RIM BlackBerry Bold 9900 review

£480
Price when reviewed

Smartphone users seem to be divided into two camps: those that are happy using onscreen keyboards and those who prefer proper keys and buttons. Various phones have tried to straddle this gap, offering both options in one package, usually by taking a normal touch-screen phone and tacking on a slide-out Qwerty keyboard. The BlackBerry 9900 takes the opposite approach: it’s a traditional keyboard-centric BlackBerry, with the added benefit that the screen has been touch enabled.

The touch screen is a useful addition, but it’s perfectly possible to use the phone without dabbing the display, and anyone upgrading to this phone from an older Bold or Curve may find themselves hardly touching the screen initially. With use, though, it soon becomes apparent that for things like scrolling, zooming, and flicking between screens, the new touch interface is a real boon.

Size wise, the Bold 9900 more like the original Bold 9000 than last year’s Bold 9780, meaning that it has grown a bit taller and wider. The Bold 9900 certainly has a very premium feel and stylish looks; although it’s a reasonably thin phone at 11mm, the visual effect of the brushed stainless steel frame makes it seem even thinner.

The device runs RIM’s latest operating system, BlackBerry 7 OS. This is probably the last iteration of the traditional BlackBerry operating system, with QNX-based devices expected to appear next year. The OS will look instantly familiar to existing BlackBerry users: the graphics have been tweaked slightly but the layout and operation is still largely the same as before.

The classic BlackBerry annoyances such as having to reboot when installing or updating many apps are still present too. The main OS improvement is in the web browser, which renders both mobile and desktop websites particularly well: it coped with everything we threw at it.

RIM BlackBerry Bold 9900

Besides the touch screen and new OS, the biggest improvement the 9900 brings is speed. Both the CPU and the graphics processing are notched up considerably from previous BlackBerry devices, and the difference is noticeable across the board: Boot times are much faster, web pages scroll more smoothly, and searching through a stack of emails is very fast. The phone stormed through our benchmarks, completing the SunSpider test in just 2,702ms – slightly quicker than the Samsung Galaxy S II. Our test device loaded the BBC homepage in eight seconds – a little slow, but by no means disastrously so.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £30.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider Vodafone

Physical

Dimensions 66 x 11 x 115mm (WDH)
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard Physical

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 768MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 2.8in
Resolution 640 x 480

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Other

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