BlackBerry Bold 9700 review: Dare you go

GSMArena team, 8 December 2009.
Pages: 12345678

Tags: BlackBerry

Introduction

Some handsets will work their socks off to have their fifteen minutes of fame, others are simply born into stardom. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is certainly fortunate to carry a name that stands for popularity and excellence in the RIM family of phones. But this kind of fame can be less a blessing and more of a curse if the successor fails to live up to the standards set by its illustrious namesake.

BlackBerry Bold 9700
BlackBerry Bold 9700 official photo

These high expectations have quite often turned otherwise decent handsets into a byword for failure. It's simply not enough to provide incremental improvements when upgrading an iconic handset. The iPhone somehow gets away with that, but Apple usually does. But for regular mobile phone manufacturers it takes something new and it certainly takes something better for the successor to achieve the same kind of success.

Key features:

  • 2.44" 65K-color TFT landscape display with a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels
  • Comfortable four-row full QWERTY keyboard
  • Quad-band GSM support and tri-band 3G with HSDPA
  • Wi-Fi and built-in GPS and BlackBerry maps preloaded
  • 3.15 autofocus megapixel camera, LED flash
  • 624 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM
  • BlackBerry OS v5
  • Responsive trackpad navigation
  • Hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 16GB)
  • DivX and XviD video support
  • Good web browser
  • Office document editor
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Decent audio quality
  • Smart dialing
  • Great battery life
  • More compact body and lighter weight compared to the Bold 9000
  • Good build quality

Main disadvantages:

  • Many features are locked without a BlackBerry Internet Service account (plan)
  • Mediocre camera performance and features
  • No FM radio
  • No video-call camera
  • No TV-out functionality
  • No built-in accelerometer
  • No built-in compass

It's pretty obvious where the RIM R&D team is heading with the BlackBerry Bold 9700. It's hard to really overhaul a handset that was considered almost perfect by most of its users without testing their loyalty, so they embarked on optimization instead. It's not a bad formula for success to just keep the same functionality, stick it in a smaller, fitter body and improve the performance wherever possible.

BlackBerry Bold 9700 BlackBerry Bold 9700 BlackBerry Bold 9700
Will the BlackBerry Bold 9700 have the span and impact of its predecessor?

One glitch or an important feature sacrificed to fit the compact package and the plan goes down the tubes. The smartphone market is increasingly competitive and smaller companies like RIM know they have little room for error. The new Bold 9700 looks fit and hot, no doubt about that. Let's see if it performs to our expectations, and yours.

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