By December 7, 2009

BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review

Also being called the Bold2 the Blackberry Bold 9700 is the new version of the original Bold 9000. Although there are not too many major software changes there are a few hard wear ones. Is the 9700 an improvement?

 

Blackberry Bold 9700 Review

Blackberry Bold 9700

What’s in the box:

  • Device
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Headphones
  • Case
  • Software/Manual

See also at Matt’s Blackberry Bold 9700 unboxing video – a closer look at the hardwear and a tour of the UI.

The ten second review:

Device: Blackberry Bold 9700

Price: £396.75

Summary: A hardcore messaging device that does pretty much the works.

Best of: Keyboard, Wi-Fi, 3G.

Worst of: Web Browser.

Buy it now from: Clove Technology

Blackberry Bold 9700 Specification:

  • Memory – ROM:  256MB / RAM: 128MB
  • Display – High resolution 480×360 pixel, Transmissitive TFT LCD, 2.44″ (diagonally measured)
  • Network – 2G: 850/900/1800/1900 (Quad-Band) / 3G: 850/1900/2100 (Tri-Band)
  • HSDPA (3.6Mbps)
  • microUSB
  • 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • Bluetooth (2.1)
  • Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11g)
  • 35 key backlit QWERTY keyboard
  • Trackpad – Located on front face of device, ESC Key to the right, Menu to the left
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS
  • Includes BlackBerry Maps
  • MicroSDHC
  • 3.2 mega-pixels (auto-focus)
  • LED Flash
  • Image Stabilization
  • Video: 30fps Video Recording (480 x 352)
  • Talk Time – Up to 6 hours (GSM), Up to 6 hours (UMTS)
  • Standby Time – Up to 19 days/456 hours (GSM), Up to 15 days/360 hours (UMTS)
  • Battery – 1500 mAh Removable/rechargeable Cryptographic Lithium cell
  • Dimensions – 109 x 60 x 14.1mm (4.29 x 2.36 x .56 inches)
  • Weight – 122g with battery

 

General:

 

The top of the Blackberry 9700 appears to have no buttons but there are actually two. The first locks the device and the second puts it into standby mode.

Top

Blackberry Bold 9700 top

 

The bottom also appears to have no buttons and that’s because there are not any! Both the top and bottom are extremely smooth.

Bottom

Blackberry Bold 9700 bottom

 

Housed on the left side of the device is the 3.5mm headset jack, a shortcut button and the microUSB port. This shortcut button is preset for voice dialling.

Left

Blackberry Bold 9700 left side

 

On the right side is another shortcut button. This one is preset as the camera button. There is also an up/down volume rocker.

Right

Blackberry Bold 9700 Right side

 

The rear of the handset contains the camera lens and flash. You can also see the nice leather battery cover with the Blackberry logo on it.

Back

Blackberry Bold 9700 rear

 

And of course the front of the device houses the full QWERTY keyboard, send/end keys, a back button and a Blackberry menu button

Front

Blackberry Bold 9700 front

 

 

Highlights:

  • 3G/Wi-Fi
  • QWERTY Keyboard
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • Multiple push email accounts
  • Optical Track Pad

Lowlights:

  • Web Browser
  • Cheap looking supplied headphones

 

 

 

Review:

 

Straight out of the box I was amazed at what a nice looking device the Blackberry Bold 9700 is. The combination of jet black plastic and shiny metal give the Bold 9700 a really sweet look. Like the original Bold 9000, the 9700 has inherited the leather battery cover which helps give it a luxurious feel.

The device is fairly lightweight but doesn’t feel as robust as some other handsets. Only time will tell if the 9700 can withstand heavy daily usage.

The Blackberry Bold 9700 is a few millimetres smaller in both height and width compared to the 9000. Thickness is the same but this new Bold really feels a lot smaller. Its now about the same size as the Blackberry Curves. The one concern I did have prior to receiving the Bold 9700 was that this reduction in size may make typing a little harder. I was wrong. The keys on the 9700 are the same design as on the 9000 which in my opinion are a lot better than on the Curve models. I have never owned a Blackberry myself and have only reviewed one, the 8520, and I can honestly say I took to typing on the 9700 like a duck to water. I do prefer a hard keyboard over an onscreen one and I instantly found myself getting as few errors as I do on my HTC Touch Pro2. I was most impressed.

The other major difference between the original Bold and the new 9700 is that RIM have replaced the trackball with a optical track pad. This is the same as I used on the 8520 and a real joy to use. I have played with friends Blackberries which have the trackball and I found the new track pad to be better to use in every way. Hopefully this will now stop millions of Blackberry users complaining that their trackball has stopped working as they are prone to getting dust and debris inside them. This new move by RIM is fantastic and I would imagine the trackball is now history.

As you would imagine the track pad can have its sensitivity altered. This will allow you the choice of speed that it moves. I did test it out on its highest setting but it was way to fast and totally uncontrollable!

 

Messaging has to be the main reason that people use a Blackberry. This was my first time setting up email on a Blackberry and after the nice people at Orange gave me a few tips I was off to a flying start. It could not have been much easier to be honest. It was just a case of registering the device and then inputting the email account details onto the Orange Blackberry site and that was it. The accounts appeared on the Blackberry. Now, the beauty of the Blackberry is you can have multiple push email accounts which I think makes it unique and it works perfectly.

