BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review

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Overview

  • Pros

    • Smaller form factor
    • Trackpad not a trackball
    • Better camera
    • 3G and Wi-Fi calling (T-Mobile)
  • Cons

    • Accessories not backward compatible,
    • Poor browsing experience
    • Speakerphone quality degrades at high volumes

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a 3G, Wi-Fi enabled smartphone offered in the U.S. by T-Mobile and soon AT&T. It has a beautiful HVGA screen, track pad, full QWERTY keyboard, 3.2 megapixel camera with auto-focus, and expandable microSD memory card slot.

The original Bold 9000 set the bar in terms of delivering a reliable, high performing device that sported the best feature set RIM had to offer. Just a year later, the Bold2 offers an enhanced feature set and an improved design that instantly leaves the original Bold feeling, well, old.

BUILD & DESIGN

The Bold2 may be the best looking BlackBerry yet. The most notable contrast with the first-generation Bold is its overall size. It’s thinner, shorter, and less wide than the Bold. It’s also less wide than the BlackBerry Tour, though not by much.

BlackBerry Bold 9700Its distinguishing features include subdued chrome accents around the bezel, a faux-leather backed battery compartment, black matte convenience keys on the sides, and of course, a track pad where users have become accustomed to seeing the iconic but sometimes finicky BlackBerry Ball.

Also changed in this version is the layout of the camera and flash on the back of the device — they’re now side by side rather than above one another. The Bold2 also has charging contacts on the side of the device that are discussed more below. The most practical change in styling is a redesign of the battery compartment which now feels more secure and in solid.

Screen
The screen is simply amazing. The iPhone’s screen was great, then the Bold took the same resolution and packed it into a smaller, richer screen. The Bold2 has done the same thing, but more so. Graphics are detailed, and smooth and pictures and web pages render sharply.

Of course, the screen itself is smaller than its predecessor, and is on par with a Curve 8900 or Tour so you’ll want to think twice if you’re primarily concerned with browsing. If this is your primary concern you might want to think twice.

The screen is bright enough, but does seem less bright than the Bold… though that device was almost too bright.

Track pad & Keyboard
To fit the smaller form factor the keyboard had to be scaled down, though not at the cost of usability. The keys maintain the rubbery, responsive feeling from the Bold, albeit smaller. If you are used to a BlackBerry Curve or even a Tour, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this keyboard. If you’re coming from a Bold, you’ll notice only a slight difference, and if you’re coming from a Storm you’ll be thankful (for more reasons than just the keyboard) that you made the switch.

The trackpad is a delight to use, and has almost no learning curve. I liked it on the Curve 8520, and I love it on the Bold2. It’s responsive, accurate, doesn’t stick, is less likely to be damaged. Moreover, it simply looks better than the ball. I did notice that BrickBreaker was a little more difficult with the pad, perhaps its biggest flaw. In the future the pad could be improved if it scrolled when the user rested his/her finger on the edge of the pad.

The 9700 sports two programmable convenience keys — one on each side — as well as volume rockers, and a top mute/lock rocker. I did notice that the volume keys were sometimes slow to respond, or required me to hit them more than once before they responded.

Accessories 
Like the Bold, RIM has built in charging contacts into the sides of the Bold2, intending it to be used in a charging cradle. Though useful, it is annoying that due to the different size, the latest model won’t charge in the original one’s cradle.

Like some of its contemporaries, and unlike the Bold, the Bold2 charges using a micro-USB port, so depending on what you’re trading up from, you may have to invest in some new accessories.


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