NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I will get to the bottom line right away: the Torch 9810 is the best RIM ( RIM) BlackBerry available on AT&T ( T) today, and it is highly recommended. Here is the only caveat: AT&T is the only major carrier not offering the Bold 9900 model (which in turn is substantially identical to the 9930, so I will use the 9900 and 9930 interchangeably in this review), but is expected to start doing so in November.This review should be read in conjunction with my very long and detailed
Thickness and weight: The 9810 is thicker and heavier than the 9900. This is clearly in the 9900's favor at some level, but again this also has implications for the overall design of the device and how it's optimized for big hands (9900) versus small hands (9810). Again, the 9810 feels better in the hand than the 9900, even though it's thicker and heavier. There is one more critical thing to consider: Choice of protective cases. Based on the fact that the Torch 9810 is a portrait slider, as compared to the mono-block Bold 9900, any case on the Torch 9810 isn't going to be as good as on the Bold 9900. This a huge consideration. A case on the Torch 9810 is going to be bulkier and more complicated than on the Bold 9900. To exemplify this, I tested the Otterbox Commuter series case on the Torch 9810, and the part that protects the screen easily falls off. In addition, the device becomes a lot thicker/wider and feels slippery. The bottom line is that if you use the Otterbox Impact series case on the 9900, it will feel a lot better than using the Torch 9810 with any case. Another way of saying this, is that if you use them without a case, the 9810 feels better in the hand than the 9900, but if you use the Otterbox Impact series case with the 9900, the 9900 will feel better in the hand than the 9810 with any case I've tried. So which network is best? I have used the new BlackBerry devices on all the four major U.S. networks -- AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Sprint ( S) and Verizon ( VZ). My verdict is that the GSM/HSPA carriers are the best for today's BlackBerry devices. AT&T and T-Mobile USA are better for three reasons that I can observe: 1. Data speeds seem faster. HSPA+ at 14 meg seem to beat EVDO at significantly less than 14 meg, perhaps as little as 3.6 meg. 2. Simultaneous voice and data. This is very important. When I'm on a call, I still want to be able to use Internet apps, receive and send emails, etc.
3. Conference calls seem to work more reliably when you connect and disconnect participants on GSM rather than CDMA. For these reasons, I would get the BlackBerry 9810 or 9900 on AT&T or T-Mobile USA, as opposed to Sprint or Verizon. All of this will change some time in 2012 when the first LTE BlackBerry devices arrive, and this would at a minimum likely make Verizon a lot more competitive with AT&T and also T-Mobile USA. Sprint will also be launching LTE at some point, although we have an even poorer idea of when BlackBerry will support Sprint's particular implementation of LTE. So now to the final question: 9810 or 9900? It's a relatively close call, because they are both excellent. I prefer the 9810's screen because it's slightly bigger, and how it feels in the hand when you're not using the case, but since one is supposed to use a case all the time, the 9900 wins even here. The deciding factors are therefore: NFC and the fact that you can get the 9900 with the superior case -- such as the Otterbox Impact series, which costs only $20 and has the best rubber feel of any case I've tried to date. Bottom line: I highly recommend the BlackBerry Torch 9810 on AT&T today, but if I could, I would wait a month and get the Bold 9900 when it is allegedly becoming available on AT&T. In the meantime, you can also consider getting the Bold 9900 on T-Mobile USA, where it has been available now for well over a month, just as it has on both Sprint and Verizon. At the time of submitting this article, the author was long AAPL, RIMM, QCOM and GOOG.