RIM's latest BlackBerry Bold 9900 heralds a new era for the famous BlackBerry: it is the first Bold to combine a touchscreen and a physical keyboard in a standard candy bar design. The Bold 9900 has a fantastic industrial design that feels superbly constructed, its keyboard is the best we’ve ever used on a smartphone, and its screen is vivid and bright. However, in the age of the iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone 7 smartphones, the Bold still offers little incentive to switch from rival platforms.
Check out our guide to the best BlackBerry smartphones on the market.
BlackBerry Bold 9900: Design and display
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is a superb piece of industrial design, and without doubt the best-looking BlackBerry ever released. The brushed metal edges scream premium, while the carbon fibre-like battery cover on the rear adds weight to the Bold’s great looks. The Bold 9900 measures just 10.5mm thick, making it the thinnest BlackBerry ever.
The top mounted lock button, and the volume controls and shortcut button on the right are perfectly positioned and click reassuringly when pressed. Though it’s still very much a BlackBerry, we feel the Bold 9900’s styling should offer immense appeal to both corporate users, and regular consumers.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the first BlackBerry to combine a touchscreen and a full-sized physical keyboard while keeping the famous candy bar shape. It has a 2.8in capacitive touchscreen that is responsive to press. The screen itself is vivid, bright, and clear, but compared to its iPhone and Android rivals, the 2.8in display feels small and cramped. Below the screen sits answer and end call buttons, menu and back keys, and BlackBerry’s optical track pad. Although this is a touchscreen smartphone, we still found ourselves making good use of the track pad for general navigation.
The best feature of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is its keyboard. It’s without a doubt the best keyboard on a smartphone we’ve ever reviewed. The keys are slightly wider than its predecessor, the Bold 9780, and more akin to the original Bold 9000 — a phone that was widely credited with the best keyboard ever tag when it was released. If your primary use of a smartphone is e-mail, the Bold 9900 is on its own planet when it comes to text input.
BlackBerry Bold 9900: Software
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 runs the latest BlackBerry 7 OS, which is a very minor upgrade from BlackBerry 7. The major new feature is the ability to separate corporate data from personal data using a function called BlackBerry Balance. It’s a nice addition, but unless you’re a corporate user its hardly worth getting excited about.
BlackBerry 7 looks remarkable similar to BlackBerry 6. The home screen remains attractive, and uses a handy notifications bar that drops down when you select it. This shows all your notifications including e-mail, calendar, text messages, and social network updates. The "Social Feeds” app aggregates feeds from Facebook, Twitter, RSS and BlackBerry Messenger among others. BlackBerry has spruced up the look of some of the icons in the menu, and the vivid screen does make them look rather attractive.
Next page: Software and conclusion