RIM confirms new BlackBerry Bold 9900 "will be available this summer"

Summary:The new BlackBerry Bold 9900 (and its CDMA counterpart the 9930) with a 2.8" touchscreen and the latest OS 7 are coming to a 4G carrier some time this summer. Will RIM be able to win back some customers with the updated Bold?

It's been a tough couple of months for Research In Motion since BlackBerry World 2011, with product delays that resulted in layoffs, and analysts and the media writing the company off as a has-been. But there seems to be an end to RIM's troubles with the upcoming launch of the BlackBerry Bold 9900. After spotting a working model of a Bold 9900 at the PepCom Digital Experience event in New York City last week, RIM's PR rep confirmed by email that "the product [Bold 9900] will be available this summer."

At first glance, the handset looks just like any BlackBerry, but once I got to hold it in my hand I realized it is slimmer and sleeker than its predecessors, with none of the plastic feel of old, thanks to a streamlined battery door/back cover, brushed stainless steel finish and iPhone 4-like metallic rim. The touchscreen is tiny by today's standards at 2.8? so I had to shorten my swipes to scroll through the UI. But then again users don't get a BlackBerry for its screen. Its beloved keyboard has the familiar layout of a full QWERTY keyboard and includes a optical trackpad for easy navigation.

The Bold 9900 will be one of the first to run the new BlackBerry OS 7, which supports Near Field Communication (NFC) with other NFC devices via the built-in NFC chip, magnetometer (compass), accelerometer (orientation sensor) and proximity sensor for augmented reality applications. It also enables voice-activated search and can record in HD at 720p with the 5 megapixel rear camera, amongst other features.

Technical specs of the Bold 9900 are as follows:

  • Dimensions & Weight: 115 x 66 x 10.5 mm, approximately 130 g
  • Display: 2.8? capacitive touch screen display – VGA (640×480), 287 PPI resolution (Liquid Graphics)
  • Input: Full, wide QWERTY keyboard, optical trackpad
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Processor, 768 MB RAM
  • Internal Storage: 8 GB on-board memory, plus microSD slot supporting up to 32 GB cards
  • Camera/Camcorder: 5.0 MP camera with flash, supports 720p HD video recording
  • Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), Digital Compass (Magnetometer), Proximity Sensor
  • Built-in GPS / aGPS
  • Connectivity: Dual-Band Wi-Fi® – 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4 GHz and 802.11 a/n at 5 GHz; Bluetooth 2.1+EDR support, microUSB, NFC
  • Battery: 1230 mAh removable, rechargeable battery
  • Radio: Quad-band GSM (3G)/UMTS (4G), Tri-band HSPA+

Although no U.S. carrier has been announced yet for the Bold 9900, seeing as this model is designed for the GSM/HSPA+ (3G/4G) network, only AT&T and T-Mobile could realistically offer this phone in America (their proposed merger has not been approved yet at the time of this writing). An early ZDNet photo gallery showing the Bold 9900 had the T-Mobile stamp but this most recent batch of press images I received from RIM's PR rep show the handset as unbranded. BlackBerry fans on Sprint and Verizon can look forward to the Bold 9930, which is basically a clone of the 9900 except it has a CDMA/EVDO Rev A radio. Prices have not been announced either but more information should be forthcoming as the actual ship date nears.

[Source: RIM Press Room, official BlackBerry blog, Engadget]

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Topics: Hardware, BlackBerry, Mobile OS, Mobility

About

Gloria Sin is a New York-based freelance journalist who writes about the tech toys that you can't live without for ZDNet. She has little patience for poorly designed user experiences, and is not afraid of opening the guts of her own machines for repair or hacking her gadgets for new uses.She has written for FastCompany.com, Popular Scienc... Full Bio

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