Nice Impressions of The BlackBerry Bold 9700

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The original BlackBerry Bold made its debut about a year ago. Even though the original model is still a solid device, it's now time for a flashier, faster model that will make you yearn for an upgrade. The latest RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700 is available through T-Mobile and AT&T. As T-Mobile's first 3G BlackBerry, the Bold 9700 not only offers T-Mobile customers a sleek new handset in time for the holidays, but it also offers versatility in the form of UMA support for Wi-Fi calling. While T-Mobile's 3G network may not be as vast as some other carrier's networks, T-Mobile is continuing to expand its 3G service nationwide and expects to offer 3G service to approximately 200 million people across the US by year end. It's definitely nice to see the carrier add more 3G handsets to its lineup, especially a full-featured phone such as the BlackBerry 9700 that can really take advantage of the new network.

The Bold2 may be the best looking BlackBerry yet. The most notable contrast with the first-generation Bold is its overall size. It's thinner, shorter, and less wide than the Bold. It's also less wide than the BlackBerry Tour, though not by much. Its distinguishing features include subdued chrome accents around the bezel, a faux-leather backed battery compartment, black matte convenience keys on the sides, and of course, a track pad where users have become accustomed to seeing the iconic but sometimes finicky BlackBerry Ball.

The screen is simply amazing. The iPhone's screen was great, then the Bold took the same resolution and packed it into a smaller, richer screen. The Bold2 has done the same thing, but more so. Graphics are detailed, and smooth and pictures and web pages render sharply. Of course, the screen itself is smaller than its predecessor, and is on par with a Curve 8900 or Tour so you'll want to think twice if you're primarily concerned with browsing. If this is your primary concern you might want to think twice.

Track pad & Keyboard
To fit the smaller form factor the keyboard had to be scaled down, though not at the cost of usability. The keys maintain the rubbery, responsive feeling from the Bold, albeit smaller. If you are used to a BlackBerry Curve or even a Tour, you'll be pleasantly surprised with this keyboard. If you're coming from a Bold, you'll notice only a slight difference, and if you're coming from a Storm you'll be thankful (for more reasons than just the keyboard) that you made the switch. The trackpad is a delight to use, and has almost no learning curve.

Using the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) T-Mobile service and call quality was good. On our end, the audio was clear with very little background noise so we had no problem hearing our callers or using an airline's voice automated response system.

T-Mobile's 3G coverage was reliable though not blazingly fast. RIM has made some drastic improvements to its browser in the past year, it still lags behind all the other major operating systems. The navigation is clunky and slow, but it seems that the company realizes this weakness and is committed to developing a better browser. The Bold 9700's next-gen 624MHz processor certainly delivered, as the smartphone felt snappy. We only encountered some minimal delays when using the camera. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 features a 1,500mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 17 days of standby time.

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