The top of the BlackBerry Bold features the Mute key. As we already mentioned it has hardly anything to do with the sleek seamless top of the Curve 8900.
The bottom of the BlackBerry Bold 9000 sports the mic, lanyard eyelet and the back cover release button.
The back panel of the BlackBerry Bold 9000 is covered with faux leather. Much like the Nokia Xpress-on covers you can replace the rear panel with quite an assortment offered by both RIM and 3rd party manufacturers. Frankly though, most of the alternatives seem pretty tacky to our taste.
We did notice that the battery cover of the Bold 9000 actually consists of two sheets, the leather simply coating regular plastic. This makes it a pretty thick rear panel and we can't help but wonder if the handset wouldn't have been better with a slimmer waistline and a regular back panel.
In terms of features, the back hosts the 2 megapixel fixed focus camera lens and the LED flash. Their performance will be discussed in detail towards the end of the review but you'd better not set your hopes too high.
The impressive 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery lies under the battery cover. Strangely, only kept the handset powered for two-three days of extensive usage - we expected to get at least a week out of it.
The BlackBerry Bold 9000 is well put together and has enough appeal to carry the role of the best featured messenger in the company portfolio. We won't grudge the all-plastic case and the faux chrome accents - after all, the 8900 Curve is all made of plastic too.
The Bold is obviously short of the Curve finesse all right, but has a better keypad - it's its sheer size that makes typing a breeze.
The best thing to say about the faux leather at the rear is that it definitely isn't a deal breaker. Some users may cheer the exchangeable covers as well.
Never mind the extra width, the BlackBerry Bold 9000 handles pretty nicely and, even if QWERTY implies two-handed operation, single-hand use is fairly comfortable too.
The BlackBerry Bold 9000 is equipped with a 2.6" TFT display of HVGA resolution (320 x 480 pixels). That's a 3:2 aspect ratio, as opposed to the 4:3 format of the Curve 8900.
Our recent BlackBerry reviews made us quite fond of the excellent displays used on these devices and the Bold makes no exception to the rule. It has a fabulously bright and vibrant display, stacking easily among the best in business.
Sunlight legibility is another of the display's strengths. The colors are almost perfectly retained when the display is exposed to direct sun and usability isn't hurt one bit.
The other asset of the display is orientation. Landscape displays are way more natural to work with and the only reason they are so rarely used is to save space. Well the Bold took its share of nagging about size, now it is time for the praise.
All in all, the Bold display is excellent, probably the best we have seen on a BlackBerry. It loses to the Curve in terms of pixel density but the size and brightness of this unit are enough to make it the better option.
Finally, we get to the full QWERTY keyboard. Using a four-row layout, it is one of the best keyboards we have ever set a thumb on. Most certainly it grabs the award in the bar-shaped QWERTY phones category and by quite a margin at that.
The numpad is accommodated on the left, numbers sharing bed with some of the letters. Toggling between the two is automatic when the context allows it or manual via the Alt key in all other cases.
Except for the space bar all keys are of the same size and are incredibly tactile. Their size might seem inadequate to HTC Touch Pro users but their irregularly etched shape helps imennsly. The shape in question makes the keys feel perfectly spaced, and typing speed is great.
We have to once again admit RIM know how to make a good keyboard, and the Bold 9000 certainly is one of their best efforts. Of course, part of the reason is that there is more space available due to the greater width of the phone, but the individual keys design is also very well thought of.