The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a solid performer in almost every category. As a messaging-centric device its web browsing capabilities are weak, but for most uses the 9650 is a smooth operator.
The Bold 9650 boasts 802.11b/g, GPS, Bluetooth with profiles for streaming music, and support for UMTS/HSPA, CDMA/EV-DO and GSM based networks. In layman’s terms, this means that this smartphone is one of the few offered by Sprint and Verizon that can be used outside of the United States.
The addition of Wi-Fi is a welcome improvement over the Tour, and is probably the biggest reason to choose this model over its predecessor.
The streaming audio profiles work wonderfully; I was able to stream high-quality Pandora radio over my car’s audio system after initial pairing.
Call quality is spot-on with this version of theBold. From low to high volume the speaker supports a range of sound from deep to high. The speakerphone is sufficiently loud as well.
The strongest point of the BlackBerry is its messaging.Connections to Gmail accounts sync messages and contacts seamlessly. A message sent from a computer will show up as a sent message on the device, which creates an incredibly useful completely current email record at all times.
SMS conversations are bubbled to seem like instant messenger chats, and instant messaging clients (AIM, GTalk, Y-Messenger, ICQ, MSN)all integrate well into the BlackBerry message indication system.
A neat feature I recently discovered in the newest version of the BlackBerry OS is the ability to port SMS contacts into the BlackBerry Messenger interface. This feature combined with the ability to placeBlackBerry Messenger contact icons on the home screen mean that users can place messaging icons for any of their contacts on the home screen for even quicker access. A job well done, RIM!
The entertainment options on the Bold 9650 come from the BlackBerry OS and from prepackaged Sprint apps. Offerings include the standard slew of games, (Brickbreaker, Word Mole, Texas Hold Em, Sudoku, Klondike) , Sprint apps for NASCAR mobile, Football, SprintTV, an upcoming Sprint Music Store, Pocket Express aggregator, and others. Social networking apps are also included.
The web browser is the same standard one on most BlackBerry OS 5.0 devices come with, with minor cosmetic changes.As I mentioned earlier, thisapp is one of the weakest features on the phone, and isn’t even in the same league as thebrowsers offered bytheiPhone or Android OS devices.
The productivity apps, like the entertainment apps, are standard issue. The most useful apps are the Documents To Go suite by DataViz, which let you work with Microsoft Office files on your smartphone.
Other useful tools include multiple calendar support, contact grouping and Sprint navigation.
The biggest productivity asset of this device however is the BlackBerry OS 5.0 interface, which is an improvement over previous versions.
The 3.2 megapixel camera on the Bold 9650features auto-focus, video recording and flash.
Using the camera has been made easier with this model. Previous auto-focus BlackBerrys required users to first focus and then completely press the key to capture an image. With the Bold the process has been simplified to a simple point and click – the device will focus itself.
With casual phone, messaging, and browsing use I observed just less than 18 hours of usable time from fully charge to battery-induced radio off. So you can probably expect to charge this device every night.