Mobility

Review: BlackBerry Bold 9700

If your organization is considering deploying BlackBerrys in the enterprise, you should take a look at the BlackBerry Bold 9700. Paul Mah says the smartphone does not disappoint.

The RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700 smartphone comes with a number of enhancements that were not available in its predecessor, the BlackBerry Bold 9000, making it a logical and much-desired upgrade. Even though the BlackBerry Bold 9700 has been on the market since late last year (and the latest RIM device that is generating all the buzz is the BlackBerry Torch 9800), we thought that it is still worthy of a review.

Specifications

  • Carriers: T-Mobile and AT&T
  • Display: 480 x 360 pixels
  • OS: BlackBerry OS 5
  • Processor: 624 MHz
  • Wireless: 802.11b, 802.11g, Bluetooth v2.1
  • Radio: Tri-band UMTS/HSPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM
  • RAM: 256 MB of RAM
  • Battery: M-S1
  • Dimensions: 4.29 x 2.36 x 0.56 inches (109 x 60 x 14 mm)
  • Weight: 4.3 ounces (122 grams)
  • Camera: 3.2 megapixels
  • Video: Video recorder
  • Tethering: Modem
  • Product site: BlackBerry Bold 9700
  • Photos of the BlackBerry Bold 9700

Who is the target audience?

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a fine choice for business executives and IT pros who need a good keyboard to respond to messages while they're on-the-go.

What problem does it solve?

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 rectifies some of the shortcomings of the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and improves on it in a number of ways. For instance, the BlackBerry Bold 9700 eliminates the common problem of the "stuck" trackball with the incorporation of an optical trackpad; in addition, the reduced form factor makes the device appear at least equal to the iPhone in size, while maintaining the sleek appearance inherent to the BlackBerry Bold family of smartphones.

Standout features

  • Small and lightweight: The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is the smallest and the lightest phone in the BlackBerry Bold line. Even though the dimensions and weight reductions are slight, the overall changes give it a much better heft in the hand and in the pocket.
  • Optical trackpad: The inclusion of an optical trackpad means that administrators no longer have to grapple with trying to clean (or exchange) units with poorly functioning trackballs. This lowers operational costs and results in a much better user experience.
  • Memory: The increased memory (it's double the memory of the BlackBerry Bold 9000) makes for a big difference in usability. Lag time is noticeably reduced when running multiple applications, and I never encountered any situation in which the memory dipped to the dreaded "0 bytes." (This causes the BlackBerry to unilaterally delete older messages to free up memory space and can result in lost text messages.)
  • M-S1 battery: Companies with existing BlackBerry Bold 9000 smartphone deployments will love the fact that the BlackBerry Bold 9700 uses the same M-S1 battery as the original BlackBerry Bold. This means that spare batteries can be readily found in most mobile phone shops or ordered online.
  • Megapixels: The built-in camera has been bumped up to 3.2 megapixels for better pictures.

What's wrong?

  • Small keyboard: If you're upgrading from the BlackBerry Bold 9000, it will take you a little while to get used to the slightly smaller keyboard on the BlackBerry Bold 9700.
  • Optical trackpad: Even though the optical trackpad is one of the device's standout features, I've listed it in the What's wrong? section because it feels different than the physical trackballs in earlier BlackBerrys, and it may take you some time to get used to it.
  • micro-USB: The switch from a mini-USB to a micro-USB could result in some users being left with incompatible phone chargers.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a good, solid evolution of RIM's smartphone, and companies thinking of deploying BlackBerry smartphones will not go wrong purchasing the device. I think the BlackBerry Bold 9700 is the best smartphone in the Bold line.

User rating

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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.

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