UPDATE: This "first impressions" review was written after a brief time with this smartphone. A more complete version based on extensive testing is available here:
The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is part of RIM's five-device rollout that's being carried out for the next few months, and it is one of the first handsets to run the new BlackBerry OS 7.
I've gotten to spend some time with Verizon's version for the past couple of days and while it isn't a bad piece of hardware, I can't help but feel like there isn't a whole lot that's new here, especially when talking about the so-called "new" operating system.
BUILD AND DESIGN
This is probably where the Bold 9930 shows the most change and shines the most. The thinnest BlackBerry model ever to be released, the handset features an exceptionally thin profile with a stylish brushed-steel frame. It looks and feels sleek, it's light, and it fits comfortably in my pocket. It even has a nice rubberized finish around the back edge of the phone, giving users something to hold onto instead of the slick plastic of the rear panel.
The touchscreen looks great, as it is bright and crisp with vivid colors, but part of what makes it so sharp is the fact that it's a decent resolution packed into such a small amount of real estate. At 2.8 inches with a 287 dpi resolution, of course it looks great, I just wish it was bigger so I would have a little more to work with; using touchscreen controls on such a small display doesn't always work out well when your thumb takes up half the screen. Thankfully the trackpad is still present and responsive as ever, stepping in to take over when the touchscreen just won't cut it.
And, as usual for a BlackBerry, the Bold 9930 has a great keyboard. With the slightly curved and angled keys to minimize accidental or incorrect presses and good responsiveness, I found it very comfortable to use. It made me realize how much I miss physical keyboards, especially when they're done right like this.
The BlackBerry Bold 9930 features a QC 8655 1.2 GHz processor and 8 GB of storage (expandable up to 32 GB via microSD). In terms of speed, it functions relatively smoothly, but the new browser found in BlackBerry OS 7 -- which is supposed to show a substantial increase in speed -- still does not impress. On the one hand, it does load pages much faster when compared to previous BlackBerry models (such as my editor's Bold 9650), but in the grand scheme of things, it's still very slow and often leaves out assets even when the page is supposedly fully loaded.
The camera is serviceable, with an 5-megapixel resolution for stills and 720p video recording. It features a flash and a 4x digital zoom, along with a handful of different scene modes, face detection, image stabilization, and, probably my favorite, geo-tagging.
The 1230 mAh battery seems fine so far, as I'm still on the same charge after two days with moderate usage, which has included web browsing, emailing, messaging, taking photos, and retrieving directions.
For the most part, the BlackBerry Bold 9930 seems to be just that: another BlackBerry. There are minor tweaks here and there thanks to the new BlackBerry OS 7 -- and admittedly, most of them are for the better -- but it's not a major overhaul or anything; it's quite apparent that this OS isn't meant to do much more than fill the gap between OS 6 and the upcoming QNX-based version.
But because the Bold 9930 is just another BlackBerry, it upholds many of the strengths found in previous models, and that includes an excellent keyboard and streamlined email and messaging. For my final verdict and a more complete collection of my thoughts on the Bold 9930, be sure to check out the full review, which should be up in the coming days.
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