Product Type: Blackberry Smartphone
Newest Review: ... facebook etc should be pretty much ready to go. At first I loved the phone its quick to use, the qwerty keypad is a mega plus for me b... more
A Sweet Blackberry with just a Few Sour Bits
Blackberry Bold 9900
Member Name: Novabug
Blackberry Bold 9900
Advantages: Fast, big screen, superb design, combination screen/keyboard works well. Excellent sound quality
Disadvantages: Battery life quite short, limited app's, not massively robust.
--The Bold 'Berry Returns!--
When it comes to smart-phones owners today, we are normally in one of three groups. We have the iPhone people, the rather quiet Android owners and the ever defensive Blackberry fraternity. I originally choose the RIM Blackberry because of the qwerty keyboard they have, and was very happy with my old Bold 9700. Since then, Android handsets now have qwerty keyboards, and the iPhone has continued to develop so to hold the monopoly with applications and big company interest. That said, I still found the Blackberry easier to use than the iPhone, but was wanting to have a RIM handset which could be a could contender to the iPhone's popularity.
Blackberry's first Bold model was the 9000, originally with a large screen but rather slow and cumbersome. The 9700 with a smaller screen came with great advancements, like the brilliant trackpad controller, but when I owned it, I always found myself wanting to use the icons on the screen to flick through pictures or music, having enviously seen Android and iPhone users do this. I always thought that a combination of keyboard and touch-screen would be the solution. RIM thought this too launching the big screen Torch with the sliding keyboard, but topped this with the new Bold 9900. This handset has the touch-screen interaction while keeping the Bold design layout, making the use of touch-screen and keyboard simultaneously. For me, this is the way forward for any future Blackberry handset, and any update on the Bold or Curve should incorporate this feature.
--Price, Packaging and Design--
Mobile handsets of all types are so random in their pricing it seems. Suppliers, stockists, service providers and retailers all have different costings for any given smart-phone, and the 9900 is no exception. If you were to buy a single handset, you would be looking at £400 up to £650. Expensive, but deals are available normally if you sign a 18/24 month contract with a service provider. I actually got my handset free, on the back of a new 18 month contract with Orange, but my previous loyalty to the company had helped this happen. It would have cost £50 for a new customer, and I would imagine other providers would do this in a similar fashion.
As for packaging, you are presented with a black stiff card box with everything meticulously placed inside perfectly. A plastic insert and card separators are inside, so it's all neat and tidy and all easily recycled. All the relevant information and instructions are on several leaflets and a CD ROM, as is the rather awkward Blackberry PC software.
Most Blackberry handsets follow a simple design cue, dominated by the qwerty keyboard and central trackpad/rollball. The 9900 doesn't veer away from this a great deal, but little touches are put in to make it a very appealing design. The screen is larger than any previous Bold, and the whole design is far more slimline and extremely light. The brushed aluminium surround with the integrated function switches echoes that of the iPhone, and look a far more polished piece of design than any previous Blackberry handset. The plastic is well moulded and it all fits together neatly and solidly. The battery cover is of a smooth mock carbon fibre appearance, gone is the rubber base of the older phone. Another improvement is the primary function keys under the screen, which are flush with the design with no gaps, and the keyboard too is tighter and more precise, slightly larger keys and minimal gaps make for a small but significant improvement. All these aspects together, makes for a great looking modern phone which is easy to handle and carry on a day to day basis.
--Features and Usability--
Anybody new to a Blackberry phone will find it takes time to get used to the interface, but once you do, it's a very fluid system and very user friendly. Of course, nearly all functions can be controlled from either the screen for the trackpad, and it's entirely up to the user to choose this. Using the screen icons is easy, with everything organised in sub menu's on the home-screen. These can be scrolled sideways or expanded with a quick swipe or tap of the finger, and makes everything on the phone accessible from here. All functions can be entered and exited quickly and without lingering in the background once you are used to the menu system. Alternatively, you can use the trackpad in the traditional Blackberry way, and scroll through the same menu's just as quick. The trackpad can be extremely responsive for some, but can be adjusted. I find using the screen is easier, but certain applications, like the phone book, are better to use with the trackpad. These methods of simultaneous control make the use of this handset very personal, and I doubt many people will use the 9900 in the same way to each other. The several buttons of the sides are also very responsive, maybe too much in some instances. The variable short cut button on the lower right side can be a problem when putting the phone in a case or pocket, and will activate it's assigned app without you wanting it too. The default of this is for the camera, so finding my handset in camera mode when pulling it out of my pocket is a common occurrence. Typing in numbers in for a simple call can be odd to the new user, but like anything new, once you are used to it, it's not something to worry about.
Typing with the qwerty keys is very easy for most average sized fingers, as is the size of the on-screen icons. The keys have that ever-so-retro 'click' to them which I like. This gives a feeling of sturdiness and control of what your typing. They are brilliantly responsive, as with all the controls on the phone as a whole. A nice little touch is also the sunken 'lock' switch in the top edge, which I feel is a handy thing to have and use with ease. Everything else that we expect with a smart phone is present, it can be fully personalised, charges quickly and can be linked to a computer like a USB module. As ever I recommend you link to a computer in this manner and just drag and drop files into the phone, the bundled software is, like most mobile phone software, not very good and just uses a lot on memory for no real benefit.
