The new Bold 9700 is fast and furious. Just wish it was a bit bigger in size.
The original Blackberry Bold 9000 was RIM’s flagship device when it was released about a year back. Soon after, the Curve 8900 followed with a higher-res screen and double the onboard application RAM. And then came the Tour with multiple radios but that was never officially released in the UAE. However, even though other Blackberry Smartphones had technically surpassed the Bold 9000, it retained its status as THE Blackberry device. Its slightly larger size and bling factor commanded respect and that certainly helped attract attention to it.
Ironically, when I reviewed the Bold 9000, I found its size to be a too big for my linking. However, over the course of a year, I fell in love with its size- especially since it accommodated a larger sized keyboard that I still think is the best keyboard I’ve ever used on any Smartphone. With me today, I have the follow up to the original Bold- modeled as the Bold 9700 and we’re going to find out if this shiny new Smartphone can live up to the expectations set by it’s older sibling.
Like the original Bold, the 9700 is RIM’s flagship device at the moment. It features a 628MHz CPU with 256MB of application RAM, a 2.4″ screen with an HVGA+ 480×360 resolution, a 3.2 MegaPixel Camera, 3G/HSPA, Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 and GPS and the new trackpad that replaces the outgoing trackball. To top it, RIM adds a new 1500mAH capacity battery which should solve one of the complains with the Original Bold.
Although the specifications have received a much needed boost, RIM has cut the size of the Bold which is a bit of a shame. The larger sized Bold with its full leather back was instantly recognizable but unfortunately, the newer Bold 9700 can easily get lost between the Curve 8520 and the Tour. Its almost identical in size to the Curve but a bit more weighty. Also, instead of the full leather back, you now have a narrow strip running vertically through the center. The smaller size also effects the keyboard- I used the device for about a week and although the keyboard is comfortable, the smaller sized keys caused me to misspell words more often than I would have on the original Bold 9000.
Don’t get me wrong- the 9700 is still an extremely sexy and good looking device. Like most Blackberry Smartphones of late, it has the Lock and Mute hidden buttons on top, a covnenience key on each side, a mini USB connector and a 3.5mm headphone output jack on the left and volume keys on the right. Like the 8520 I reviewed some time back, the side keys appear as though they’re hidden inside the rim which certainly adds to the look without taking away any of the functionality.
The speed of using the Bold 9700 is insanely fast- I did not notice any lag switching between applications even when I had about a dozen of them running in the background. The screen is also excellent. Although its a bit smaller in size than the original Bold, its higher brightness and resolution make text and pictures looks incredibly sharp. I also think the trackpad is an excellent replacement to the trackball as I had mentioned in my 8520 review and is definitely the way going forward. Sound quality on the Bold 9700, at times, sounded a bit damp to me but others had no issue with it.
The 3.2 Megapixel camera on the Bold 9700 is pretty much the same as the one found on the Storm 9520 or the Curve 8900. Its good enough for a camera phone but never expect a camera phone to replace your SLR or even a good Point and Shoot. Outdoors and with daylight, you should get decent pictures however at night or in a darker environment, even with the flash, the photographs are not comparable to a dedicated good quality digital camera. Again, this is not something restricted to Blackberry but most Smartphones have this problem.
The Bold 9700 does not come with much storage RAM like the Storm but you have a MicroSD slot under the batter cover. This is also a step back from the original Bold as you have to remove the battery cover every time you want to access your memory card. For me, this was not an issue as I’m very much a plug and forget kind of guy but for those of you that keep changing their SD slots, this could become a bit tiresome.
RIM deserves a pat on the back on the battery life on the Bold 9700. While the original Bold could barely keep up for a full day if you used the device heavily- and this seems to be the norm with many Smartphones of today, the Bold 9700 has no problems giving you two work days very easily. During the weekend, I managed to go for three days without charging the device.
In summary, the Bold 9700 is the fastest Blackberry to date offering all the features you could expect out of a QWERTY Blackberry device. While it excels the original Bold in every technical aspect, its the design of the original Bold that has somewhat left a legacy behind it which the 9700 cannot match. You’ll love the 9700 if you’re moving from a Curve but for the original Bold 9000 users, it might take some getting used to. Priced at AED 2,600/- the Bold 9700 is now available at any Etisalat store.