Still hot on the shelves for this winter holiday's shopping, Blackberry Bold 9700 features the same elegant business aspect, but fails to impress more than its predecessors. Considered as the right disciple of the older Bold 9000 smartphone, the new 9700 presents itself with little to none improvements.PureMobile
offered us the chance to test the device and share our thoughts with you. Just like its 9000 predecessor, Bold 9700 boasts a full QWERTY keyboard and a nice leather-like material. BlackBerry Bold 9700 is obviously a business-oriented smartphone that intends to offer its users, above all else, a complete email solution, sadly some of the related features are limited by the Blackberry Internet Service.
Announced in October 2009, BlackBerry Bold 9700
hit the shelves pretty soon in November 2009. Obviously, as a business-oriented smartphone, there's only one color available for this product, black. Blackberry Bold 9700
can be acquired for about 500-550 USD unlocked and without any plan.Design
If you are already used to Blackberry devices, the fresh Bold 9700 will not feel like a new device at all. RIM kept the same shape and design as always, the minor differences compared to its Bold 9000 predecessor keeping it as "common" as possible. For people that have never used a Blackberry device, as well as for the fans, Bold 9700 might look like the perfect business phone. As a matter fact, the most important aspect is undoubtedly the QWERTY keypad. It's got the same layout as its Bold predecessor, with 35 key placed in four rows. At first glance, the keys may look a little bit overcrowded, but RIM found a way to make them more responsive, by putting some edges on each. This made the keys pretty easy to click, even if you have big thumbs, and limit the number of typos, as well as improving the texting process speed.
Blackberry Bold 9700 measures 109 x 60 x 14 mm and weighs 122g (including battery), which makes it pretty balanced. The back of the phone has been covered with a leather-like material that offers users a better grip over the device. Sadly, the material doesn't cover the entire back of the gadget, only the hood covering the battery. The nice display of the smartphone has been a little bit shrunk compared to its Bold 9000 brother, and now measures only 2.44-inch. Between the TFT screen and the QWERTY keypad, you will notice four useful keys: Accept and End keys, Menu key and Back key. One of the minor changes that I found is the replacement of the usual trackball with a touch-sensitive optical trackpad.
The latter works like a charm and successfully replaces the trackball. On the right side of the smartphone, there are a small dual volume key and a dedicated camera button. The left side of the device features a 3.5mm port jack, a microUSB port and a Voice Dialing button. On top, there are two hidden buttons that can Lock/Unlock the phone and Mute it. The 3.2 Megapixel camera on the back features autofocus and LED flash. Unfortunately, the camera is not protected by anything, so it might be subjected to scratches.
As always, classy is the closest term that I can use to define the look of a Blackberry device. Even though you won't notice too many differences between the two Bold smartphones, after using it for a while, I find that Bold 9700's construction is a little bit sturdier and more reliable than its brother's. It is definitely a worthy disciple of Bold 9000 in terms of look and design.Display and Camera
Blackberry Bold 9700 features a 2.44-inch display, supporting 65k colors and a 480x360 pixel resolution. The medium-sized screen does its job very well. Just wide enough to provide a smooth Web browsing experience, with excellent brightness, vivid colors and very good contrast, the screen is perfectly visible in strong sunlight, which has become quite a standard for Blackberries lately. The two themes included with the operating system make the phone's interface even more appealing. Overall, the quality image is quite high for a Blackberry business device.
The first upgrade from the older Bold 9000 is clearly the 3.2 Megapixel camera. Still, this isn't making the phone much better, as the quality of the pictures is far from what I expected. I won't make any drama of it anyway, as this is a purely business phone, which will most likely shoot documents instead of panoramas. The camera also features LED flash and autofocus, another nice upgrade.
Colors are not vivid and bright, which means the contrast is low. If necessary, you can take decent pictures with the phone, but don't expect miracles. The interface of the camera is very basic and intuitive. You don't have too many options to use that would somewhat change the quality of the pictures, except for White balance and Effects.
The 3.2 Megapixel camera is there just so people won't complain that the handset lacks one. The dedicated camera key is also a nice addition, which means you won't need to keep using the touch-sensitive trackpad to take pictures. Not that it's not easy, but you won't be able to use the autofocus capabilities of the camera. Clips can also be recorded using a maximum resolution of 480x360pixels, but these have mediocre quality.Menu and Software
Blackberry Bold 9700 runs Blackberry 5.0 operating system, platform 184.108.40.206. This is the latest OS from Blackberry, but if you have an older one, you won't notice too many differences. The interface of the smartphone hasn't changed and if you already own one of RIM's devices, this won't come up with anything new in terms of productivity tools.
The same look of the interface, which is, of course, eye-candy on the surface but bland when you browse more in menus. The colors of the icons you'll find in the main menu are softly lighted in contrast with the dark background, and make a very good impression on the user.
The usual Office package, called Documents To Go, developed by DataViz, is also included in Bold's operating system. The phonebook can store an unlimited number of contacts, as long as your available memory allows it. Each contact can be filled with multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, birthday and anniversary information, a picture and a slot for both work and home addresses.