This is the first Blackberry to be packed with as many features as possible, and this is constantly improving with the app's which are playing catchup to be developed for the newer RIM OS7 operating system which the 9900 uses. Of course, we have the usual smart phone refinement. A 5 MP camara, HD video recording and playback (Which are both excellent), MP3 playlisting and library, calender, timing functions and a comprehensive contacts system. This is all without mentioning the Blackberry bread and butter of messaging and email, which when used on a Blackberry are so easy and quick. So, it's not behind on features in the slightest, just maybe the support and range of external applications is weak, but this is improving steadily. This handset also includes the new-enhancement of NFC, so the phone has the potental to act as you credit card or bus pass, but sofeware and availability for this is in it's infancy, so not a great benefit as this time.
--Performance and Durability--
After the disappointment with the Torch 9800, I was very pleased to find that the updated processor and OS on the 9900 is very, very good. The phone is very quick and fluid, the touch screen operates smoothly and seldom fails to react to your actions, and all the manual keys are equally as good. Blackberry's have always had an issue with streaming and browsing, but this is not a big issue on this handset. Browsing has been simplified a bit but is clear and easy to use, and when in a good 3G area, pretty quick. If you are using a wireless network, then it's just like using a laptop to browse. It's quick to refresh and most web enhancements are now compatible. Unfortunately, Flash still cannot be used however, but the loading times and data streaming is much improved and much closer to the browsing performance of an iPhone.
The media capabilities of the 9900 are very good, the sharp 5MP camera is fine for little pictures and links with app's for Facebook and Twitter quickly for uploading. The HD video is also a brilliant feature, and just like the camera is easy to use with many options but few editing tools. These functions do deplete the battery pretty quickly though, as does anything outside of messaging and calling. Some app's and games can drain the battery within an hour, and streaming also causes this to happen. Charging the battery is a quick process though, but it is not the longest life of a mobile phone battery.
The included MP3 player is much better than the old version, and strangely doesn't eat the battery in the same way. With track details and coverart displayed, it performs like a dedicated MP3 player. The sound quality is of the expected high standard, and app's such as Shazam, 7Digital and Amazon can download music directly into the library. The external speaker is also surprisingly loud and high quality for a phone so thin, but music playing should always be reserved for the earphones. Buy some better ones than the ones supplied in the box however, as these are pretty weak.
With all these functions and the rather extensive contacts book, it's quite efficient on memory. With 8GB on the phone, this a plenty and can be expanded with a MicroSD card of your choice. Of course, HD videos do tend to chew this up quickly, but other functions like games, music and app's would take quite a while to fill this up. On the whole, the general performance of this phone is excellent with just a few niggles here and there. It has only froze on me once in the 3 months I have owned it, and this was resolved with a quick reboot so no harm done. The other slight problem maybe the overall toughness of the phone. The metal surround and plastics on the back can scratch easily if dropped, it won't fall apart with the odd accidental fall but but I wouldn't think it would tolerate this on a constant basis. The touch screen however is quite hard wearing, and can put up with greasy, dirty fingers and cleaning without issues. RIM continually send automatic updates too, so keeping apps and other things up to date is easy as well. Lastly, used as a simple telephone lest we forget amidst all the functions that smart phones perform, it is of the highest quality for sound and reception, local signal permitting of course.
Height - 115 mm
Width - 66 mm
Depth - 10.5 mm
Weight - 130g
Memory - 768MB RAM, 8GB eMMC
Expandable memory - Up to 32 GB µSD card
Processor - QC 8655 1.2GHz
Battery - 1230 mAh removable/rechargeable lithium-ion battery
GSM Talk Time - Up to 6.3 hours
GSM Standby Time - Up to 12.8 days
UMTS Talk Time - Up to 5.9 hours
UMTS Standby Time - Up to 12.8 days
Audio Playback Time - Up to 50 hours
Video Playback Time - Up to 7.4 hours
5 MP camera
HD Video recording (720p)
4X Digital Zoom
Face detection and Image Stabilisation
Wi-Fi - 802.11 2.4 GHz b/g/n, 5GHz a/n
VGA 640 × 480 resolution
287 dpi Transmissive TFT LCD
Taking all the plus points and the few negatives into consideration, I believe this is the best handset RIM have produced to date. The improvements are a great leap forward over previous handsets, and the good reliability and quickness of the operating system and processor is the highlight. The quality of the basic aspects like calling and messaging are brilliant, and for me are better than any other handset. Even though the browsing and app range had been improved greatly, I doubt iPhone users will be persuaded over, but people upgrading from 'dumb phones' or people switching from Android should take this phone into consideration, as it's a top all-rounder and has that unique selling point of a working combination of touch and type without a slider. With the app developers catching up to program for the new OS7, the Bold 9900 will prove to be a new lease of life for Blackberry, and all handsets that follow should take this as a blueprint. A fine phone which I am entirely happy with, fun and easy to use and cannot be beaten for the communication it enables you to have.
Thanks for Reading. © Novabug
Summary: This Blackberry is not a Gooseberry!