Refinement For BlackBerry Bold 9700

Mobility

The new Bold 9700 smartphone is both smaller and sleeker than the original, but may lack the radical edge that could tempt new users to give it a try

The new BlackBerry Bold 9700 smartphone is undoubtedly a more refined handset than its predecessor, but is radical enough to tempt new users to jump aboard the RIM bandwagon?

The Bold 9700 is soon to make its presence felt in the UK, but Research In Motion finds itself in a bit of an odd spot these days. Although its BlackBerry line up continues to be popular among both consumers and the enterprise, a seemingly ever-increasing number of devices from other manufacturers is threaten to eat into its market-share.

Faced with such a challenge, some companies may be tempted to try something radical; but as the new BlackBerry Bold 9700 shows, RIM’s strategy is to emphasise what originally allowed them to become a dominant player in smartphones in the first place.

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The form-factor of the Bold 9700 follows closely in the footsteps of the Bold 9000, although it is a little slimmer and lighter than its predecessor. At 4.29 inches long, 2.36 inches wide, 0.56 inches thick and with a weight of 4.30 ounces, the Bold 9700 fits comfortably in the palm. The leatherette backing gives the device something of an “executive” feel, and prevents it from sliding around on a slick surface such as a metal desk.

In keeping with RIM’s stick-with-the-basics philosophy for the device, the Bold 9700 includes a physical 35-key qwerty keyboard and no touch-screen. Onscreen navigation comes courtesy of a trackpad; RIM seems to have entirely abandoned the trackball, which will come as a relief to those users frustrated with that feature’s tendency to clog or break.

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Upon turning on the Bold 9700 for the first time, users will notice the brightness and resolution of the screen, something that Research In Motion is understandably emphasising in their media materials related to the launch. The high-resolution 2.44-inch screen features a 480×360 pixel color display and supports over 65,000 colors. Video and images seem noticeably but not astoundingly sharp.

Along those lines, the Bold 9700 comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera that includes standard-issue auto-focus, image stabilisation, flash and 2X digital zoom. In addition to still images, users can also record video in either normal mode (480 x 352 pixel) or MMS Mode (176 x 144 pixel). The camera is much better than the one integrated into the Bold 9000, which was functional but snapped muddy images if lighting conditions were less than ideal; with the Bold 9700, images are substantially sharper, with clear colors.

The device tested by eWEEK utilised the T-Mobile network in the United States. Over three days of testing, calls were relatively clear in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with one dropped connection and minor interference at some moments; however, quality of coverage could vary wildly in other areas of the country. The 3G connection loaded web pages fairly quickly, although the lack of touch-screen continues to make online navigation a bit of a chore.


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