- Excellent, slimmed-down build
- Great keyboard
- Good email and communications
- Browser is improved but still painfully slow
- App selection is terrible
- Maps and user interface, are still clunky
The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is an excellent BlackBerry handset, but the new OS 7 fails to deliver enough changes to help it compete against Android and iOS.
The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is an interesting device. On the one hand, it’s easily the best BlackBerry on the market right now, and it’s an obvious choice for business and executive types. It’s got a brand-new, slimmed-down aesthetic and is one of the five devices that Research in Motion (RIM) is rolling out over the coming months that run the new BlackBerry OS 7.
But on the other hand, not much has changed. The BlackBerry has always been king of the business-oriented handsets, and BlackBerry OS 7 only shows minor changes and is clearly a placeholder until the next version, which will be a complete revamp based on QNX OS. And because there isn’t a whole lot of change, that means many of the standard BlackBerry flaws are unfortunately still intact.
Just because it’s the best BlackBerry doesn’t make it the best smartphone out there, and its failure to make any serious adjustments for the better make it a less appealing option when it’s put up against competition like Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone 7 devices.
BUILD & DESIGN
Far and away the best part about the 9930 is its build. Beyond being very aesthetically pleasing with a slick brushed-steel trim, it is the thinnest BlackBerry to date, measuring only 0.41 inches thick. The slimmed-down profile is a welcome change from the previously bulky, brick-like design of older BlackBerry models.
With the sleek design also comes a decrease in weight, adding to its portability and allowing me to easily carry it around in my pocket. The back panel of the phone is just glossy plastic and therefore fairly slick, but it can still be comfortably gripped thanks to a rubberized lining around the edges of the phone’s rear.
In a big get for the BlackBerry, the 9930 now sports a touchscreen. It has a resolution of 287 dpi (awfully close to the 300 dpi minimum to be considered a retina display) and images generally look crisp and a clear, but the pixels are crammed into a really small space: the display is a paltry 2.8 inches. I can understand that the screen could not have been made much bigger on account of the full keyboard; RIM can only make its BlackBerrys so big before they’re no longer practical.
Nevertheless, such a small amount of real estate is a bit of a problem when it comes to utilizing the 9930’s newly-acquired touchscreen controls. At this size, my thumb or finger would often take up the better part of the display when I was trying to navigate, and my attempts to select things on the touchscreen were often misplaced.
Because of that, I’m very grateful that the trackpad is still present. Using the trackpad and touchscreen in tandem makes for an excellent control scheme, and one that is certainly a lot less frustrating than using solely the touchscreen. For instance, when web browsing, I would use the touchscreen for fast scrolling and navigating the page while using the trackpad for finer movements of the cursor and selecting small targets like hyperlinks.
As has become the BlackBerry standard, the 9930 has an exceptional keyboard. Sporting rounded, angled edges on all of the keys to help minimize unintentional presses, the keyboard is responsive and comfortable to use, even with one hand. Key depressions give off a nice click to let you know they’re registering, and the keys are big enough to be hit easily and small enough so as not to result in a gigantic keyboard.
I only wish that the auto-correct was a little more diligent; depending on what application I was using, many typos would slip by uncorrected, even when the desired word was quite obvious. But even in spite of that, typing on the 9930 still is a dream and I would take this physical keyboard over a touchscreen keyboard any day.
Other Buttons & Controls
As I mentioned, the trackpad is still present on the 9930 despite the addition of the touchscreen, and I’m glad that it is. Located directly below the screen in the center, its sensitivity can be adjusted to your liking and it serves as and good way to navigate the screen in conjunction with touch controls. To the left of it is the BlackBerry “option” key, which serves as the equivalent of Android’s capacitive menu button that I personally find to be very convenient.
There aren’t many buttons on the edges of the 9930 and it makes for a minimalist design. There is a “convenience key” on the lower right side, to which you can assign virtually any function, but by default it serves as the camera key. This is probably for the best because, unfortunately, should you change the assigned function on the convenience key, you no longer have a dedicated camera button.
Beyond that, there is just your standard lock key on the top of the device and a volume rocker on the top right side (with a mute button in the middle of the two rocker ends). I did have a huge problem with the fact that the rocker did not allow you to make adjustments to the ringer levels; if you’re not on a call, the rocker switch does nothing, a design choice that I just don’t understand. Virtually every phone I have ever handled that has a rocker switch allows you to adjust your ringer level or bring it down to zero, thereby switching it to vibrate. Instead, on the 9930, the only thing the rocker switch can be used for is adjusting (or muting) the earpiece volume during — and only during — calls.
Finally, there is a micro-USB port on the left side (which can be used for both syncing and charging) and located directly above it is a full-sized, 3.5 mm headphone jack. The camera and flash are located on the back of the device.