Product Type: Blackberry Smartphone
Newest Review: ... a blackberry before you can easily convert and fall in love with it. The apps are great and I love the email and facebook accessibilty. Th... more
Blackberry, an excellent practical phone
Blackberry Bold 9700
Member Name: tlmartin
Blackberry Bold 9700
Advantages: Excellent emails and calls
Disadvantages: slo internet and limited apps
Well 18 months had passed since I took out my Blackberry Bold 9000. I had enjoyed the Blackberry phones overall as they provided me with the business resources I needed. I could access my personal 3 email accounts, as a teacher I could access the school Exchange account and one of my very important clients (as I do IT Consultancy) I had an additional Exchange account. The Blackberry has shown itself as the only phone (pre iOS 4) that can access multiple Exchange accounts, and it does it very well. I still needed this kind of access and it was 1 month before the iPhone 4 was about to be announced for release, so when my contract was up for renewal I went for the new Blackberry Bold 9700.
As I say the Blackberry does a fantastic job when it comes to emails and calls, however the internet has never been at top speed, the browser very limited and there are hardly any apps. I would have liked the iPhone, but the existing iPhone could only access 1 Exchange account (I needed 2, actually 3 as Google calendar is also classed as an Exchange account). Further to this there was no speculation on the release date of the new iPhone 4 nor was there any speculation they would improve it for business purposes. The other phones out there, using Google android also could only access 1 Exchange account, so I gave up hope of the iPhone 4, and decided on settling for the newest version of my existing Blackberry.
The Blackberry Bold continues to be a good phone. The Bold 9000 is enhanced with some basic features. The phone is smaller, comes with a nicer leather pouch/case for the phone, the roller ball is gone and replaced with a very small track pad and there are buttons on the top to quickly lock and unlock the phone.
This phone is certainly better than the Bold 9000, as it has been essentially supped up, the problem is on the functionality wise there is no real improvement. Or the rest of this review I will stop comparing and write it as a review of the product overall.
The first thing to note is the keypad. As this phone is relatively narrow, making it nicer to fit in the hand you may be worried that the keypad too will be small, making it harder to use. However they clearly have got something right from the Pearls, they have a very nicely designed keypad which is very easy to type on whether it is by one hand or two. The keypad spouts a full Qwerty keyboard, with shift key for capital letters, ALT key for numbers and symbols. The symbols they have chosen to put on the keypad are the typical ones used, I find it very rare I have to use the Symbol button to access other symbols.
There are then 4 main buttons above the keypad, one for call and one for hang up, one button for the menu and the other to allow you to go back from your menu choices.
Finally there is the track pad which is also a button. The button clicks to choose the menu options, it also has a built in optical sensor that can detect the direction of finger movements that you use to direct the selector around the menu options.
The screen is a good size, very clear, and high quality. It is also easy to put a screen protector on as the screen is very exposed. The screen shows off 1 row of 5 menu options you use or the full list of menu options if you go into the menu. It also shows the time and various connections at the top (Bluetooth, wifi, 3g, etc). It also has easy access to set the theme whether the mobile is on normal ring, or silent, or vibrate or call only, or anything else you want to configure. You have full control over figuring these options. Finally there are also symbols that appear for emails, txts, instant messages, etc that appear that the top to inform you at quick glance of anything to be aware of.
The contacts book on the Blackberry is very comprehensive. It stores full personal information, name, job title, birthday (which gets automatically placed into your calendar), Multiple Phone, Mobile, Fax and email addresses, Again all that can be easily accessed from any other applications requiring these. It allows you to store home and work addresses and categories for grouping contacts. Finally there are also 4 custom fields for anything special you need to store.
