Porsche Design BlackBerry P’9981 Smartphone Review

By on January 25, 2012
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The most expensive BlackBerry ever.

Good: Brilliant construction quality, feels great in your hands, uber premium
Bad: $2000 price tag, essentially the BlackBerry Bold 9900.
Price: AED 7,000
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

It’s no surprise that geeks like me are not necessarily big on fashion. When I don’t have to attend events or meetings, I much prefer being in my jeans and a Polo. However, every once in a while (mainly during shopping festivals with super discounted prices), I’d step into Bloomingdales or Harvey Nichols and treat myself to a couple of nice shirts or even a blazer ( if they’re still called that). Now here’s the thing- different people have different opinions on my purchases. What one person absolutely loves, gets laughed at by another. In the world of fashion, there is no science and there are no analytical benchmarks to prove one thing is better than the other. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

The intro above might seem a bit strange on a tech website but serves a purpose- it’s required reading for the Porsche Design BlackBerry P9981 that I am reviewing today. Ever since it was officially unveiled, I have read countless opinions on how sexy or how ugly the P9981 is. I too, considered the device unattractive when pictures of it were leaked on the web a few months back. But then I held it at it’s launch event in Dubai and suddenly, my opinion started changing. And after playing with it for a few days, my beloved Bold 9900 suddenly feels cheap.

Packaged in a nice box that is almost the size of something you get when buying shoes, the P9981 prepares you with what it has to offer right from the magnetic latch of the packaging. The top layer has the phone and the charging dock nicely cuddled up while going a layer deep reveals the Porsche branded battery (same capacity as the Bold 9900), your membership card and some manuals. Going deeper to the last layer unveils the premium headset, USB cable and four charging plugs serving different parts of the world. Interestingly, no holster is included in the package which tells you that this is not a device that you want to keep hidden inside anything. You can watch our unboxing video here.

The Porsche Design P9981 is essentially the BlackBerry Bold 9900 but in a chassis designed by the company that is associated with being über cool. Gone is the plasticy back and the brushed aluminum looking antenna band, replaced by real premium leather back cover and a shiny stainless steel band. Even the individual keys on the P9981’s keyboard are made of metal instead of plastic. Although it might not look very comfortable, the keyboard on the P’9981 is very easy to type on- not as good as the Bold 9900 but still pretty good. Above the keyboard, you have the four traditional BlackBerry keys and the trackpad- all of which are taller in size and easier to press. The hard metallic edges along with the leather back give the P9981 a feel that is like no other Smartphone. You know you’re carrying something that is premium.

This new enclosure is slightly bigger in size compared to the Bold 9900 but not much has changed as far as layout and positioning of buttons and connectors is concerned. The MicroSD slot has been moved a bit higher making it easier to manage your memory card and you no longer need to remove the battery to access it either. Other than that, all the other buttons and connectors are pretty much in the same spot as the Bold 9900. One change I would have liked to see is the notification LED moved a bit higher so that it sits between the top and front sides of the device- or possibly around the navigation pad.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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