Hands On With BlackBerry Bold (BlackBerry 9000)
RIM announced the new quad-band BlackBerry Bold bright and early this morning. Two words: it rocks. Like the two latest 8330 Curves on Verizon Wireless and Sprint, it’s 3G. This time around, however, it’s an HSDPA 3G phone with built-in 802.11a/b/g support. AT&T fans can cheer now. Suave Looks The large full QWERTY keypad reminds us a lot of the 8800 series, with its ridged keys spaced closer together than on the Curve. Like its slick user-interface, the whole device has a black, red, and white theme. Pretty James-Bondish if you ask me. Most of the phone is black, including the keypad which has white lettering, and red lighted accents. A silver border runs around the phone. The rear has an awesome fake leather surface to it (We originally thought it was real), and you can swap it out for different colored leathers. Mike Lazaridis, RIM CEO, told us that the “front is for business, and the back is for the evening.” Kind of like a mullet. We can’t help but agree, the Bold is straight up classy. Sleek OS When you turn Bold on, the first difference you’ll noticed is the new OS 4.6, a clean revamp to the old OS, but quite similar. Our device looked like it had the Zen theme going, and the black background contrasts well with each icon, which highlights when selected. It’s quite minimal too. The cartoony colors are replaced with a red, black, and white theme. BlackBerry Bold’s High-Res Display RIM really packed the heat, too. The 2.8-inch glass LCD has a 480 x 320 resolution which looked super crisp in our hands-on. When we watched a trailer for Speed Racer; there was no motion blur and Christina Ricci’s red gloves popped. Performance The days of a lagging BlackBerry seem to be a thing of the past; all of the applications were speedy thanks to the 624MHz Marvell Tavor processor with full MMX support. That’s twice the speed of the 312MHz found in today’s models, and, *cough* 4MHz faster than the iPhone’s ARM processor *cough*. Storage Options on the BlackBerry Bold Onboard storage is up to 128MB of flash memory with an added 1GB of onboard storage. That’s up from the previous breadwinner Curve 8330 that packed a rawboned 96MB. Most models had 64MB. RIM realized the importance of a side-loading microSD slot and it carried over the feature found only in the latest Pearls to the Bold. Camera The camera remains at 2MP with a flash. We love how crisp images look on the display, and noticed there was hardly any discoloration in the images: they looked true to life on screen. We didn’t have a chance to port the photos over to a computer to check them out full-sized, though. Bold Sound The speakers sounded improved, not that we’ve complained about BlackBerry speakers in the past, but they’re noticeably more crisp. Perhaps that’s due to the included 11-preset equalizer. GPS BlackBerry Maps has better rendering too, making this GPS phone even more powerful than previous iterations. RIM claims it will download maps at faster speeds, and allow you to navigate using the map even while you’re on a phone. Probably not a good idea while you’re driving. Bundled Software The Bold also has DataViz Documents to Go suite preloaded, which means you can open and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the go. We checked out PowerPoint and saw the slides load quickly, with images. Other software enhancements include support for BlackBerry Unite! software for SOHO and home users. Support for IBM Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange, and Novell GroupWise remain. E-mail is revamped. Instead of seeing links to images embedded into e-mails, they actually load now. Battery Life RIM is rating the new battery life with 5 hours of talk time and 13 days of standby. It uses a 1500mAh battery, but the talktime is rated over a GSM network. We imagine surfing the Net using a 3G connection will pull the battery life down. We’ll have a review unit in-house shortly. Right now we’re just waiting for the carrier announcement here in the United States. And seeing that AT&T has pretty much liquidated its line of BlackBerrys with non-stop sales recently, and that the Bold is an HSDPA phone, and that T-Mobile’s 3G network isn’t yet nationwide, it looks like it’s going to AT&T.