RIM BlackBerry Bold 9900 smartphone
RIM's latest BlackBerry Bold is its fastest and most powerful BlackBerry yet
- Superb design
- Fantastic keyboard
- Bright and crisp display
- No Flash support
- Limited third-part app selection
- UI sometimes confusing
The BlackBerry Bold 9900’s superb keyboard, fantastic design and great display make it without a doubt the best BlackBerry ever produced. However, it's still very tough to recommend this over iPhone and Android alternatives when you take into account the software, and the lack of third-party apps available.
Applications on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 are stored in draws. Swiping across the screen access’ different draws; all of your applications (main menu), your favourite apps (user definable), media, downloads from BlackBerry App World, and frequently used applications. Unfortunately, these drawers can't be edited or modified, apart from choosing what to place in each one. You can choose not to display any of the draws in the settings menu if you wish, however.
Perhaps the biggest improvement in BlackBerry 7 is the Web browser. There’s still no Flash support, but load times have noticeably improved over previous models, pinch to zoom is effective despite the cramped display, and you can open Web pages in tabs then scroll through them by swiping across the display. Scrolling is also fluid and feels very natural: a far cry from the clunky feel of previous BlackBerry browsers. Despite all these improvements, the Web browsing experience remains inferior to most competitors.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 has an excellent universal search tool that’s now aided by the inclusion of voice search. Like all voice activated functions, its hit and miss but can be surprisingly accurate at times. It’s a little strange though that you have to tap the “done” button once you have finished speaking: we feel it should automatically begin searching.
Ultimately, despite the presence of a touchscreen, we still feel the Bold 9900’s interface is often confused between the old and the new. It’s clear this operating system has been built with a track pad and physical buttons in mind, and then tweaked to become compatible with a touchscreen, resulting in some rough edges. As an example, some icons and text on the screen are too small, making them hard to press with a fingertip, but easier to access with the use of the track pad.
Being a BlackBerry device, e-mail support is as strong as ever. The BlackBerry Bold 9900 supports e-mail services through the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES). Microsoft Word and Excel documents can be edited and viewed thanks to the on-board Word To Go and Sheet To Go applications. In addition to 3G connectivity, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 has Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth capabilities. It also has Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, but this is more for future proofing than anything else: there are no NFC payment systems currently active in Australia to make use of the technology. The Bold 9900 lacks HDMI-out connectivity.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 provides access to BlackBerry App World, RIM's third-party app store. It doesn't boast the same number of apps as Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market, but paid apps can be purchased in Australia (using PayPal) and most of the popular apps (such as Facebook, Twitter, eBay and Windows Live Messenger) are available.
The Bold 9900 is also a capable media player that features a refreshing interface, and the 5-megapixel camera also doubles as a video recorder. One real positive is the BlackBerry 9900's battery life. It often lasted over two days during testing, placing it far ahead of most of its rivals and making it a handy device for road warriors.
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GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.