The BlackBerry Bold 9700 overall offers solid performance in every area I’ve looked. The hardware and software combination work well together, and I haven’t experienced any major glitches.
T-Mobile users will be happy to know that the Bold2 has better wireless access than their current BlackBerry, thanks to the 3G coverage. Though the coverage is increased, it’s still not on par with AT&T or Verizon in my test area.
This issue is somewhat overcome by being able to call over Wi-Fi (T-Mobile only). Wi-Fi calling is not always flawless; if your signal is weak there is noticeable quality degradation. On more than one occasion, my call was dropped when switching from Wi-Fi to cell tower.
Though the coverage isn’t always stellar, the call quality is consistently good. Calls are loud, and the sound is well balanced.
When using the speakerphone at the loudest volume, calls were tinny as compared to the Bold. This was a problem I noticed on the Storm2 as well; hopefully it isn’t indicative of things to come from RIM!
When making calls using the 3G signal on the Bold, the device can get uncomfortably hot. This problem seems to have been addressed in the new offering.
Like is its predecessor, the 9700 offers visual voicemail, another feature that will likely become standard on all ‘Berries in time.
This BlackBerry sports the newest 5.0 operating system, and there are some notable improvements over the previous generation. Menus are easier to navigate and better looking. RIM borrows from the iPhone OS in areas such as time/date selection, which are now offered as a rolling wheel. My favorite feature of the 5.0 is the ability to more easily customize ringing profile settings. There are some features that were previously unoffered as well, such as the ability to set vibration to short, medium, or long sessions.
Another major improvement over previous versions is the ability to wirelessly sync contacts with Google accounts. The option to auto-sync is given after setting up an eligible email account, and it’s a great way to consolidate your address books.
The smaller screen size is noticeable when browsing, and not in a good way. If no mobile version is available, pages that load are more zoomed out than the Bold, and from there you have to zoom in to the section you want. This process is manageable, but can easily be frustrating if you plan on doing a lot of browsing.
Messaging & Productivity
This is a BlackBerry, so of course messaging is quick and reliable, and RIM packs in plenty of options including threaded text messaging, email, and instant messaging options including BlackBerry Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo.
The 9700 also offers the DataViz Documents To Go Office Suite that allows you to view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, and even send as attachments.
Media & Camera
The Bold2 can play basic media: audio files, movie files, etc. There is a standard headphone jack on the side. Due to the smaller form factor your headphones will not plug completely into the slot — some of the stem will be exposed). It doesn’t affect the audio but it does bother me.
This phone ships with the same ugly headphone/mic combination as other BlackBerrys. This is unfortunate because the headphones that came with the original Bold are far superior in comparison.
This BlackBerry comes with 256 MB of internal memory, and it has an microSD slot. It is bundle with a 2 GB card and is expandable up to 32 GB, giving you plenty of room for MP3s and video. The slot is accessible by removing the battery cover (but not the battery). It was located on the side of the Bold 9000, but given that most users don’t switch cards very often it won’t be a big annoyance.
The camera is vastly improved. It boasts 3.2 megapixels, auto-focus, flash, and video recording. The downside the camera is that you can only auto-focus by using the right convenience key. I’ve had experiences of these keys failing over time. If that were to happen here the user would be unable to take advantage of this great feature.
The Bold 9700 uses the same huge battery as the Bold, but it seems to last a little longer, I’ve been getting as much as two days, depending on use.