doesn’t.

Are you impressed with the features of the new Blackberry 6 operating system compared to the old OS?
Compared to the old OS, Blackberry 6 is a huge improvement. It offers a seamless integration with various social networks which shows that Blackberry is at least trying to catch up with the time. However, many of the improvements in Blackberry 6 have already been done, if not better, by other OS. So am I impressed? No, I’m not. I’ve seen it all before. If anything, I feel bad that Blackberry is coming in so late in the game.

Overall, are you impressed with the new OS and phone? Is anything missing, what would you like to see?
The new OS and Phone are great for Blackberry loyalist. Those who refuse to switch to Android or Apple will be pleasantly surprised at what they get with the phone. For many of us who have switched or who plan to switch it all seems like old news. This is Blackberry’s last push to gain some market share in the industry and unfortunately it’s simply too little too late.

Would you buy the Torch when it is released?
I would not spend my money on the Torch. With phones like the iPhone 4 or Samsung’s Galaxy S line readily available, I find it extremely hard to invest my money in a device that will be extremely outdated from the day it’s released.