The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is here, and I can say that I haven't been this excited for a BlackBerry since, well, the Bold 9000.
The new 9700 slims down the overall package size while maintaining the same great feature set, including Wi-Fi and 3G. Most importantly it sports a track pad rather than a trackball. This latest offering also boasts the 5.0 operating system. RIM hit its mark with the 9700, and it promises to impress.
T-Mobile users will be delighted with the Bold2 as their first 3G BlackBerry, and AT&T users will welcome it as a worthy successor to a proven device. Both these carriers are going to introduce this model later this month for $200 with two-year contract, and it's already available in Europe.
I've only had this device for a short time, so I'm just giving my first impressions now; a more complete review will be available in short order.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Bold 9700 is smaller than its predecessor in every way -- thinner, shorter, and not as wide, although they weigh about the same and use the same huge battery. The 9700 even feels a little smaller than the BlackBerry Tour. Despite its smaller size, it doesn't make too many concessions in terms of usability.
The HVGA display is still sharp, though not as big as its predecessor's. Its rich resolution somewhat compensates for its smaller screen size while browsing -- a topic I'll cover more in depth in the upcoming full review.
The display is stellar, but it seems less bright than the 9000. The 9000's screen is comfortably viewed in almost all lighting conditions at 10%, with the 9700 I've had to kick it up to 100% brightness.
Keyboard and Buttons
I loved the rubberized keys on the original Bold, and although they're slightly smaller on the 9700, they are still easy to use and accurate. I did notice that the keyboard seems to concave inward slightly near the center of the keypad.
A major improvement in this device is the more appropriately sized function keys: talk, menu, return, end.
One of the defining features of the Bold2 is its track pad. This one feels more comfortable and more responsive than that of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 that I recently reviewed.
The Bold 9700 adopts the now standard rocker key atop of the phone -- lock on one side, mute/standby on the other.
The styling has been reworked as well in the newest offering. Just a year ago the Bold impressed with its chrome accents and black finish. The 9700 pares down the glitz and is understated. The chrome convenience keys have been replaced with a rubberized black finish, the chrome is more subdued, and there is less of it. All welcome additions in my opinion.
The Bold 9700 offers the same touch of faux-leather on the back, but it covers only a small portion of the back cover; here I think the 9000 has the leg up.
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