So here we have the Blackberry 9700, also popularly known as the Bold 2. (RIM went as far as etching “Bold” on the back of the phone as well – something not present on the original Blackberry 9000, the Bold). The original Bold was the first of it’s kind. The massive 2.5” screen with HVGA resolution, and the first 3G Blackberry, giving a clear impression RIM wanted to change the “boring” look of traditional blackberries (started by the introduction of Blackberry 8100). The Bold 2 has built upon several of the predecessor’s in Blackberries’ lineup over the last year or so. The exact specs can be found here
(This could be highlights I guess) But to give you a feel of the device, the size feels identical to the current Blackbery Tour (on CDMA networks) and Blackberry Curve 8900 (on GSM networks). The keypad is a slightly reduced keypad lifted off the original Bold. The display is the same high-resolution 480×360 with a 2.44” screen. The most notable upgrade on this device however is the new optical trackpad (which IMHO is a pleasure to use and now I cannot use the trackball present on the Blackberry 9000 at all!). The sensitivity of the response can be modified from the settings itself, but at 70% sensitivity it still seems to be extremely responsive! Physically the new chrome bezel is more attractive than current Blackberry offerings and this phone down – right looks gorgeous. The phone launched across major North. American carriers in the first week of November, and the phone used in this review is from Rogers, Canada.
Competition: As of right now the only competition the phone faces in the currently released phone market is the iPhone 3GS (reviewed for Fone Arena as well). However Nokia’s E72 will go head on with the Blackberry 9700 when it hit’s the worldwide market. (Nokia should really have sped up the launch for the E72). Palm Pixi, based on WebOS is another phone but due to it’s CDMA limitations wont really be competing against the 9700, which has essentially become the handset to have simultaneously launched across most of the world.
– Blackberry 9700 handset
– 1500mah battery (identical to the one used in the original Bold)
– Micro USB cable
– Leather holster
– 3.5mm headphones with microphone built-in
Top: Lock key, mute/standby key
Bottom: Connectors for charging dock
Left: 3.5mm headphone jack, charging port/micro USB port, convenience key
Right: Volume keys, convenience key
Back: LED Flash and 3.2mp camera
The memory card slot is underneath the battery cover, and RIM took a step down from the 9000 and decided to make it inaccessible for hot-swap. The device will have to be powered down for you to take the SIM and microSDHC card in/out. The Rogers 9700 comes pre-loaded with a 2GB microSDHC.
For the purpose of the review I will compare this phone to it’ predecessor the Blackberry 9000
Keypad – The keypad feels cramped, compared to the bigger, more spacious 9000 keypad. This is because of the reduced size of the device itself, but the keys are still wide and flat. After using the keypad extensively for over two weeks, I have no issues typing out emails/messages and stories on this phone.
Display – reduced size means reduced display size as well. The difference is noticeable but doesn’t hinder the use in any way. The colours and the type of LCD used are identical. No issues here.
Processor/RAM – The processor is the same on both the devices, but the 9700 has double the RAM compared to the 9000. These means running multiple applications in the background with a memory leak issue or any glitch. This annoyed me a lot on the 9000 which often started crawling when too many applications were open, but not an issue with the 9700. The phone comes preloaded with OS 220.127.116.111 which has been optimized to use the extra memory efficiently. After pre-loading the Bold and Bold 2 with OS 5.0 the difference in the performance of both the phones is negligible, but the 9700 will not choke after running say 2-3 memory intensive programs such as Viigo, or Mypoynt.
Camera – the performance is unmatched compared to the 9000. The AF+LED Flash make a HUGE difference in the imaging department. No contest here, the 9700 has the edge.
Battery Life – I don’t know what RIM did but this phone has a stellar battery life. Maybe it’s an OS5.0 thing, or the way the phone is wired, I don’t know but this phone out last’s the 9000 by a few hours. Easily. This was obviously an unscientific observation.
The device comes pre-loaded with the new BB OS 5.0 which offers a whole lot of new features – but no real UI change from older OS.The most obvious change is the threaded SMS – a welcome addition which looks almost identical to the Blackberry Messenger application itself (which may result in sending out several text messages while forgetting that you are infact texting and not on BBM).
3G (HSDPA) compatible
UMTS: 2100/1900/850/800 MHz (Bands 1,2,5/6), 2100/1700/900 MHz (Bands 1,4,8)
GSM: 1900/1800/900/850 MHz
Quad-band support: GSM 850; GSM
As you can tell, the phone cannot take advantage of the new HSPA+ networks launched in Canada, or Australia due to support of HSPDA speeds of 3.6mbps only. The E72 however, does support upto 10.2mbps up and HSUPA 2mbps. But keep in mind data coming to the Blackberry connected on BIS/BES is already compressed which is why emails/text/messages don’t seem to lag (except the occasional RIM Outages)
The phone also has GPS with built-in Blackberry maps which work only on a data connection. Not Wifi.
microSDHC slot with support upto 32GB microSDHC
The new OS 5.0 has marginally improved browsing speeds, but I’d recommend using Opera right away unless you need to download applications OTA. On that note, BB App world has been getting updates every now and then – and seems to become more and more stable. Applications are added weekly – but still cannot come close to the sheer number of applications on the iPhone/iTouch platform.
The processor can handle large AVI files without a hitch, and the media player supports a whole variety of formats. To be specific it can play –
Video format support: XviD partially supported, H.263, H.264, WMV3, MPEG4, Sorenson Spark & On2 VP6 (Flash support)
Audio format support: .3gp, MP3, WMA9 (.wma/.asf), WMA9 Pro / WMA 10, MIDI, AMR-NB, Professional AAC/AAC+/eAAC+
The Blackberries are the golden standard when it comes to messaging and emailing. There’s no contest to the platform on the whole. And this phone just reiterates that. Perhaps Gmail users will be the ones that have the most advantages if you are on BIS due to the partnership of RIM and Google. The recent BIS update now offers contact synchronization as well thru RIM’s special enterprise activation.
Blackberry offers support for hosted exchange as an addon as well to MS Exchange users. If you use Google Apps there’s support for synchronization there as well. If you just want to do email, there’s hardly any competition for the Blackberry. Nokia Messaging has yet to establish itself to prove itself as competition to BIS. Services like SEVEN as well are no match to the stellar performance offered by BIS. If there’s one thing the Blackberries can do right, it’s messaging.
The downloads folder has an icon now that states “Get new games” which is tied to the carrier’s offerings. Everything else in unchanged and standard to OS 5.0.
The only immediate competition this device faces is the Nokia E72,.The phone offers a higher resolution, and a bigger screen compared to the E72, which to heavy mobile users is a necessity. Email and messaging on the Blackberry is unmatched regardless of the platform you use. If you are new to the market, and have not used Blackberries at all, a better blackberry to start off would be the new Blackberry 8520, Gemini. However, veteran blackberry users will appreciate the new 9700. Coming from the 9000 did require some getting used to – but in matter of days I mastered the keypad. The extra RAM makes a huge difference if you are used to running several applications in the background like I do. The imaging upgrades along with the new OS make the phone feel “new” and not just an incremental upgrade over the 9000. The improved battery life is welcome, but the optical trackpad makes the phone a charm to use. The phone’s “perfect” size makes it tough to put it down.
This will only fuel the addiction, of what we all know is called the Crackberry.
This Review was written by Jonty Misra who is based out of Canada but has his roots in India . When he’s not typing emails on his Blackberry , he can be found shopping at an Apple Store
This review is based on a Blackberry Bold 2 on Rogers Canada. The Bold2 is expected to launch in India soon at a price of Rs.31000.