BlackBerry Bold 9900 review: Business reimagined

GSMArena team, 20 September 2011.
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Same ol' music player

RIM have surely refreshed the Music Player icons, but that’s basically all they did. The styling is still pretty conservative, but most of the functionality has been there since BlackBerry OS 5.

There’s quick search of tracks and automatic sorting by artist, album and genre. Custom playlists are also supported.

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Browsing your tracks in the music player

Album art is on the list of included features too, along with equalizer presets and the single track repeat option.

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The now playing screen and the available settings

Quite naturally, the player can also be minimized to play in the background. You can then go back to it via the task manager or the main menu. Pausing it by hitting the mute button is also possible, what's missing is an indication of the currently playing song on the home screen.

Great video player

With so many better options out there, the Bold Touch 9900 is an easy one to overlook if video-watching is a priority. It would be a mistake. The Bold Touch 9900 does a really great job, so you might want to tick that box on your wish list.

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The video player interface is almost identical to the music player

The landscape screen is a good start, while the video player itself isn’t bad either. Its styling might not be too impressive, but the functionality is mostly there.

There are the usual playback controls when you hit a key or tap on the screen, along with a dedicated fit/zoom to screen button.

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The video playback screen and some of the available options

The Bold Touch 9900 video player is said to support DivX, XviD, H.264/MPEG-4 and WMV videos up to 720p resolution. It did manage to play all of the DivX files we threw at it, WMV, MOV and MP4 files up to 720p were no problem either, but the XviD videos didn’t go that easy. Some of the files were OK, while others where just incompatible. It seems it's a bit rate or audio thing, but we won't count on that XviD support much.

The general performance here is decent, which is probably more than most BlackBerry customers will ever need.

Average audio quality

We put our BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 unit through our traditional audio quality test, but it didn't quite manage to pass it with flying colors. Not that we expected anything knowing its pedigree.

With no resistance applied to the line-out (i.e. the active external amplifier) the Bold Touch 9900 has decent signal-to-noise ratio, dynamic range and stereo crosstalk. The distortion levels are decent and the volume levels are excellent. However, the frequency response is far from optimal with the extreme bass frequencies completely cut-off.

When headphones are connected, the Bold Touch 9900 stereo crosstalk increases dramatically and volume levels drop quite a lot. At least the distortion levels increase quite slightly, which promotes them from average to good.

And here come the full results so you can see for yourselves:

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900+0.46, -2.47-86.387.70.0120.126-81.2
BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900(headphones attached)+0.86, -2.54-83.084.10.0650.180-38.9
BlackBerry Bold 9780+0.26, -3.61-89.787.90.0120.021-89.4
BlackBerry Bold 9780 (headphones attached)+0.24, -4.87-89.587.50.00930.271-55.9
Nokia C5-03+0.08, -0.41-90.090.10.0063 0.014-92.0
Nokia C5-03 (headphones attached)+0.57, -0.25-88.487.90.016 0.351-73.4
Nokia C6-01+0.07, -0.37-88.288.10.0073 0.017-89.4
Nokia C6-01 (headphones attached)+0.48, -0.25-88.187.80.016 0.362-71.7
HTC Desire Z+0.11, -0.09-90.190.10.0120.037-90.7
HTC Desire Z (headphones attached)+0.70, -0.17-90.284.50.0150.430-64.2
Apple iPhone 4+0.01, -0.07-90.190.00.00680.012-89.6
Apple iPhone 4 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.07-90.490.40.00360.092-68.4

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900
BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Simple, yet powerful gallery inherited from OS 6

The image gallery hasn't changed since the OS 6, so it should be familiar to all BlackBerry users already.

Images can be browsed in grid mode or viewed as a standard list. There’s search by name here too, but we’re not the type that remembers the names of our image files, so we won’t count that as an extra.

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The gallery

Photos can only be browsed in landscape mode or you can manually rotate them. Unfortunately the Bold Touch 9900 has no built-in accelerometer to provide automatic rotation.

You can skip to the next photo without returning to the gallery – you just flick your finger over the trackpad or do a finger swipe on the screen and you are done.

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Browsing images

Checking an image’s properties, applying zoom, as well as starting a slide show, are all a menu key click away. Setting one of your images as a homescreen wallpaper is available too.

Picture browsing is pretty fast and so are zooming and panning. It would have been nice to use the volume rocker as a zoom lever, but the gallery is generally pretty good.

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