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BlackBerry Bold slims down with the 9700

The new version of Research In Motion's flagship BlackBerry Bold smartphone has more flash memory than its predecessor
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1 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

On Wednesday, Research In Motion launched the second iteration of its flagship BlackBerry Bold smartphone.

The Bold 9700 has more memory than its predecessor, the Bold 9000. It is also noticeably smaller and lighter.

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2 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 was developed at RIM's research and development facility in Bochum, Germany, where the handset was launched.

The Bochum facility was established at the Ruhr University a year ago. It employs around 200 staff, and on Wednesday RIM chief executive Mike Lazaridis said, "The hope is to get that up to around 500 people, over time".

"They put their first product out in under a year," Lazaridis said in a briefing session. "The two teams shifted their hours so they could work together." The other research team is based at RIM's facilities in Waterloo, Ontario.

Lazaridis added that the styling of the Bold 9700 was "very heavily influenced by European design".

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3 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

Whereas the first Bold used a trackball, the 9700 uses a trackpad.

According to Lazaridis, RIM's move towards trackpads is a response to user demand for "gesture-based user interfaces".

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4 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

The Bold 9700 includes a 3.5mm headphone jack.

It also has 256MB of flash memory and a 624MHz processor. Expandable storage is supported via microSD card.

The smartphone measures 109mm x 60mm x 14.1mm and weighs 122g. The earlier Bold 9000 measured 114mm x 66mm x 14mm and weighed 133g.

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5 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

The device uses a 2.44-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels — slightly higher than the 480 x 320-pixel resolution of the Bold 9000. The earlier Bold, however, had a slightly larger screen that measured 2.6 inches.

The new Bold also uses BlackBerry OS 5.0, making it the second handset after the Storm 2 — launched last week — to do so.

Connectivity options include 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, 3.6Mbps HSDPA, GPS and Bluetooth 2.1.

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6 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

The Bold 9700 has a 1500mAh battery.

According to RIM, the battery will support around six hours of talk time and 17 days of standby time in 3G mode.

The handset has a 3.2 megapixel camera

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7 of 7 David Meyer/ZDNet

Lazaridis also showed off the Bold 9700's circuit board at the briefing, pointing out that it was designed at RIM's Bochum facility.

The quad-band HSPDA to GSM radios, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS circuitry are at the bottom of the board, with CPU and memory in the middle and audio/vibrator and power controllers up top. The silvery-gold racetracks around each cluster of chips are designed to solder to metal shields that electrically isolate each function.

One of the major design challenges for handset makers is avoiding mutual interference between so many sensitive functions and so many transmitters in such a small space.

Rupert Goodwins of ZDNet UK contributed to this report.

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