BLACKBERRY BOLD 9700 REVIEW
It sometimes feels a little futile reviewing Blackberry phones, as there seems little new to say about them. However, with the rise of competing smartphones, Blackberry’s recent domination of the mobile phone market could be coming under serious threat. A lot is riding on the Blackberry 9700 then, and unsurprisingly, Blackberry have produced another high-end top-quality phone.
Look and Feel
On the first look, this will seem like your typical Blackberry phone: Slightly chunky, with that big QWERTY keyboard and pretty decent screen size. Until you actually get your hands on it, you won’t appreciate just how much work Blackberry have put in to slim this phone down.
It has had 6mm trimmed off the width, 5mm off the height and it is nearly a whole centimeter thinner than the previous Blackberry Bold. All of these cuts make it a real pleasure to hold, as the solid, nicely weighty feel you woiuld expect from a Blackberry has been retained, giving it a much more high-end and solid feel than its smartphone contemporaries.
The new size doesn’t mean a new look though, and the tried-and-tested Blackberry aesthetic is still there on the Bold 9700. Nothing has been changed because nothing needs to be. The Bold 9700 looks great, and the new slim design makes it even sexier, and could help it to appeal to more than just Blackberryphiles.
The slight redesign has come at a slight cost though, as the QWERTY keyboard on the Bold 9700 is slightly more cramped than on most Blackberrys. If you are used to the expansive Blackberry QWERTY keyboards, the Bold 9700′s may take a little getting used to, but as phone keyboards go, it is still extremely easy to use.
The Bold 9700 definitely feels like Blackberry are trying to keep up with the more competitive smartphone market, but I like the slight redesign a lot. Some people used to Blackberry’s might not be totally happy with it, but equally a lot of people who have never used a Blackberry before might be more drawn to the Bold 9700.
Although lots of people are drawn to the businesslike looks of the Blackberry, it is in the usability and functionality that they really get their supporters. The problem for Blackberry recently has been that the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated business-related apps from other manufacturers has seen their competitive edge get worn away somewhat.
One of the most important things about the Blackberry Bold 9700 is actually unrelated to the phone itself, but instead is the fact that Blackberry have launched an updated version of their Blackberry World. This brings a variety of new features to their app platform, including a wider range of available apps, an increased amount of payment options and a better UI showing popular and new apps.
These improvements won’t see Blackberry World compete with Android or Apple quite yet, but it is a huge step forward and eliminates much of the perceived problems that Blackberry’s just don’t have the app functionality to compete with the latest smartphones. You may not get quite the same experience as you would with Android or Apple, but it the new Blackberry App World should be more than enough to satisfy most people’s needs.
The overall UI of the Blackberry is still pretty sparse, but I don’t think this is a huge problem. Depending on what you want from a phone, the stripped-down offering from Blackberry could be just what you want if you find the fancy latest OS’ distracting and unncecessary. With accessible shortcut buttons and a simple menu system, the UI isn’t pretty but it does the job.
As for all the extras, the latest Bold handset now comes with 3G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, and these both offer speedy web-browsing. However, the web browsing application is a little lightweight, lacking flash support and overall being a little on the underpowered side.
The camera on the Bold is as good as most typical cameraphones. It won’t be why you buy this handset, but it is a nice little cherry to have on top that will adequately capture moments and deliver quality enough for displaying on social networking sites.
The Blackberry Bold 9700 feels very much like a transition phone. It would have been very easy for this phone to fall between the cracks, trying to pander to both Blackberry fans and the burgeoning smartphone market. The slimmer design brings the overall look and feel into line with the contemporary design, but it manages to retain the hugely popular business Blackberry look.
Once you get into using the phone, it delivers everything you would expect from a Blackberry. Battery life is hugely impressive and with an overhaul of their app platform, the application range is good and growing.
The downfall of attempting a few redesigns of the tried-and-tested Blackberry formula is that the more compact keyboard can feel a little fiddly at times, and the areas that haven’t been brought into line with the competition are highlighted. Top of the list is the OS, and although the spartan design will be popular with some, it is feeling a little tired, and if you use a friend’s smartphone you might feel a little short-changed with you Blackberry.