RIM’s flagship adds keyboard width and a touchscreen, enticing BlackBerry fans to do the change-up
The original Bold 9000 was big and suffered horrendous battery life – but who couldn’t love that keyboard? It was also the first 3G BlackBerry, which many people have forgotten.
With the next Bold, RIM managed to squeeze everything into a much nicer package and it was deemed acceptable to get a slightly narrower keyboard to have something that was far more pocketable, and more reliable, too.
The 9780 then improved the camera, but RIM did nothing to the phone design. What it did was introduce the new BlackBerry OS (V6), which was far more revolutionary.
The 9900 is like returning to the original 9000, but with nowhere near the same thickness. The Bold 9900 is the thinnest BlackBerry at just 10.5mm. It now seems perfectly fine to go back to a wider keyboard that, obviously, widens the whole phone. Original 9000 users won’t take long to type a few words on the 9900 and wonder why they ever swapped.
The 9900 has new features, too, like HD video recording, a much bigger screen that now adds touch, NFC and the latest version of the OS, BlackBerry OS 7. The latter isn’t really much different to OS 6, besides some new icons.
Touch was added to the Torch 9800 when it also had OS 6, so it could have just as easily been called 6.1. A touchscreen is probably the least exciting update to the new Bold for long-standing
BlackBerry users, but the increase in screen resolution is amazing. Nokia may have beaten RIM to put a 640×480 pixel display in the E6, but there’s little comparison between a Symbian-based enterprise device and a flagship BlackBerry.
You’ll probably forget it even has a touchscreen at first, but you will find it a convenient way to speed up menu navigation, or select an app without rolling a finger around on the optical pad.
Where are the apps?
The new icons and the addition of touch are presumably there to entice other smartphone users, but if the company thinks iPhone and Android users will suddenly jump, it is mistaken. There are still far too few apps available to download and extra eye candy isn’t Symbian, going to make much difference.
The Bold 9900 is really a flagship device for existing BlackBerry users, or someone who may one day get a job where it’s essential to have a BlackBerry – possibly in addition to another phone. It’s definitely out of the price range of most young BlackBerry Messenger fans, although a new Curve model is on its way and should be announced soon.
Many BlackBerry devices are secondary phones for users, but it works fine as a phone and is equally good for texting and especially BlackBerry Messaging.
Other BlackBerry applications haven’t really changed. Not a problem for the email inbox, which is what everything else centres around, or the official Twitter and Facebook apps, but more of a concern when it comes to things like BlackBerry Maps, which is still nowhere near as good as Google Maps, or the iPhone Maps app.
Even ‘apps’ like YouTube and iPlayer are nothing more than links to websites.
Being able to finger-swipe left and right to go through preset menus such as ‘All’, ‘Favourites’, ‘Media’, ‘Downloads’ and ‘Frequent’ speeds up doing things on the home screen, as well as jumping to other parts of the screen to change the ring tone or connectivity options. You can still use the optical pad to do everything as well.
Full article in Mobile News issue 498 (September 26, 2011).
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