BlackBerry Bold in-depth review -

Look and feel

It's large, but it still manages to maintain a great look and feel. The half VGA screen simply sparkles on board the matt black body with chrome bumpers and leatherette upholstery.

Ease of use

RIM has improved the user interface by having bolder menu icons, and the manufacturer has maintained the excellent BlackBerry trackball.

Features

The Bold is the first BlackBerry device to feature HSDPA internet speeds, and also boasts A-GPS, Wi-Fi and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Performance

Surfing the net on either HSDPA or Wi-Fi proves to be a nippy experience, and RIM has upheld its tradition of producing excellent messaging devices. The two-megapixel camera is disappointing, although all your navigating needs are met with the on-board A-GPS.

Battery life

An average talktime of 300 minutes and 310 hours' standby.

 BlackBerry Bold Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:53:01 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

10

out of 5

Ease of use

10

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

The BlackBerry Bold boasts a fabulous feature set, including HSDPA and A-GPS.

Cons:

It?s not exactly pocket friendly.

It seems that no business phone wants to be just a business phone anymore. Take RIM's new BlackBerry Bold, for example. Here we have a bulky smartphone that's better suited to a briefcase or handbag than a pocket, with a full QWERTY keyboard, a large display, a robust rear casing and push-email; characteristics that ordinarily scream: ‘business device'.

However, RIM is keen to position the Bold as a phone with consumer kudos as well as business appeal - a marketing tactic also employed by Nokia and HTC with their recent smartphones. So, is this move to target those precious ‘prosumers' simply wishful thinking? The truth is that it comes down to size. If you're happy with a larger phone to enjoy a fabulous smartphone experience, the Bold will almost certainly tick all the boxes. If you're not, you may want to look elsewhere.

BlackBerry Bold - Sleek look and feel

Although the BlackBerry Bold is larger and heavier than the majority of mobiles, with its QWERTY thumbpad dominating the lower fascia, it still looks every inch the BlackBerry. Despite its size, it's really rather swish looking. With its matt black body and chrome bumpers and leatherette upholstery on the rear, you could describe the BlackBerry Bold as the Bentley Continental of smartphones.

 

However, even with its deluxe chassis and trim, the most striking aesthetic aspect of the Bold is arguably the excellent screen. The quality of a mobile phone display is determined primarily by the screen resolution and the BlackBerry Bold possesses a half VGA screen (480x320 pixels), which is as sharp as a Savile Row dandy.

 

RIM has also dramatically improved the user interface by adopting bolder new menu icons designed to reflect the phone's curvy design and colouring, together with rich screen backgrounds.

In home screen mode, you get six shortcut menu options that sit at the bottom of the screen, which provide one-click access to often-used features like keyboard lock, messaging, contacts, calendar, browsing and maps. To access the Bold's full menu list, you click the BlackBerry menu soft key. There's no touch-screen on the Bold, but you do get the excellent BlackBerry trackball, a mainstay on all new RIM devices, which takes you whizzing around the 30 available menu options in double-quick time.

BlackBerry Bold - Faster internet speeds

Talking of nippy, the Bold is the first BlackBerry to offer HSDPA data speeds (you also get Wi-Fi), which makes a huge difference to the web browsing experience. We have always been big fans of the Pearl and Curve handsets, but found the web browsing a real drag. Thankfully, that's no longer an issue with the Bold, and it keeps you abreast with the loading speed of a webpage with a blue bar at the bottom of the screen.

When online, the device gives you the option of viewing a full HTML webpage as you would on a full desktop screen, or you can opt for a mobile-friendly version where the content is modified to improve the experience on the phone. Although the Bold offers an excellent screen that's as good as any we've experienced on a smartphone, we'd still recommend the adapted version for a more fluent experience.

 

As for navigating around websites, the trackball is also used to mimic the movements of a mouse. You can use it to navigate sites in ‘page view' or ‘column view' and to easily zoom in and out of content.

BlackBerry Bold - Business and pleasure

While the business appeal is obvious, if the BlackBerry Bold does appeal to consumers, it will do so through its camera, media player, music and games.

 

We're a little disappointed that the Bold's camera can only snap photos with a maximum resolution of two megapixels, because otherwise it's a very capable camera. It's fast, with almost no shutter lag, and the built-in automatic flash is pretty decent.

 

On the downside, there's no obvious means to control the camera settings beyond the trackball. This is fine for zooming in and out of images, but we had no control over the brightness setting, which seemed to appear and disappear randomly. We'd also like it if the viewfinder, when using both the camera and video camera, occupied more of the screen.

However, you do really get to see the BlackBerry Bold's display in all its glory when you playback videos with the device's video player, which supports various versions of DivX, XiiD, H262, H264 and M4V. On our test device, there were a few pre-loaded videos, including a BlackBerry TV advert, a CGI movie clip and some live footage of jazz vocalist Diana Krall. The quality of the playback was simply stunning and we're confident we could watch a full movie on this phone.

 

As for music, the Bold's media player supports a variety of digital formats, including MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+ and eAAC+. You also have the bonus of a 3.5mm jack port, so you'll be able to plug in your own stereo headphones, although a set of BlackBerry headphones comes in the box.

 

You even get a selection of games on board. There's the BlackBerry favourite, Brickbreaker, which is a paddle, ball and brick game that works perfectly with the Bold's trackball, plus you have a couple of card games in the form of Texas Hold Em Poker and Klondike, as well as two puzzle games, Word Mole and Sudoku.

BlackBerry Bold - Messaging and more

BlackBerry devices are synonymous with mobile messaging and the Bold upholds that tradition with an impressive messaging spec. As well as push-email that's compatible with all the major corporate servers, you also get personal email, the ability to download and send attachments, instant messaging with the BlackBerry Messenger and, of course, SMS and MMS.

 

Everything is easy to set up and use, which is one of the key strengths of the Bold. For example, there are two simple navigation keys - a BlackBerry menu key and a back key, together with the trackball, and that's all you need.

Side mounted keys give you one-click access to key features like camera and voice dialling and everything is intuitive to use and simply presented.

BlackBerry Bold - Overall 

Yes, the device is big and this may put off consumers that insist on a phone that they can trouser without affecting their stride pattern. However, if you are happy to carry your smartphone in a bag, this is a device you won't be embarrassed to whip out on a regular basis.