Mobility

How does the BlackBerry Bold hold up to heavy use?

With the BlackBerry Bold finally launching in the United States on Election Day just next week, here is a review of my month's experience of the Bold from the perspective of a heavy user.

I first wrote about my experiences with one of RIM's newest smartphones at the beginning of this month. At that time, I focused specifically on the deployment of the BlackBerry Bold in the enterprise. Today, I share my experiences of the BlackBerry Bold as a smartphone.

Battery life

You might have read initial reports earlier this year, lamenting that the battery life of the BlackBerry Bold is less than desired. Months of software upgrades later, I am happy to say that the battery life is now comparable to that of the BlackBerry Curve.

I did encounter an interesting problem when I tried to connect the Bold to my laptop via a cheap, retractable USB cable. Despite it having worked perfectly with my Curve, the cable simply did not work with the Bold. Switching to another cable got things working again, though not before I went through a frustrating week that saw me trying to fix the problem via various software patches. So switch to the original RIM-supplied USB cables if you encounter any problems on this front.

Going back to the battery life of the Bold, spare batteries are now available for purchase -- unlike the situation at the beginning of this month. So while your mileage might vary, I don't think it should pose much of a problem at this point.

Modem tethering

As usual, modem tethering with the Bold is relatively fuss free, with a data connection easily achieved via Bluetooth. Cable tethering is supported too, except that I never got down to using it and hence have no comments on that front. Download speeds were fast and certainly a huge improvement from GPRS and EDGE speeds.

One point to note is that the BlackBerry Bold is automatically disconnected from the data network when tethered to a laptop as a data modem. As such, push mail will temporarily cease, and surfing from the BlackBerry or trying to send PINs will not succeed until it has been untethered. This was a different experience than I had with my Curve, though I must add that normal telephony functions such as voice calls and SMS continue to work as expected.

Device stability

This is the fourth BlackBerry device that I have used to date; unfortunately, the Bold also appears to be the most unstable of the BlackBerry lineup so far. Now, let me qualify that: What I mean is that the Bold is less stable than my experiences with other RIM devices to date, and not that it is unusable in any way. I have used at least three or four Windows Mobile smartphones so far, and the Bold is still more stable than the best Windows Mobile devices that I have used.

Another factor that might have led to the much higher frequency of crashes -- about once or twice a week -- might be the fact that I use the Bold much more heavily than my previous Curve. Ironically, its improved usability means that I find myself on IM and sending PINs all the time, including using the improved Media Player to stream music via Bluetooth to my wireless headphones.

I am doubtlessly a very heavy user, so you should have no worries if all your CEO and senior managers do is reply to e-mails and PIN. In addition, there have also been a few updates to the operating system since the beginning of this month so far; things are looking better with each update.

Saving attachments

Assuming compatibility from the server, it is now possible for users to download file attachments onto their BlackBerry. This creates a new dimension in terms of managing security, as users are now able to download attachments and then transfer them via USB to a laptop. So be sure to enable the relevant security policies if such an action is within proscribed limits in your company's security policy.

In addition, an area to warn your users about is that data files saved onto the memory card are not mirrored and will be lost for good should the BlackBerry be misplaced or stolen.

Memory storage

In its continual quest to be more pro-consumer, another major change that RIM made is to relocate the memory card to an easily accessible location on the side of the unit. This is excellent from the perspective of a power user, who can now remove the memory card without first having to power off the unit.

As an administrator, though, it is now more important than ever to enforce the media-card encryption option. In addition, the availability of micro SDHC memory cards of up to 16 GB means that more options might now be open to the IT department. At this point, the price of 8 GB memory cards has also fallen steeply, making them a good buy.

Other remarks

Despite a month of intensive use, the device is holding up as well as you would expect from any BlackBerry smartphone. Its faux leather is also less slippery than predecessors such as the Curve, which is excellent. Overall, I would consider the Bold to be a worthwhile upgrade. Certainly, there is no way I will trade it back for anything else at this point!

What are your thoughts on what I have covered so far?

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About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

2 comments
wolfticket2003
wolfticket2003

I've been considering the purchase of the BlackBerry Bold for several weeks now, as opposed to Sprint's offer of the BlackBerry Curve 8350i Smartphone, with Direct Connect. (I'm at the end of my 2 year AT&T contract, and this is a big step for me.) I'm a business mobile-phone user primarily, but streaming music, or having access to my own cd/mp3 database through my cell is a must. (I can do that now with the first edition Blk-brry Pearl, 2100 series- (RIM) but they forgot to let us listen to music using a bluetooth headset; the avail. 1.5 jacks are horrible, one-ear, generic crapazoids with scratchy, teeny distorted playback. For once I'd like to enjoy mobile music at stereo level, since I spend hours commuting. My biggest complaint with AT&T is their "more bars in more places" campaign, which is a bold-face lie, and the signal strength of a supposedly $300.00 phone in an area of the city that claims to have 4 nearby towers is deplorable. No one has been able to offer any valid solutions in the IT or Business forums on any off the sites I've visited, or tech-help sites where I've posted my dilemna. I don't want to experience 2 more years of dropped calls, static, in-ability to hear my caller's voice, or sometimes even fail to receive notification of inbound calls. I've lost several interstate business opportunites simply because we could not communicate successfully. (3-G phones are supposed to solve all these issues, but I don't know if I believe that) What do you think is the BEST phone, integrating the following components: * best monthly cost plan (for unlimited data)- * best network for voice clarity- * best customer service- This is all being proposed as it regards a moderate to potentially-heavy business user; having to rely on mobile devices for voice & email communication, and high speed access to the internet. (while not being stifled on-line when attempting to view, listen to, or download content- which also the Pearl cannot do without altering the original software, which voids all guarantees and warranties.) All opinions from experienced business-oriented users will be read and seriously considered-(while all other posts will be read for fun because they all have a great sense of humor here.) gs-

paulmah
paulmah

With the BlackBerry Bold finally launching in the United States on Election Day just next week, here is a review of my month?s experience of the Bold from the perspective of a heavy user.

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