BlackBerry Bold 9900 (Bold 5) Review


We take a closer look at BlackBerry’s first touchscreen Bold also known as Bold 5.

Bold 9900

The latest edition to BlackBerry’s best-selling Bold line of smartphones, featuring a touchscreen and full QWERTY keyboard.

Review:

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is one classy phone. It’s the mobile equivalent of a handsome chap in a sharp suit, emailing his way through a power lunch in the Big Smoke. But just because it’s the phone of choice for movers and shakers, that doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play with the Bold 9900. This is a phone that delivers a large side order of pleasure with its business main course.

Bold 9900

There’s 5Mp snapper round the back but no front facing camera

 

RIM claims the Bold 9900 is their thinnest BlackBerry yet, and it does seem notably trimmer than previous models, although it still has a satisfyingly solid feel in the hand.

The curved casing is trimmed with brushed stainless steel, and the front of the handset split almost equally between the 2.8-inch touchscreen and standard BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. A U-shaped panel inset inside the back casing snaps off relatively easily to reveal the battery, SIM card holder and memory card, and also protects the unobtrusive 5MP camera and LED flash.

Bold 9900

More of the same, but faster?

The screen itself is the best we’ve yet seen on a BlackBerry device, bright and sharp, with just enough real estate to show off the new BlackBerry operating system, OS 7.

Touch-wise it’s perfectly responsive, though people cursed with sausage fingers may struggle with the small touch area used to flick between app and folder drawers (favourite apps, recently downloaded, etc.) The new operating system is no great leap forward from the previous one, but once you get used to alternating between the keyboard and touchscreen, the wealth of shortcuts – for example, touching a photo to reveal numerous sharing, wallpaper and editing options – makes for a snappy user experience.

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The Bold 9900’s screen makes browsing the web on a BlackBerry a much more enjoyable experience too, though text and desktop versions of sites might still require some squinting if you’re used to a bigger smartphone display. The improved horsepower of the Bold 9900 mean pages load quicker too, and pinch-zooming is more smooth and responsive.

Push email, always the Blackberry’s strongest suit, is unsurprisingly brilliant, with message text particularly crisp on the new screen. The phone is a solid social networking device too, with decent – although still slightly bland-looking – apps for Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

The updated Social Feeds (2.0) app has been extended to capture updates from media, podcasts and social networks all-in-one, which will help social butterflies, keep on top of their social life, and BlackBerry Messenger is now more tightly integrated with to other services and apps.

The 5MP snapper seems a bit outdated compared to the rest of the features on this handset, although video can be captured in 720p HD at least. The phone does impress as an MP3 player however.

The in-built speaker is superb for its size, and the music player app bundled with the phone also does an admirable job of spinning your favorite tunes with minimal fuss. The sturdy volume buttons on the top right hand side of the handset, and small pause button between them, are another example of the quality feel RIM have achieved.

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is also one of the first handsets to feature Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, which could open up a wealth of new payment options and other exciting possibilities in future.

Verdict

Our criticisms of the Bold 9900 are few. We found the four buttons beneath the screen (call, menu, back and terminate call) slightly redundant in light of the touchscreen options; reducing them in size, or replacing them with touch responsive equivalents, might have granted our other wish for the phone: a bigger screen. However, neither issue detracts overly from this superb handset.

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