The BlackBerry Bold 9700

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a 3G, Wi-Fi enabled smartphone offered in the U.S. by T-Mobile and soon AT&T. It has a beautiful HVGA screen, track pad, full QWERTY keyboard, 3.2 megapixel camera with auto-focus, and expandable microSD memory card slot.

The original Bold 9000 set the bar in terms of delivering a reliable, high performing device that sported the best feature set RIM had to offer. Just a year later, the Bold2 offers an enhanced feature set and an improved design that instantly leaves the original Bold feeling, well, old.


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.

Also changed in this version is the layout of the camera and flash on the back of the device -- they're now side by side rather than above one another. The Bold2 also has charging contacts on the side of the device that are discussed more below. The most practical change in styling is a redesign of the battery compartment which now feels more secure and in solid.

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.

The screen is bright enough, but does seem less bright than the Bold... though that device was almost too bright.

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. I liked it on the Curve 8520, and I love it on the Bold2. It's responsive, accurate, doesn't stick, is less likely to be damaged. Moreover, it simply looks better than the ball. I did notice that BrickBreaker was a little more difficult with the pad, perhaps its biggest flaw. In the future the pad could be improved if it scrolled when the user rested his/her finger on the edge of the pad.

The 9700 sports two programmable convenience keys -- one on each side -- as well as volume rockers, and a top mute/lock rocker. I did notice that the volume keys were sometimes slow to respond, or required me to hit them more than once before they responded.

Like the Bold, RIM has built in charging contacts into the sides of the Bold2, intending it to be used in a charging cradle. Though useful, it is annoying that due to the different size, the latest model won't charge in the original one's cradle.

Like some of its contemporaries, and unlike the Bold, the Bold2 charges using a micro-USB port, so depending on what you're trading up from, you may have to invest in some new accessories.


The BlackBerry Bold 9700 overall offers solid performance in every area I've looked. The hardware and software combination work well together, and I haven't experienced any major glitches.

T-Mobile users will be happy to know that the Bold2 has better wireless access than their current BlackBerry, thanks to the 3G coverage. Though the coverage is increased, it's still not on par with AT&T or Verizon in my test area.

This issue is somewhat overcome by being able to call over Wi-Fi (T-Mobile only). Wi-Fi calling is not always flawless; if your signal is weak there is noticeable quality degradation. On more than one occasion, my call was dropped when switching from Wi-Fi to cell tower.

Call Quality
Though the coverage isn't always stellar, the call quality is consistently good. Calls are loud, and the sound is well balanced.

When using the speakerphone at the loudest volume, calls were tinny as compared to the Bold. This was a problem I noticed on the Storm2 as well; hopefully it isn't indicative of things to come from RIM!

When making calls using the 3G signal on the Bold, the device can get uncomfortably hot. This problem seems to have been addressed in the new offering.

Like is its predecessor, the 9700 offers visual voicemail, another feature that will likely become standard on all ‘Berries in time.

This BlackBerry sports the newest 5.0 operating system, and there are some notable improvements over the previous generation. Menus are easier to navigate and better looking. RIM borrows from the iPhone OS in areas such as time/date selection, which are now offered as a rolling wheel. My favorite feature of the 5.0 is the ability to more easily customize ringing profile settings. There are some features that were previously unoffered as well, such as the ability to set vibration to short, medium, or long sessions.

Another major improvement over previous versions is the ability to wirelessly sync contacts with Google accounts. The option to auto-sync is given after setting up an eligible email account, and it's a great way to consolidate your address books.

The smaller screen size is noticeable when browsing, and not in a good way. If no mobile version is available, pages that load are more zoomed out than the Bold, and from there you have to zoom in to the section you want. This process is manageable, but can easily be frustrating if you plan on doing a lot of browsing.

Additionally there are some media types and some pages that don't play well with the BlackBerry; again, if browsing is your main concern this probably isn't the device for you.

Messaging - Productivity
This is a BlackBerry, so of course messaging is quick and reliable, and RIM packs in plenty of options including threaded text messaging, email, and instant messaging options including BlackBerry Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo.

The 9700 also offers the DataViz Documents To Go Office Suite that allows you to view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, and even send as attachments.

Media - Camera
The Bold2 can play basic media: audio files, movie files, etc. There is a standard headphone jack on the side. Due to the smaller form factor your headphones will not plug completely into the slot -- some of the stem will be exposed). It doesn't affect the audio but it does bother me.

This phone ships with the same ugly headphone/mic combination as other BlackBerrys. This is unfortunate because the headphones that came with the original Bold are far superior in comparison.

This BlackBerry comes with 256 MB of internal memory, and it has an microSD slot. It is bundle with a 2 GB card and is expandable up to 32 GB, giving you plenty of room for MP3s and video. The slot is accessible by removing the battery cover (but not the battery). It was located on the side of the Bold 9000, but given that most users don't switch cards very often it won't be a big annoyance.

The camera is vastly improved. It boasts 3.2 megapixels, auto-focus, flash, and video recording. The downside the camera is that you can only auto-focus by using the right convenience key. I've had experiences of these keys failing over time. If that were to happen here the user would be unable to take advantage of this great feature.

Battery Life
The Bold 9700 uses the same huge battery as the Bold, but it seems to last a little longer, I've been getting as much as two days, depending on use.


BlackBerry Bold 9700In just a little more than a year RIM has proved that it can improve on a design that was already great. If you can afford it, there are very few reasons not to get the BlackBerry Bold 9700.

The browsing experience isn't on par with some competitors, but that's not why you buy a BlackBerry. There is a decent number of apps available, but again that's not RIM's core competency. The Bold2 has a great track pad, excellent form factor with a very solid feel, an improved OS, and I've experienced nearly no glitches. I can't wait to pick mine up.

* Smaller form factor
* Trackpad not a trackball
* Better camera
* 3G and Wi-Fi calling (T-Mobile)


* Accessories not backward compatible,
* Poor browsing experience
* Speakerphone quality degrades at high volumes