Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
5/7/2011 10:50:16 AM
Perfect QWERTY keyboard, best email support on the market, super responsive trackpad.
Limited customisation possible, small screen size impedes web browsing and media viewing
If the original BlackBerry Bold was a smartphone in its prime, the Bold 9700 is a BlackBerry on ‘roids; a streamlined, no filler all killer device that’s improved on its predecessor in every way. And with double the amount of RAM and a new BlackBerry OS 5.0, it runs even faster.
That new processing power is packed into a noticeably smaller, sleeker body though. It feels great in the hand, thanks to its rounded edges and leatherette back, and the smaller keyboard remains as tactile and accurate. Chrome frets separate the rows, with punctuation and number keys intelligently placed for easy access. There are still the two ‘convenience keys’ on the sides, both customisable to launch any program on the phone. Discreet lock and mute keys sit at the top of the device, and double-tapping mute puts it on standby. One of the most obvious tweaks is the trackpad, which replaces the trademark BlackBerry trackball, and it’s incredibly responsive. Light strokes swipe you round the screen, and it also depresses as an ‘OK’ button. We also love the new charger port – it’s now a standard miniUSB.The user interface is slick and straightforward, with all menu options in any function easily brought up by clicking the ‘menu’ button on the front face. There are tons of shortcuts to minimise clicks when using the phone, all handily documented in the Help menu. One major shortcut change that may be controversial among longtime Bold users is that sending a text is now 'caps+enter' versus a simple 'enter'. No more accidental sending of drunken text yes, but a lot of extra clicks for power texters? If there’s one criticism we have, it’s that there isn’t much you can do to customise the home screen. There’s a shortcut bar to add your six most used programs, but otherwise, the home screen real estate is totally unused and the apps available are nowhere near the iPhone or even Android in range and volume. However, the new OS supports BlackBerry Widgets, so perhaps this will change in the future.
The highlight of the Bold 9700 is still its email feature, and that's pretty near perfect. The screen size impedes web browsing and media, and we'd love to see more homescreen customisation, as well as a greater selection of apps, but the Bold 9700 has had a key few surgical tweaks that make it even more of a powerhouse.