The calendar is pretty good. You have your own internal calendar on the phone, however if you use Google sync you can sync it with Google calendar. Unfortunately this is where the functionality ends. Personally I have 2 calendars a school one and a personal one, my wife also has a calendar. With Google calendar we share the 3 calendars that way we can see what everyone is doing when so we can book appointments or know if each other are going to be late etc. With Google calendar it is all colour coded and we have the ability to write to each others calendars. With the Blackberry calendar you can see all of the Google calendars you have access too, unfortunately they all download as 1 colour, and if they clash they highlight as a clash. So on my phone I have to ignore my wifes calendar otherwise her working day and my working day would clash, further any appointment I make can only be made to the primary calendar which is my personal, so if I have to make a work appointment I always have to tidy things up online and swap calendars. It would be good if Blackberry could fix this problem as not even the iPhone has the problem (the iPhone can handle as many calendars as you like with colour coding and swapping events between calendars).
The web browser is acceptable, however it is nowhere near the best mobile phone browser. The browser will allow you to access most websites, including those using Java. It can handle logging in and purchases. However it is very slow, even using 3G the speed on which the page loads is tedious. The screen layout as it tries to fit the whole page on 1 screen comes with a high quality, but tiny view. You have to zoom in. The zoom in is via click, which then means the page needs to re-render... again taking time. Usually to make it readable you have to zoom in 2 times. This makes looking at any web page take such a long time, and is one of the worst features on this phone.
The e-mail is the best feature of this phone. Email works in a special way, what happens is that you are registered with BIS, which is a Blackberry owned server that you set up to connect to your email servers. This then pushes the e-mails down to your phone. Emails all have separate mailboxes on your phone, however you do have an overall mailbox that allows you to collect all of your emails into one place to view. When you send an email, the email is sent to the BIS which forwards it onto your specific email account and onwards to the recipient. You have full control over which account you send from, but it will choose the default of which account received the email if you are replying.
One of the massively attractive features of Blackberry phones is if you have a number of friends owning one, you can use Blackberry Messenger. Blackberry Messenger is a free instant messenger service that can be used to talk between friends and/or groups of friends, you can send files/images, etc. Its like a unique version of MSN but for Blackberry users only. It is completely free whether you are on PAG or Contract, and doesn't get classed as using Data. This means for people trying to save money it is fantastic as it you don't need to use txt's. Unfortunately I only have 1 friend on it so it doesn't do much good for me.
Obviously a very important factor for smartphones today are the apps you can use on the device. When Blackberry's started taking off for home users the App Store was a web page with some text links, with very few apps that users could use. As the iPhone was released Blackberry developed its very own App Store - 'App World'. This very quickly started getting numerous apps both free and chargeable that you could choose from. There are a few apps I have downloaded and used, however there are nowhere near the numbers as on the iPhone App Store. Further to this I do not feel safe or entirely sure on how I would go about paying for one of the chargeable apps. This entire system is not straight forward.
The phone is Quad band, meaning it can be used practically anywhere in the world.
It Supports GPRS, EDGE and 3G, meaning it will handle most telephone masts.
It has Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity.
It has a good quality camera, although it only has a 3MP camera, but with Flash, which means excellent quality photos can be taken.
This phone has given me one problem after about 11 months of ownership. It is something other people have reported on websites too. During calls to landlines the phone would start to echo, I would hear back what I had just said with about a 1 second delay. It suddenly started and would only happen on a 3G network, as soon as I turned my phone to 2G it worked fine. This clearly was the phone as Orange replaced the handset and it is working fine on 3G now... no more echoes. So please be aware if your phone does start to give you an echo while talking on it, the handset is faulty.
This is an excellent phone overall, however not as much fun as an iPhone could be. For the main use of organisation, emails and phonecalls you cannot go wrong with this Blackberry, however if you do require more functionality look at the other phones out there like the iPhone. I personally do wish I would have waited for the iPhone 4 (when iOS4 was announced with the mulktiple Exchange server access), but to be honest I can not complain at this phone. It is stylish, it does its job, it is just the internet is slow and there are not many applications I can use, I think I only have 5 installed (where as on my iPad I have 7 pages full of apps.)
My recommendation for people is to judge what is your priority. If it is business, email, and calls then go for the blackberry. If it is fun and multimedia go for an iPhone.
Summary: If your priority is email get this phone