The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is, in its very essence, pure style. From the ergonomic keypad to the sexy chrome trim, it oozes sophistication and elegance. The Bold 9700, released by RIM (Research In Motion), comes with the latest OS 5.0, a 3.2 megapixel camera, 256MB flash memory and a highly sensitive trackpad, instead of the stiffer and slightly annoying trackball, featured on the ‘Curve’ models. The faux leather detail on the battery cover is a nice little touch – as if to say “Yeah, we know it’s the back of the phone, but we still care.”
That’s how it feels with a BlackBerry – it cares about you. It wants to help you organise and connect every part of your life. Its synchronisation capabilities are second to none, partly due to the fact that it supports ‘push’ email as standard. For corporate users, emails are sent to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which monitors your inbox, then it relays emails directly to your BlackBerry. The service also supports personal email and webmail services (Gmail, Hotmail etc). The uncomplicated version is that every time you get an email, you get an alert in the same way you would when you receive a text message. Then you can choose to either delete it just from your handheld, or from your inbox altogether. Which, if nothing else, saves that annoying moment when you check your inbox to find 152 emails that you have to check before you delete them ‘just in case’. Going into Googlemail and seeing “Inbox – 0” really shouldn’t be as satisfying as it is!
What makes the Bold better than other BlackBerrys? I hear you cry. Well, before the Bold, I had a Storm. I thought that the Storm was fantastic. The Storm was not fantastic. It was the first time I’d owned a smart phone, so I didn’t really appreciate just how good it could be. It needed an average of 3 battery pulls a DAY, when it froze because I’d asked it to do too many things too quickly. It was slow, half the apps I attempted to download didn’t work, and I eventually destroyed the OS by getting fed up with it and doing a battery pull mid-way through taking 20 minutes to install an app. Not a great plan. The upside of my catastrophic endeavour was that I realised just how rubbish the Storm was and decided that as soon as I could upgrade, I would.
And then I got the Bold. Oh goodness me. It is simply effortless.
Apart from the push email, BB users have access to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). An instant messaging service available to BB users anywhere in the world. As part of the OS 5.0 upgraded software, the home and applications screens get a makeover, as does BBM, which can now track SMS conversations as well as regular messenger ‘chats’ with your contacts.
One of the other superb things about the Bold is its ability to run multiple apps at once. Exit from Googlemaps whilst it’s still trying to figure out where you are, and by the time you’ve read your email, you go back into Googlemaps and the page has loaded nicely. You can have the browser looking for a page, Facebook refreshing itself, Twitter updating, emails and texts sending and a little game of Word Mole going on all at once, without the phone even slowing down. Running multiple apps is something that RIM have got absolutely spot on with the Bold. There’s never a moment where you say, “come on you stupid phone!” because it just doesn’t slow down!
When you browse Apps in BB App World, you can read mini reviews about each app. And far too many apps are from disgruntled Curve or Storm users who can’t get the app to work. I have so far installed in excess of 25 apps on my BB, and have never had a problem with a single one. And for those who assume that the iPhone is the only phone with decent apps, they are so very wrong. The first noteworthy app is “Poynt” – a directory of businesses, cinemas and restaurants (yes… just like on an iPhone). There’s a translation app, a dictionary and thesaurus app, a Facebook app, PayPal, eBay, YouTube, news and weather widgets, geocaching, GoogleMaps and apps that read out your texts and emails so you don’t have to risk your life whilst driving. There’s even an app to allow your BB to become a toy for babies (where they can press the keys and it makes funny noises, with letters and shapes appearing on the screen), if you’re brave enough to hand your BlackBerry over to a dribbling toddler, that is! And on the Bold 9700 they all work perfectly. Occasionally they slow the handset, and you need to reboot. But as soon as it’s given itself a little shakedown and a refresh, every single app I have installed on my BB does exactly what it says it’s going to do. Which is pretty much what you expect from a piece of kit that costs nearly £500…
Camera and Video Camera
Ok, so it’s not the BlackBerry’s best feature. It’s only 3.2mp which, lets face it, is a little on the poor side. It doesn’t appear to matter though, as the camera is actually rather good. Compared to other smart phones (such as the Nokia phones with higher megapixels than my actual camera), it’s not way up there. But it has shortcut keys on the side so you can get to it instantly, and it runs smoothly alongside other applications. The flash is ridiculously bright, and it has a few cute colour effects, but nothing to write home about. For short video clips, however, it’s fantastic. The subject does have to endure a bright white light in their eyes whilst you film, but the quality of the end product is surprisingly clear, as is the sound quality. Speaking of which…
The memory of the Bold isn’t brilliant. So it’s advisable to use it with a memory card. Different places will give you different packages, so it’s best to ask and see what you can get out of them. Phones 4U managed to give me a 2GB card, but neglected to tell me whether it came with the phone or if it was out of the kindness of their own hearts. But when you do have a memory card inserted, synching your music onto it is as simple as it can be. You plug it into your Mac or PC, drag your playlists out of iTunes (or WMP etc) and into the BlackBerry Desktop Manager Software and voila. The only annoying thing about the music player is that unless you have the sound profile set to vibrate or silent, every time you get a text, email etc, the audible alert stops the music. Other than that, it works really well on the Bold – and having a “now playing” option in the menu on each screen is really useful, as it means you don’t have to navigate all the way back to whichever song you were listening to, its just a click away. Buy some decent headphones for it though, because the ones supplied seem like they were out of a cracker.
About 80% of the time, the GPS accuracy is within 4 meters. On the Storm, I found that it would regularly tell me that my GPS was “temporarily unavailable”, which was a pain in the bum. This is very rarely a problem on the Bold. The maps application that comes with the phone isn’t great, but download GoogleMaps and it works beautifully. Having access to Street View is a nice touch too.
Apart from its main feature – push email; there are so many other things that make the BlackBerry first choice for anyone who wants to combine everything on one handset. Not only can you sync it with your Google calendar and your Mac/PC diary, you can even sync it with your Facebook events! The Desktop Manager Software is excellent both on Mac and PC, which, as a Mac user, makes for a refreshing change. Backing up your data from the Bold onto the desktop software takes barely any time at all, and is pretty much as simple as it can be (via micro USB).
But it has its downsides too, like… Ok, no it doesn’t. Apart from the slight crappiness of the camera, everything about it works perfectly. In comparison with the Curve, it’s faster at downloading and dealing with tasks, and the trackpad is much easier to use and more reliable than the Curve’s trackball. In comparison to the Storm2, the screen doesn’t stick and it doesn’t get confused as to where your fingers are. In comparison to the Pearl, well… QWERTY keyboard, anyone?
The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is certainly the most efficient BB that RIM produce. Its ease of use, combined with seamless synchronicity, elegance and lets face it, a certain pretentiousness, make it easily the most advanced and stylish smart phone on the market. Whether you want it for business or personal use, it will only serve to help improve and organise your life. And this model is by far the fastest, most intuitive and prettiest to date.