 

So lets see what else is different compared to the 9700s daddy. Well the screen is obviously smaller but of a better resolution . This time 480 x 360. It looks pretty sharp. We have lost some internal storage though, which is a shame. The Bold 9000 came with 1GB but now we are down to 256mb on the 9700.

The camera has been upgraded to 3.2 mp with auto focus but I will cover that in more depth later in the review.

Apart from the above, I think the features are more of less the same but now in a new shell. I am most defiantly not a Blackberry expert so I may be missing a few things!

 

In terms of performance in all other areas I have been really pleased with the Blackberry Bold 9700. I have been using the device as my primary handset for nearly a week now and I have become addicted!

As a phone the 9700 does a great job. Accessing contacts is simple. Just start typing their name and up they pop. Getting contacts onto the phone was easy for me. As I use Microsoft Outlook I set the Blackberry desktop software to sync with Outlook so in a matter of minutes all my contacts were on the handset. Perfect!

The calendar on the Blackberry is also nice and easy to use and this again syncs with Outlook, making the transition to using Blackberry as simple as can be.

One thing on all Blackberries that has never been great is web browsing and this is the one main area that I feel let down. Coming from a big touch screen device I knew that using the browser would be “pants” but its not been as bad as I thought it would be. Of course compared to handsets like the iPhone, HTC HD2 and the Samsung Omnia2 its totally rubbish but I think you need to decide what is of most importance to you when thinking of switching to a Blackberry. If you are constantly browsing or using your phone as an in-car satnav then a Blackberry is probably not right for you (apart from the Storm or Storm2). If messaging is what you do most then this could be the device you need.

Connectivity on the Blackberry Bold 9700 is great. Its a 3G device and also has Wi-Fi. I think this is what will get a tonne of Blackberry Curve users switching to the Bold2 as none of the Curve models were 3G. God knows why but at least now there is a solution.

I have managed okay with the browser. To be honest I have not spent as much time browsing as I did on my touch screen phone but I can do pretty much everything on the Blackberry that I could do before. The downside is that the screen is not as big and if you need to zoom in you will find yourself scrolling left and right just to read a sentence. But as I said before it was better than I thought it was going to be.

If social networking is your thing then you will be pleased to know that Blackberry is pretty good when it comes to that sort of thing. There are some fantastic apps to help you stay in touch with your buddies.

Facebook has to be the top one at the moment and the Blackberry Facebook app is not bad. Compared to the windows version I would say its better as it keeps up to date. I found the windows one lagging behind a lot. As well as seeing your friends status updates you can also see news feeds, photos and links. Uploading photos to the app is also dead easy and its an all round decent application.

Like on most operating systems there are numerous Twitter apps and Blackberry is no different. I found Ubertwitter to be the best one and it worked faultlessly.

I’m not a massive Twitter user but tweeting from the Blackberry was easy-peasy.

I also installed Windows Live Messenger as Matt and I use it all day to communicate and I also found a good Facebook chat app so I could IM my Facebook buddies.

 

One of the first things you need to do when you have your new Blackberry is download Blackberry App World. Although its not on par with Apples iPhone app store its not bad. There is some decent stuff in there and the prices are reasonable. Of course there are loads of free apps as well . Its easy to navigate round App World and you are given a lot of info about the apps before you download, including screen shots. The graphics are not great for gaming but you must remember that a Blackberry is primarily a messaging device.

 

Media on the Blackberry Bold 9700 is taken care of nicely. I put a few movies onto my MicroSD card and they played straight away. Although not the biggest screen viewing is possible thanks to it being so crisp and bright.

Viewing photos was fine and dandy. With the vibrant screen the pictures look fantastic. A simple swipe of the optical track pad moves pictures left or right so you can either view all pictures in a grid or just view full screen and scroll smoothly to the one you want. Nice.

The 9700 has a built in music player and the quality it produced was surprisingly good. Using the external speaker the music was loud but not of great quality. Using the supplied headphones made things a lot better although they don’t feel the best made bit of kit. Once I plugged in my own JVC headphones (which only cost about £12.00) Guns N Roses rocked! The quality was super good and after I found the equaliser and turned up the bass I was rocking my socks off. If you listen to music you will be more than pleased with the results the Bold 9700 produces.

 

With built in A-GPS you wont be getting lost with the Bold 9700. It comes pre-installed with Blackberry Maps which is much the same concept as Google Maps. I also tried Nav4All which is a turn by turn navigation tool and it worked perfectly. Its never going to replace a stand alone satnav but for those times you are out and about on foot it will certainly come in handy.

 

No one is every going to buy the Blackberry Bold 9700 for its camera but it actually does a good job. At 3.2mp its not going to produce the best pictures in the world but the powerful LED flash helps a lot. Certainly does a better job than the camera on the Bold 9000. The camera interface is dead simple and fool proof really.

 

 

Conclusion:

So is the Bold 9700 an improvement over the 9000. I should say so. As long as web browsing is not what you do most and you like a QWERTY keyboard then the Blackberry Bold 9700 is in my opinion a fantastic phone well worthy of its price, although in time I am sure most carriers will supply it free on contract.

I liked it so much that this review device is not going back. I have dipped my hand into my pocket and I am keeping it. We cant bare to be parted!

I never thought this would happen as I am a big Windows Mobile fan but the Blackberry Bold 9700 just does everything well and its so easy and quick.

I have also just upgraded my girlfriends phone and she now has a Bold 9700 coming!

Good job RIM. Lets see if the Storm2 is as much of an improvement as the Bold2 is?

 

Posted by: James

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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