BlackBerry Bold 9790 Review

By on June 4, 2012
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An excellent backup BlackBerry.

Good: Excellent size and great battery life
Bad: Screen too small for touch, no HD video recording
Price: AED 1599
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

I really like my BlackBerry and still consider it the best messaging device. But lets face it- it just does not have the appeal than an iPhone or even an Android device does when it comes to the UI and Apps. For example, I use Skype, Flipboard and Instagram on a daily basis- none of which are available on a BlackBerry. Also, most new games and apps generally make their initial appearance on iOS or Android before they are thought of for any other platform. Thus, I have become a two phone person of late and one of my devices is always a BlackBerry.

Now when it comes to managing more devices, I find smaller to be better. And the BlackBerry Bold 9790 that I am looking at today offers a pretty impressive set of features in a size that is just 110 x 60 x 11.4 mm small and weighs a paltry 107g. Packaged with the usual assortment of accessories such as the charger and headset, the Bold 9790 is a true replacement for the Bold 9780 from last year and sits besides the Bold 9900 as it’s younger sibling.

Build Quality & Design

Build quality on the Bold 9790 is about the same as the 9780 which is not a bad thing. I’ve dropped the phone quite a few times already and it has survived the fall with good grace. RIM does not deviate much when it comes to styling their devices and someone used to the Bold 9780 will feel right at home with the 9790.

There are a few subtle changes- some for the good and some not necessarily so. What I like is how RIM has extended the keyboard edge-to-edge giving more space to the keyboard. This works well and the 9790’s keyboard is pretty much the second best keyboard I have used on a mobile device- the Bold 9900 holds that crown.

The four keys below the screen are now raised buttons instead of being flushed against the body of the device- very much like the Torch 9860. While this makes it a bit easier to find the four buttons using your thumb, it just does not look that great and feels like a step back in design.

The volume keys are located on the right along with the convenience and mute keys and are pretty much the same as most other modern BlackBerry devices while the USB connecter has been moved to the bottom of the device which is a much better position for it. Lastly, the lock button is on the top center and works well while the 3.5mm jack sits on the left side towards the top- again a convenient location.

Specs and Comparison

The following table compares some of the key specs of the BlackBerry Bold 9790 to the Bold 9900

BlackBerry Bold 9790 BlackBerry Bold 9900
Price AED 1,599 AED 1,799
Size 110 x 60 x 11.4 mm 115 x 66 x 10.5 mm
Weight 107g 130g
CPU Marvel Tavor MG1 1 GHz Qualcomm QC 8655 1.2GHz
Storage 8GB 8GB
Screen Size 2.45″ 2.8″
Resolution 480 x 360 pixels (245ppi) 640 x 480 pixels (286 ppi)
Camera 5MP AutoFocus + VGA Video 5MP Fixed Focus + 720p Video
3G Connectivity HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps HSDPA 14.4Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n ; BlueTooth 2.1 Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n ; BlueTooth 2.1
Battery Li-Ion 1230 mAh Li-Ion 1230 mAh


As you can see from the specs above, the Bold 9790 competes reasonably well with the Bold 9900. The amount of RAM is same but the CPU is a tad bit slower at 1.0GHz vs 1.2GHz. You won’t really feel much difference between the speeds of the 9900 and 9790 most of the time but there were times when the Bold 9790 felt a bit sluggish- most notable when installing or upgrading apps.

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Obviously the biggest difference between the Bold 9790 and the Bold 9900 is the screen-size. The 2.45″ screen on the 9790 feels considerably smaller if you are used to the Bold 9900 but thats the price you pay for a smaller form factor. The screen resolution is also lower meaning you get lesser information displayed on the screen, however, with the smaller screen size that is not much of an issue. What does come across forced is the touch screen- on such a small screen the touch capabilities feel restricted to scrolling or tapping on an icon. Also if you have larger digits, you end up blocking a good portion of the screen.


The camera on the Bold 9790 takes shots at 5MP which is the same the Bold 9900,however, it is a different camera that offers auto-focus capabilities which means that unlike the Bold 9900 and its full-focus camera, you are able to take clear macro shots with the 9790. That being said the quality of the camera shots on the 9790 is not as good as the shots from 9900. The following is a sample shot from the 9790 during daylight and indoors.

Where the camera on the 9790 falls flat is during low light where pictures appear very grainy. Video quality is also sub-par with no option for recording hi-def videos- all it offers is VGA recording.

Battery Life

The BlackBerry Bold 9790 has the same battery as the Bold 9900 which means that with a slower processor and a smaller screen, you should get better battery life out of the device. That works out quite well for the Bold 9790 which reminds you of the older handsets by RIM that were famous for the battery life. Using it moderately, I could easily get two full days on the Bold 9790 and by moderate I mean push email enabled, some BBMing, some camera and some music. Most devices have a hard time staying up till the end of the day with my moderate usage so the 9790 is sure to delight you with it’s battery performance.


Overall, the BlackBerry Bold 9790 is a great secondary phone. If you want to carry just one device and if that has to be a BlackBerry then I would recommend the Bold 9900 which continues to be the best phone RIM has ever made. However, if you’re switching to a two phone solution then I doubt you’ll find a backup device as good as the Bold 9790


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

  • Magnus Nystedt

    It looks pretty nice, but let’s hope the people at RIM have seen this
    “RiM has gone from having north of 30% of the [US] smartphone market two years ago, to 23% a year ago, to 4% today.”

    • t-break media

      From what I’ve seen, BB10 looks pretty impressive. While RIM has lost the momentum in the US, keep in mind that they’re still growing at a phenomenal rate in other parts of the world. 

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