Most experts agree that the BlackBerry Torch 9850 is mediocre at best. Even MobileTechReview.com's Lisa Gade, who writes a mostly positive review on it, says it has a slim chance of converting any Android or iPhone users. But if BlackBerry has any chance at all against competitors, it's the Torch 9850, CNET's Jessica Dolcourt says. While Gade pronounces the 9850 to be the most beautiful BlackBerry, other reviewers say it's cheapened by the shiny metal band and two-tone coloring. Engadget.com's Tim Stevens says the 3.7-inch WVGA display (the largest among all BlackBerrys) is the phone's "strongest-selling point," and most critics agree that it's crisp and bright.
Dolcourt complains of sluggishness and the lack of a dual-core processor, but Jacob Schulman of TheVerge.com says the quality touch screen and 1.2 GHz Snapdragon combine to do "wonders in terms of performance." BlackBerry OS 7 is met with lukewarm reviews, and the paucity of third-party apps is roundly criticized. (IntoMobile.com's Simon Sage recommends holding out for new devices to be released next year, with the BlackBerry Playbook tablet's superior OS.) The other common point of disapproval is the 9850's small virtual keyboard. Schulman also complains about the awkward positioning of the optical trackpad, causing accidental input commands. Stevens believes the browser is the most notable feature of the new OS, as it loads pages quickly. It doesn't have Flash support, but it can play HTML5 videos.
When it comes to the Internet connection itself, PCMag.com's Sascha Segan warns that Sprint's 3G network is the slowest nationwide, according to their tests. The phone has WiFi connectivity, but no hotspot capability. Segan believes it's a great phone for travelers, however, because BlackBerry devices use less data than competitors. Its music player is basic, and Intomobile.com's Sage believes the 9850 is better suited for watching videos. Photo quality from the 5-megapixel camera gets mediocre to good reviews. But experts mostly complain about the lack of a front-facing camera. Reviews of the phone's call quality are mixed, with Dolcourt reporting instances of clipping and low volume. Battery life also gets mixed feedback with some experts barely making it through the day on a single charge, while others praise it for its long standby life.
CNET's review of the BlackBerry Torch 9850 explores the device's numerous features, though it links to CNET's review of the BlackBerry Torch 9810 for more details about OS 7. TheVerge.com's Schulman and Intomobile.com's Sage aren't shy with their opinions, criticizing the phone where they see fit. PCMag.com's review draws heavily from its review of U.S. Cellular's version of 9850, elaborating on Sprint-specific features. Engadget's review is media-rich with images and videos, while MobileTechReview.com's evaluation is the most positive.
Jessica Dolcourt lodges several complaints against the 9850 including lags in performance -- though she says it's a top BlackBerry device. While the virtual keyboard is bad, she says, the phone has a very good auto-correct function that makes typing messages a lot easier.
Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850 (Sprint), Jessica Dolcourt, Aug. 16, 2011
Jacob Schulman thinks that the 9850's shiny metal band, which wraps around its back, cheapens the phone's appearance. Although he says he wouldn't recommend the phone and gives it a rating of 5.5 out of 10, he still praises its touch screen and Snapdragon processor.
Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850 Review, Jacob Schulman, Aug. 19, 2011
Sascha Segan wouldn't recommend the 9850, even to people who are already Sprint subscribers. He considers Sprint's BlackBerry Bold 9930 a better option. He gives the phone 2.5 out of 5 stars, and ranks the U.S. Cellular version a tad higher due to its 4G connectivity.
Review: RIM BlackBerry Torch 9850 (Sprint), Sascha Segan , Sept. 6, 2011
The two-tone color of the BlackBerry Torch 9850 makes it look cheap, Simon Sage says. But more than anything, he complains about the lack of third-party applications. He also questions the viability of getting the device when RIM will be releasing devices with an upgraded OS next year, and developers won't likely waste time creating apps for BlackBerry 7.
Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850 / 9860 Review: What Comes After a Storm?, Simon Sage, Aug. 25, 2011
The 9850 is an underwhelming "homely looking phone," Tim Stevens says, adding that it falls short of the other BlackBerry devices released on the same day. Ultimately, he believes the new BlackBerry software doesn't do the smartphones any justice as it's just a "minor upgrade from BB6," and cannot compare to the fluidity of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet's operating system.
Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850 Review, Tim Stevens, Aug. 16, 2011
Unlike most other reviewers, Lisa Gade thinks the Torch 9850 is the best-looking BlackBerry out there, and that it approaches the "apex of European design." She doesn't think the BlackBerry OS 7 is revolutionary, or that the phone can convert iPhone and Android users, but she believes BlackBerry's existing user base would love the device.
Review: BlackBerry Torch 9850, Lisa Gade, Sept. 2, 2011