BlackBerry Bold 9700 review -


Review by Sunetra Chakravati, 5/7/2011 10:50:16 AM

10out of 10
8 out of 5
Look and feel
10 out of 5
Ease of use
8 out of 5
8 out of 5
Battery life

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.

Smooth and sleek

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.

Media, web and camera

Webpages load quicker, thanks to a full HTML browser with faster JavaScript and CSS processing, and the trackpad is an excellent contender to touch-screen browsing. Non-mobile sites load as quickly and look the way they do on a desktop, but at 2.44 inches, the screen does impede browsing as you have to do a fair amount of scrolling to see all of a page (when zoomed into readable magnification).

The media player syncs with iTunes and Windows Media player, and we also set up Desktop Manager to auto-update media libraries. The screen isn’t the most generous for movies, but the 480x360 pixel resolution is crisp with great colours. The movie player also stays running in the background, auto-pausing when you switch out. A 3.5mm audio jack rounds out the media specs, and the bundled set of non in-ear headphones was surprisingly decent.

The camera is an improvement too, at 3.2 megapixels with autofocus, flash and video recording, but it’s still fairly mediocre. Images appear just a little over sharpened, and colours aren’t as bright as in real life. The video camera is equally average, though we like the addition of a video light. You can film in black and white, normal and sepia, and it can pick up sound, though you’ll have to make sure it’s pretty loud.

As in the Bold 9000, A-GPS and BlackBerry Maps make for speedy sat nav and email is as full featured as ever. Companies running BlackBerry’s new Enterprise Server 5.0 have more useful features, including follow-up flags, folder management, appointment forwarding and wireless contact sync. Even if you’re not on a corporate server, the Bold 9700 supports push-email for Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL, blowing to pieces that dated image of BlackBerrys as a power banker accessory.


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.