There are also some games that you can play when you're bored: BrickBreaker, WordMole, Texas Hold'em King 2, Sudoku, Klondike. Of course, there's always the possibility to add more software, Blackberry or Java compatible.Communication
Blackberry 9700 features a wide range of communication packages, such as: HSDPA 3.6 Mbps, Wi-Fi, EDGE and GPRS class 10. Fans of the brand can now benefit from any of the above mentioned connections when needed. The integrated browser seems to have been upgraded, as now it is by far the best you can get on a Blackberry device. It works flawlessly, loads pages rich in graphics pretty fast, while panning and zooming are excellent. Use of the touch-sensitive trackpad to control the cursor proved to be wonderful.
In terms of messaging, Bold 9700 features the standard Blackberry package. Should you either want multiple emails or instant messaging, this smartphone has it all. Unfortunately, you will be limited to BlackBerry Internet Service email accounts on the Bold. The same goes for the instant messaging application, which only features a proprietary BlackBerry service. Furthermore, to fully integrate the BlackBerry into a company's system, the installation of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is required. Synchronizing the smartphone with the PC can be made very easily with the Blackberry Desktop Manager. The transfer is very fast, should you either be syncing emails and messages or simply filling your smartphone with music files.
If that is still not enough for you, then note that Bold 9700 also has a built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support and BlackBerry Maps. The GPS module works perfectly and completes the technical features of a smartphone that has all the BB fans wanted included in a single device.
Blackberry Bold 9700 is a quad-band GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) and tri-band HSDPA (850 / 1900 / 2100 or 1700 / 2100 / 900) smartphone, which features GPRS, EDGE, and HSDPA. Other connectivity tools include Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and the microUSB for PC synchronization (charging too). The call quality is good enough, but not impressive. The GSM signal is very good on the EDGE network, as well as on WCDMA.Processor and Memory
Blackberry Bold 9700 is powered by a single Intel XScale 624MHz CPU, which makes it one of the fastest BlackBerries up to date. While modern Blackberries incorporate ARM9-family processors, some also come with ARM7 CPUs on board, which are a little bit slower. Unfortunately, this is showing especially when browsing the menu, using multiple applications and especially when 3G connectivity is used. I haven't really experienced any lockdowns or freezes when opening multiple apps. Overall, there are some hiccups, but nothing that should worry you too much.
The smartphone embeds 256MB user free internal storage memory and 128 MB Flash memory, which makes data processing much faster. Storage space can be expanded up to 16GB through the hot-swappable microSD slot card. The sales package contains a 2GB microSD card, depending on the location.Multimedia
Compared to Bold 9000, the new 9700 model has seen some improvements when it comes to multimedia features. The built-in music player supports album art features and two separate Equalizers for headphones or loudspeaker. It supports MP3/WMA/AAC+ music files, which can be sorted by Artist, Albums and Genre.
Users will be able to make their own playlists within seconds. Furthermore, even if these are only basic features, I was surprised to find out that the quality of the sound was pretty high, especially when using your own headphones. Thanks to the 3.5mm port, you can now change the included headphones, which are not that bad.
The music player can be minimized to the background and listening to music through the stereo Bluetooth feature is also possible. The external speaker is very loud and pretty clear, and with the presence of an Equalizer, music will sound pretty good.
The integrated video player supports files such as DivX, WMV, XviD and 3gp. Even though it has a rather small screen size, movie playback was awesome for a Blackberry device.
Overall, multimedia features are surprisingly good for a business phone, especially for a Blackberry.Battery
The 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery has an officially stated life expectancy of 408 hours in standby, and of about six hours in talk-time mode. Our test unit made it for about five days at medium use. Heavy users will need daily charging or two to three charges per week. The autonomy is pretty acceptable for a Blackberry owner that only uses the specific Blackberry services, namely messaging capabilities.Impressions
Blackberry Bold 9700 is supposed to be the latest smartphone coming from RIM, but the fact that it doesn't impress on any aspect puts a question mark on BB's management. Moreover, the leap from Blackberry 4.x version to 5.0 has been almost unnoticeable in terms of design and utility tools. Nothing changed too much, apart from some tweaks and upgrades that have long ago been included by the rest of the smartphone manufacturers. Still, let's not forget that Blackberry sells its services and that the devices are only the means to get that services, so I do not wonder why RIM doesn't come up with something new. Overall, a well built device that shows class, as expected.The Good
The small upgrades done are some of the best highlights of the smartphone as well: best browser integrated in a BB device, QWERTY keyboard, touch-sensitive optical trackpad, DivX and Xvid support, 3.5mm port jack, great multimedia features (sound and video), Wi-Fi, GPS and HSDPA connectivity. Furthermore, the build quality needs to be taken into consideration, plus the decent battery life.The Bad
One thing I was disappointed with was the mediocre camera, even though I had expected that. Also, the addition of an FM radio feature would have been great. A larger screen and built-in compass would have been welcomed as well. Sales Package
Blackberry 9700 Bold smartphone
Standard battery 1500 mAh Li-Ion
Blackberry Premium 3.5mm Stereo Headset
AC Travel charger
USB data cable
2GB microSD memory card
Sync software CD-ROM.