First impressions of the T-Mobile BlackBerry Bold 9700
It was a year ago this month that the RIM BlackBerry Bold was launched and I purchased one from AT&T while on a business trip (see my first impressions). The Bold had the BEST QWERTY keyboard available at that time, but that came at the price of width so the phone was a bit chunky. We now see RIM making some design improvements with the BlackBerry Bold 9700 that is launching first with T-Mobile and AT&T here in the US. I have spent a couple of days with the T-Mobile BlackBerry Bold 9700 and think it may be the best front facing QWERTY BlackBerry device on the market.
It was a year ago this month that the RIM BlackBerry Bold was launched and I purchased one from AT&T while on a business trip (see my first impressions). The Bold had the BEST QWERTY keyboard available at that time, but that came at the price of width so the phone was a bit chunky. We now see RIM making some design improvements with the BlackBerry Bold 9700 that is launching first with T-Mobile and AT&T here in the US. I have spent a couple of days with the T-Mobile BlackBerry Bold 9700, check out my image gallery, and think it may be the best front facing QWERTY BlackBerry device on the market. I was quite impressed with the BB Tour, but the lack of WiFi in today's smartphone market is really unacceptable. The T-Mobile BB Curve 8900 is also an excellent device, but the Bold 9700 adds 3G.
The BlackBerry device I recommended for T-Mobile customers before today was the Curve 8900 and this is still a very good device if 3G is not a need for you on your BlackBerry. Honestly, the BlackBerry browser is not that great and I think people with BB devices are focused on email, which works quite well with just an EDGE connection. The Bold 9700 adds 3G and a bump up to 624 MHz processor with the trackball changed to an optical touchpad, which you may or may not like. There is not much more that RIM can do with these BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard devices, but it is great to finally see a 3G model on T-Mobile.
Specifications: The specifications for the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 include:
* Quad-band GSM/EDGE:1900/1800/900/850 MHz
* Tri-band UMTS: 2100/1700/900 MHz
* BlackBerry OS 5.0
* 624 MHz processor
* 256MB ROM
* microSD card slot with SDHC support (256MB card included)
* QWERTY keyboard and trackball
* Integrated GPS/A-GPS receiver
* 802.11 b/g WiFi with support for T-Mobile UMA service
* Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
* 2.44 inch 480×360 pixels 65k colors display
* 3.2 megapixel camera with flash light and auto focus
* 3.5 mm headset jack
* 1500 mAh battery
The differences between the original BB Bold and BB Bold 9700 are as follows:
* Bold has 1GB internal flash ROM and Bold 9700 has 256MB
* Bold has a/b/g WiFi and Bold 9700 has b/g WiFi
* Bold has a 2 megapixel camera and Bold 9700 has a 3.2 megapixel model
* Bold has a larger 2.75 inch display and Bold 9700 has a 2.44 inch display
* Bold display has a resolution of 480×320 and Bold 9700 has a resolution of 480×360
The original Bold was quite a powerful device, but RIM's ability to make the device a bit more consumer friendly (3.2 megapixel camera and higher resolution screen) and much slimmer should appeal to new BlackBerry owners.
Walk around the hardware
The front of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 is dominated by the QWERTY keyboard and high resolution display. You will also find the trackball has been replaced by an optical trackpad. I was just getting used to and liking the trackball on the BlackBerry devices, but I actually find the trackpad to be quite responsive and usable. I would need to spend lots of time with one of these devices to figure out which navigation method I prefer.
The QWERTY keyboard is the same as the BB Tour, from what I remember, and is quite good. However, I don't like that you have to press the alternate button to enter a @, period, comma, and question mark. The E71 that I have is setup better for these common symbols and I wish RIM would setup their keyboards a bit better.
You will find the 3.5mm headset jack along the upper part of the left side with the microUSB port and left convenience key (setup by default for voice dialing) farther down. The right side is where you will find the volume buttons and right convenience key. These three buttons are all matte black raised bumps that work well.
There is nothing on the bottom and along the top we have the lock and mute functions integrated into the black plastic that rolls up from the front to the top.
The 3.2 megapixel camera and flash light are along the top of the back below the silver frame piece outlining the device. The battery cover is faux leather with the BlackBerry symbol in silver on the upper center part.
The Bold 9700 feels great in your hand and is a solid and comfortable device.
Random thoughts on the Bold 9700
The Bold 9700 is an excellent BlackBerry device and if you are a T-Mobile customer then it really is quite an easy choice to select this device. That said, the BlackBerry units really are optimized for email and am I personally growing a bit tired with their operating system, rather dated Calendar, and and lame Setttings setup.
I do like that T-Mobile doesn't cripple devices with a bunch of junk like AT&T does and the only T-Mobile things I could find were Visual Voicemail and T-Mobile My Account utility.
The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is available starting today on T-Mobile for $199 with a 2-year contract and compatible Even More plan. You can also sign up for a new Even More Plus plan (no contract) and pay $449. If you are satisfied with T-Mobile and have no immediate reason to leave then I don't see the concern with signing up for a contract and saving a few dollars up front, but then again in the end the 2-year cost works out to be about the same with the freedom for you to leave T-Mobile when you want to.