Research in Motion (RIM) unveiled a new range of Blackberry devices running the latest operating system OS 7. These devices pack a powerful processor under the frame (unlike traditional Blackberry devices) and come in great designs. The Blackberry Bold 9900 entered our labs recently and boy, I was blown away with its looks. Indeed, 'Bold' and beautiful (pun intended).
The Bold 9900 is RIM's slimmest Blackberry yet and has a mean processor under its hood. What follows is an in-depth look at what the new Bold has to offer.
Features and Specs
The Bold 9900 joins the league of touch-and-type smartphones. However, it is a Blackberry at heart which explains the existence of the traditional keyboard-trackpad combo that Blackberry purists crave for in their smartphone. The 2.8-in screen houses a touchscreen with the new liquid graphics for a smoother touchscreen experience. The gorgeous display has a resolution of 640x480 which translates to a pixel density of 286ppi.
As I mentioned earlier, the phone runs OS7 and under the hood is a 1.2 GHz processor and internal storage of 8GB and you can use a 32GB memory card if you need that kind of memory on your phone. And as usual all your connectivity needs are handled by the regular Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS. But the major addition to the new 'Bold' phone is the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. Good move RIM!
The Bold 9900 has a fixed-focus 5MP camera and can record 720p videos at 25fps. Following the Blackberry tradition the media formats that the Bold 9900 can handle are impressive with MP3/WMA/WAV/eAAC+ to take care of your audio needs and MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264 to satiate your video cravings. However, I would have liked out-of-the-box playback of XVID videos.
The pre-installed apps include your chat clients Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Gtalk. Social networking clients Twitter and Facebook are also bundled. Once again please make sure that you download the updates for each of these apps. The bundled games include Brickbreaker and Wordmole.
Once again I do not need to reiterate that outside your desktop/laptop for accessing emails the Blackberry smartphone is your best bet. The Bold 9900 doesn't stray from this acknowledged fact and setting up emails was a breeze as usual. Please note that I had to go through the three day ordeal where I couldn't access mails or use BBM. However, I was grinning from ear-to-ear when my service provider threw three free days of BB services and internet usage and RIM gave some premium apps for free.
The phone has a bundled a full-version of Documents-to-go app which takes care of all your document apps. The app is really good for creating/editing documents on the go. It is very easy to edit/create documents on the go on this nifty app.
Design & Usability
The Bold 9900 is a beautiful phone. However, the silver strip running around the corner reminds me of the iPhone 4. For some odd reason I believe, the lookalike for the Blackberry Bold 9900's design in the human race is a slim George Clooney. It has dimensions of 115 x 66 x 10.5 mm and weighs just 130 grams. It fits perfectly in my palms and I can assure you that the Bold 9900 will fit perfectly in your palms too.
Despite, the fact that RIM has tried to keep the design simple by making the buttons an extension of the silver strip running across the phone, I found it very difficult to distinguish between the volume rockers which flanked the media on/off button. Not a major gripe though. The right side of the phone contains the 3.5mm earphone jack and the microUSB slot.
This phone has by far the best QWERTY keypad hands down. No questions need be asked. I could type faster on the phone than on my desktop keyboard. It was one smooth ride, from typing long emails to constant texting on BBM and Whatsapp. I go on to state that Blackberry loses its identity if it doesn't have the keypad (Yes I am looking at you Torch 9860. Well, that is a review for another day!).
The new Blackberry OS 7 looks very similar to OS 6 except for the fact that RIM has done away with the transparent icons which were present on the previous iteration of the OS. I did stumble across some stability issues on the Torch 9810 running OS 7. But with the Bold 9900 these problems were negated. Thankfully, the phone did not restart even once.
This is one of the brightest screens on a Blackberry. The visibility under sunlight was also really good.
Browsing and Multimedia
The great experience with the default browser continues from the Torch 9810. The default browser is now sleeker, faster and looks better. Pages loaded extremely fast and the single column view for most websites made reading an easy job. The various keyboard shortcuts that existed persist with the new browser. Two thumbs up.
The 5MP fixed focus camera is the biggest letdown in what could have been a great phone. The captured images are grainy even in sufficient sunlight. The colours are washed out and what you see on the screen of the Blackberry Bold 9900 is not the true representation of what you see when viewed on a bigger screen. The LED flash is also terrible considering it just hits the centre of the subject making the picture overexposed every time. Do not buy this phone if you are looking for at least a half-decent camera for your daily use. The phone also captures 720p videos at 25fps in 3gp format. The video had screen tear but not entirely unusable. The video quality was the only saving grace for the camera.
The loudspeaker of the Bold 9900 was so loud that it was nothing short of the high pitch wail of an opera singer. But when listening to music, it was jarring at maximum volume. Once again the Bold 9900 excels in the music department. The highs and the lows were spot on and with a good pair of earphones you can ditch that MP3 player you have been lugging around. The common video formats played without any fuss. However, the phone had trouble playing 720p and 1080p videos smoothly.
The battery life of the phone is good. The phone lasted me one day on full charge despite heavy internet usage, calls and music. Please note that 3G was on at all times.