BlackBerry Bold 9000

The best BlackBerry yet

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Research In Motion BlackBerry Bold 9000
  • Research In Motion BlackBerry Bold 9000
  • Research In Motion BlackBerry Bold 9000
  • Research In Motion BlackBerry Bold 9000
  • Expert Rating

    4.75 / 5

Pros

  • Design, display, QWERTY keyboard, user interface, voice quality, Wi-Fi, HSDPA-capable

Cons

  • Mediocre camera, questionable battery life

Bottom Line

The Bold is by far the best BlackBerry yet and has very few flaws. A refreshing new interface, outstanding display and reasonable multimedia features are just some of what it has to offer. Most importantly, this superb device is great for both enterprise users and regular consumers.

Would you buy this?

The hotly anticipated BlackBerry Bold is finally here and we're extremely impressed. RIM's latest device aims to end the idea that BlackBerrys are only for corporate users. To this end it offers a stunning display, a redesigned interface and a wealth of multimedia features.

The Bold has been completely redesigned. Despite not possessing a touch-screen display, there are some minimal similarities to Apple's iPhone 3G. The silver edging surrounding the Bold bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone, as does the flat nature of the display and curved rear. We aren't a fan of the leather-style battery cover — which looks like something out of the late '90s — but the rest of the handset looks stylish and appealing, making it the most attractive BlackBerry yet.

The differences between the Bold and the iPhone are key ones. The Bold uses a trackball for the majority of navigation and a physical QWERTY keyboard for data entry, RIM having resisted the temptation of a touch screen. For corporate users and others who require the device for heavy text entry, this is welcome news. The trackball is the same as previous BlackBerry models — our only complaint is that it could have been a little larger considering the size of the Bold itself.

The keyboard has undergone a complete transformation from the previous BlackBerry Curve 8310. The major difference is that the keys have less space between them, though the slightly curved shape of the keyboard remains. Tactile feedback is excellent, and each key is responsive and comfortable. The fact that you can slide your fingers across the keys to select a letter instead of having to take your finger off the unit is convenient. It takes a little longer to get used to typing on the Bold's keyboard than the Curve's, but we were able to achieve reasonable speeds after just a couple of hours. Heavy e-mailers should be reasonably pleased with the new design.

The Bold's display is what really sets it apart from previous BlackBerry models. The 480x320 resolution screen is crisp and clear and displays excellent colour. Viewing angles are also superb; video optimised for the display is some of the best we've seen on a mobile phone. The redesigned user interface also benefits from the display: moving along the row of menu icons on the home screen results in a small flash of light shining on the selected icon — a nice touch of eye candy.

The interface itself is easy to use and relatively straightforward, making this unit a delight to operate. However, the biggest advantage is the speed: the Bold is by far the quickest BlackBerry we've ever used, with no apparent lag or slowdown. Applications open and close effortlessly, and the unit also has no issues running a number of them simultaneously.

As a phone, the Bold is a well-equipped device, offering voice dialling, conference calling, speed dialling and call forwarding. RIM has vastly improved this BlackBerry's call quality — conversations are loud, crisp and clear and the speakerphone, in particular, is excellent compared to previous models. For mobile Internet, the included browser can't compete with Safari on the iPhone, but it does a reasonable job regardless. You can view pages in a full desktop HTML style or a mobile version; the trackball conveniently allows panning and zooming across pages.

HSDPA connectivity is a welcome inclusion, as is a GPS receiver and the pre-installed BlackBerry Maps software. The Bold also includes Wi-Fi, a 2-megapixel camera with the option of geotagging photos and a media player that handles videos, music and images. A 3.5mm headphone jack is present and the bundled headphones are of reasonable quality; the A2DP Bluetooth profile will also allow the use of wireless headphones. Surprisingly, the sound quality when playing music through the external speaker is above average and volume is incredibly loud.

The Bold includes a microSD card slot and there is a 1GB card included in the sales package. The good news is that RIM has also included 1GB of internal memory. Perhaps the only questionable aspect of the Bold is its battery life. With Wi-Fi enabled and just periodic use, we were forced to charge the unit every night, just to be on the safe side. Heavy users will struggle to get past two days before needing a recharge.

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