The new OS 7 is hardly breaking news, with four BlackBerry reviews behind us already. The BlackBerry Bold 9790 is basically the same package as the Bold Touch 9900. Well, the imaging seems to stand out—with an autofocus still camera for a change—but without HD video. The rest of the software features are a pretty close match, down to the NFC support.
We are going to reexamine OS 7 again in detail, for a complete and comprehensive coverage of the phone and its features. There are sections containing reused text but that's inevitable given most of the interface is the same. And you can rest assured that all the BlackBerry Bold 9790 specifics are accounted for.
Here goes our traditional video demo to warm you up.
BlackBerry OS 7 tries to look like the QNX-based (PlayBook's) Tablet OS. The UI icons have been updated to mimic those on the PlayBook, but the rest is pretty much the same - functionality changes are brought to a minimum.
The status area of the homescreen consists of virtual buttons. Clicking the row allows you to quickly toggle the cellular, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth radios, as well as quick access to the alarm clock and settings menu.
Clicking on the loudspeaker icon at the bottom lets you change the currently active profile, while clicking the magnifying glass on the other side of the homescreen lets you start a universal search. BlackBerry OS 7 introduces voice search, too. There is a small virtual mic button next to the Search bar. Just tap on it, say something and click on done. We tried numerous commands and names and the Bold 9790 recognized them all. By the way, when you are on the homescreen you can initiate a search by just starting to type on your keyboard.
If there are any missed events, such as SMS, email or missed calls, they can be quickly accessed by pressing the bar between the search and profile icons on the default screen.
Below that is the app tray, which consists of several tabs. You can easily hide that completely or pop up one, two or three rows of it with simple swipe gestures.
The first of the app launcher tabs holds all icons. A sideways sweeping gesture changes the currently active tab. The alternatives to the All tab (which holds all your apps in one place) include, Favorite (manually added) and Frequent (auto generated).
There are also Media (which holds media-related apps) and Download (for the apps you have downloaded yourself) sections for even more ways of sorting your apps.
To navigate, there is a trackpad as well as a touchscreen. The trackpad features the usual sharp and precise control. One place where it makes a lot of sense is in listed submenus that pop up as you press the Menu key. Not that they are not thumbable - it's just that wrong presses are completely ruled out with the trackpad.
Pretty much everything you see is clickable in BlackBerry OS 7 and works the way it's supposed to. There are still small elements such as the homescreen Search and Profiles icons, which are easier to access via the trackpad rather than the touchscreen.
The important thing to note is that, unlike the flat iOS layout, the Bold 9790 has a menu button to access options that are not visible on the screen. You get used to that pretty quickly though, so in the end the Bold 9790 manages to keep both new and returning users happy. Trackpad and touchscreen complement each other in a natural way.