TechPinas Gadget Reviews presents...
Blackberry Bold 9700
Note: As of May 2010, Blackberry Bold 9700 is still the flagship phone of RIM.
Some phones achieve stardom, some have stardom thrust upon them; Blackberry Bold 9700, however, is born a star.
BB Bold 9700, also known as Onyx, is the latest iteration to RIM's highly successful Blackberry Bold line. It follows BB Bold 9000, a handset that greatly helped in catapulting Blackberry to the very top of the mobile phones sales charts in the US. As such, upon its much-anticipated release in 2009, BB Bold 9700 already had HIT plastered all around its small frame. The only thing it needed to do was to actually live up to lofty expectations.
"The BlackBerry Bold 9700 builds on the success of the original BlackBerry Bold with new, state-of-the-art features and a smaller, lighter and highly optimized design that looks, feels and performs great," shares Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO, Research In Motion.
Gregory Wade, Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Research In Motion, follows up,
"Building on the success of the original BlackBerry Bold, we are now pleased to bring the BlackBerry Bold 9700 smartphone to the Philippines. We believe that customers will be extremely impressed with the BlackBerry Bold 9700 smartphone’s exciting new features, exceptional performance and refined design."
BB Bold 9700 has been available in the Philippines since early this year via various post-paid plans by Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. You may also get it via Super Surf Php 1,200 monthly pre-paid plan for Php 28,995.
Design Identity and Form Factor:
In true TechPinas fashion, here are photos of the various panels of the device --
Front panel shows BB Bold 9700's 2.44" 65K-color TFT landscape display with 480 x 360 pixels resolution. The screen is smaller than that of BB Bold 9000's 2.6" screen but it has higher screen resolution (vs. 480 x 320 pixels of BB Bold 9000's screen).
The front panel also shows the trackpad (in lieu of trackball of previous Bold model) and the fretted four-row full QWERTY keyboard.
BB Bold 9700 has dimensions of 109 x 60 x 14 mm and weighs 122 grams -- quite small and light compared to the rather bulky BB Bold 9000.
Left side panel features 3.5mm standard audio jack (topmost), followed by microUSB port (with no flap cover) and convenience key with Voice Commands as default function.
Right side panel shows volume rocker and second convenience key with Camera as default function
The sides of the phone have quite thick chrome accents just like BB Bold 9000 and Blackberry Curve 8900.
Top panel shows Lock and Mute keys masked under the surface.
Rear panel has nothing but the mic pinhole.
Back panel shows the Blackberry Logo with chrome plating. Above that, we have the 3 Megapixel autofocus camera with Image Stabilization and the LED flash. The whole back part has a fingerprint-resistant case while the battery cover has this really nice leather-like finish.
TP Verdict on Design and Form Factor --
Don't let BB Bold 9700's small frame fool you into thinking that its body is not as sturdy as that of Bold model it succeeded; BB Bold 9700 feels just as solid in the hand.
Design-wise, the phone exudes an aura of understated elegance. Chrome accents give the device that sophisticated corporate look while making it and its user look expensive. You won't feel shy at all to bring this phone to round-table meetings and place it on the table for everyone to behold.
Putting aside the fact that I'm terribly spoiled working on sizable slide-out QWERTY keypads like those of Nokia N900, Nokia N97 Mini or Samsung OmniaPRO B7610 and keeping in mind that people who get a Blackberry are actually fans of its candybar-style thumb QWERTY keypad, I'd say that BB Bold 9700's keyboard is one of the best ones I've used on any device in this category. The fretted keys, which are slightly raised in the middle, make typing not only fast but more importantly, accurate.
Surprisingly, despite its diminutive size, Blackberry Bold 9700's trackpad is a joy a work with. It's very responsive and definitely easier to use than both the four-way navigation key and the trackball. You need only swipe your finger on its surface to navigate menus and scroll up and down the screen.
Operating System and Business Features:
When people talk about Blackberry as a good mobile device, they always point to its operating system and business features as top-of-mind reasons. Really, how can one praise a Blackberry unit without mentioning that its OS is easy to use and that its business features meet exactly what's needed by corporate users?
If you're wondering if BB Bold 9700 delivers on this promise, let me tell you, it does.
The phone runs on the new version of RIM's proprietary operating system, Blackberry OS 5.0. Upgrading the nomenclature to 5.0 from 4.6 gives the impression that a lot of changes have been made on the system but really, one can notice very minimal changes in virtually all sections; user interface included. Nothing negative about it though since BB OS 4.6 is actually a very good operating system to begin with.
OS 5.0, just like 4.6, is very easy to use. Expert know-how is absolutely not required to work on its user interface. From the main menu, click on the trackpad (yes, it's clickable) to go to the BB menu grid (photo above), swipe your finger to navigate and click again to open an application. To view app options, click on the Blackberry button located at the left of the trackpad. To return to the main menu, just click on back button 3-4 times or you may just click on the drop call button.
On to business features, BB Bold 9700 dons key additions to the already solid Blackberry Enterprise server. With 9700 you get Exchange e-mail folders, remote file sharing, viewing calendar appointments locally, forwarding appointments to the handset and expanded wireless synchronization for Contacts folders and data. On top of these, BB Bold 9700 ships with Microsoft Office-to-Go, an app that allows you to open and edit files created with Microsoft Office.
Connectivity Options and Browsing Experience:
Blackberry Bold 9700 offers practically all internet connectivity options that you'll ever need on a mobile phone in this day and age. It supports 3G, HSDPA, Wifi, and Bluetooth connection -- allowing you to stay connected all the time.
The device's 624 MHz processor and 256 MB RAM, on the other hand, made sure that webpages load fast; I think the device works flawlessly in this department. The only downside is that the screen is quite small, smaller than BB Bold 9000's at least -- but that's how it is.
BB Bold 9700 has a removable 1500 mAh battery which provides enough power to keep the phone up for an entire day while running quite energy demanding apps and features like surfing the net on wifi. I'd say battery life on the device is above average -- Totally what's to be expected of a device of this calibre.
Photo and Video Quality
Image quality is just alright. Nothing to shout about. Pretty average and exactly what's to be expected from the camera of a business phone.
The same goes for video capture quality:
If you're a corporate user who finds little need for rich multi-media features on your phone, you'd surely find very few reasons not to like BB Bold 9700. Stellar hardware and outstanding Blackberry business services make the phone the device to beat in its category.
However, if you're someone who demands above average image capture and outstanding multi-media playback on your phone, then you might want to look elsewhere -- probably away from all full QWERTY candybar business phones altogether.
In the overview I mentioned that Blackberry Bold 9700 is born a hit and the only thing it needed to do is to meet lofty expectations. If the continued leadership of RIM in US mobile sales charts were an acceptable measure, I'd say BB Bold 9700 achieved that exactly.