BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review
Phone rating: ***
In a nutshell: The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is an upgraded version of the original Bold. It retains the full QWERTY keyboard of the original, but replaces the trackball with a new improved Trackpad, and is smaller and lighter too. It’s the perfect device for mobile e-mail, with a high-res screen with user-selectable fonts and the legendary BlackBerry email interface. Other highlights include 3G HSDPA, up to 16GB of memory, WiFi, GPS and outstanding battery life.
The Blackberry Bold 2 is just what BlackBerry fans were waiting for. It’s a straightforward upgrade of the BlackBerry Bold, and must surely be the best BlackBerry in the known universe.
The Bold was a fabulous device, having a brilliant keyboard, making it the perfect mobile e-mail solution. The Bold 2 retains the full 35-key QWERTY keyboard, but replaces the annoying old trackball with a new touch-sensitive Trackpad, as first seen on the BlackBerry 8520. It’s the perfect combination. The new Bold is also significantly smaller and lighter than the original Bold, and that’s a very welcome improvement too. At the same time, the Bold 9700 has an upgraded camera, more flash memory and improved battery life. Everything else stays pretty much the same.
Ergonomically, it doesn’t get much better than the Bold 9700. Yes, it’s large, not not as big as the original Bold, nor any bigger than a lot of touchscreen smartphones. We love the full QWERTY keyboard, which is in no way cramped, and we think that the touch-sensitive Trackpad is a definite improvement over the sticky trackball of old. Of course, the screen is smaller than a touchscreen phone, but at 2.44 inches across it’s fit for purpose and it’s a finely detailed TFT panel with 480 x 360 pixels. The Bold is nicely curved and feels like a quality piece of kit.
For emailing and texting, this is possibly the ultimate device. The UI is great, and all email standards and security protocols are supported, including BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise, personal email, enterprise email and web-based email (AOL Mail, Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail). You can view attachments in the following formats: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, WordPerfect, HTML, zip.) WordToGo and SlideshowToGo let you edit Word and PowerPoint files. Security is given full attention, with password protection and a keyboard lock, plus full support for encryption when using BlackBerry Enterprise Server to access data.
The voice features include a speakerphone and conference calling. With voice activated dialling and a Bluetooth headset, it’s capable of fully handsfree operation.
The Bold also supports multimedia applications. The camera has been upgraded to 3.2 megapixels, and comes with autofocus, image stabilisation, digital zoom and a flash. There’s a video camera too. The media player can play music and video, and there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, so you can plug in any third party stereo headphones. A-GPS navigation is also included, and works with Blackberry Maps.
We mentioned that the flash memory has been increased in the Bold 9700, giving 256 MB of memory for running apps. There’s 1GB of built-in storage and the Bold 9700 supports microSD cards up to 16GB. This seems to be perfectly adequate for the job.
Connectivity includes WiFi (802.11a/b/g), Bluetooth 2.0 and USB. It’s a 3G phone of course with quadband support for both UMTS (2100/1900/850/800 MHz) and GSM (1900/1800/900/850 MHz), with HSDPA providing fast internet connections with download speeds of up to 3.6 Mbps possible.
The 9700 has fantastic battery life, which is just what its target market wants to hear. The phone has a massive 1500mAh battery, which is pretty much as big as it gets in the mobile world. This provides a theoretical maximum of 21 days standby and up to 6 hours of talktime. It can also give a music playback time of up to 38 hours. These are impressive figures, and mean that you can use your Bold all day with confidence. For many users, the phone will probably last several days between charges.
The original Bold was a great all-round PDA, and the Bold 9700 is simply the icing on the cake. It’s highly recommended by us!
Features of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 include:
- 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash and video recording (480 x 352 pixels)
- LCD display: 480 x 360 pixels, 65,000 colours, 2.44 inches
- Media player (Supports MP3, WMA, MIDI, AMR-NB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, 3GP formats plus partial XviD support)
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging, push email with attachment viewer
- Built-in speakerphone
- Voice dialling
- Voice memo recorder
- MP3 ringtones / 32 voice polyphonic ringtones
- GPS with BlackBerry Maps
- Personal organiser functions
- Vibration alert
- Internet: Web browser, RSS feeds, GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA (3.6 Mbps)
- Connectivity: WLAN, Bluetooth 2.0, USB, RIM wireless modem, 3.5mm stereo headset port
- Memory: 1GB on-board + 256 MByte flash memory plus microSD memory card slot
- Size: 109 x 60 x 14 mm
- Weight: 122g
- Quadband GSM (1900/1800/900/850 MHz) plus UMTS (2100/1900/850/800 MHz)
- Talktime: 6 hours
- Battery standby: up to 504 hours