RIM’s Bold 9700 and 9780 created a niche for themselves and the Bold series of smartphones has a loyal set of fans. RIM’s new Bold 9790 is an attempt to take this legacy forward.
The Bold 9790 is new in the sense that it has the newer Blackberry 7 OS (not for long though). Add to that the touchscreen display and a contemporary design, you have a totally different Bold. All said and done, the phone went through a set of rigorous tests. What follows is an in-depth look at what the Bold 9790 has to offer.
Features and Specs
Mobile phone manufacturers in the recent present seem to be fascinated by touchscreen. Despite the small screen size (2.45-inches), the Bold 9790 has a touchscreen with the new liquid graphics. The screen has a resolution of 480x360 and displays 16m colours.
Under the hood is a powerful 1GHz processor, which makes running Blackberry OS7 easy. The Bold 9790 also has an internal memory of 8GB and you can increase the storage space up to 32GB with the help of microSD card. With regards to connectivity you have Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS.
The Bold 9790 has an auto-focus 5MP camera with single LED flash and can record VGA videos. Following the Blackberry tradition, the media formats that the Bold 9790 can handle are impressive with MP3/WMA/WAV/eAAC+/FLAC to take care of your audio needs and MP4/WMV/H.263/H.264 to satiate your video cravings.
The pre-installed apps across all the new crop of Blackberry phones include Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk, social networking apps Twitter and Facebook and an app called social feeds that collates all your social content in one template. The Bold 9790 is no different. Once again please make sure that you download the updates for each of these apps. The bundled games include Brickbreaker and Wordmole.
This is a space where RIM needs no introduction and device after device they have excelled in sticking to the high standards of productivity (email/office applications) and improving upon it with each software update. Setting up emails on the Bold 9790 was an easy two step process after which my phone wouldn't stop buzzing as the inbox started flooding with emails.
The phone has a bundled a full-version of the Documents-To-Go app which takes care of all your document apps. It is very easy to edit/create documents on the go on this nifty app.
The bundled earphones are great for calls but the quality left a lot to be desired considering the fact they were extremely flimsy.
Design & Usability
The Bold 9790 is a slim (110 x 60 x 11.4 mm), sleek and handsome phone that is bound to be adorned as a permanent accessory by suited professionals. The design is definitely a win and the icing on the cake is that the Bold 9790 is lightweight at just 107 grams. Ergonomically speaking, the phone sits snug in my palm and single-handed usage is easy.
The volume rocker and the camera shorcut button are on the right and the left has the 3.5mm jack. I particularly like the rubber-finish back cover in grey. It looks extremely classy.
If I know fans of Blackberry, the one thing that's essential to their device is the QWERTY keypad; it's vital that the new device has a great keypad. The Bold 9790, however, falls way behind in this regard. It is good, but the Q, A and Alt keys on the left of the keypad and the P, Del and Enter keys on the right are unwieldy owing to the curved nature of the corners making the feel of the press much different than the other keys. In daily usage, this becomes a hindrance.
The new Blackberry OS 7 looks very similar to OS 6 except for the fact that RIM has done away with the transparent icons which were present on the previous iteration of the OS. I never faced any stability issues with the other devices running the same OS but the Bold 9790 crashed on me three times during one of those intense messaging sessions. This raises an issue about stability of the device but I believe this could be a problem with the review unit.
The touchscreen on the Bold 9790 was refined and smooth, much to my surprise. The small screen doesn't hamper the experience. Also, the screen has good color reproduction and brightness levels. Visibility under bright sunlight is not an issue.
Browsing, Multimedia, Bottomline
The 5MP auto-focus camera was the surprise element in the Bold 9790 (my astonishment may also be a result of the low expectations). I found minimal chromatic aberration in daylight shots and there was absolutely no image distortion. Though processed, the images had good colours. The light from the flash spreads evenly across the entire subject. The phone captures VGA (640x480) videos in 3gp format and the quality of the captured video is decent. There is some evident screen tearing though.
The great browsing experience continues in the Bold 9790. Pages loaded extremely fast and the single column view for most websites made reading an easy job.
Clarity is the selling proposition for the Bold 9790's loudspeaker. It isn't very loud but I prefer this anyday over sound jarring at maximum volume. The music player has a great interface and the sound quality through a pair of good earphones is crystal clear and loud. The video player played all the videos I threw at it except 1080p ones.
After the battery life debacle with the Curve 9360, I had set me expectations really low with this phone too. And I think it was a good idea because the battery life is fair to say the least. You will need to run to the charger after 20 hours of normal everyday use.
At £399, the Bold 9790 is priced much more than the competition. If you have the 9700 or the 9780, I suggest there is no need for an upgrade and if you want a new Blackberry phone with the same OS the Bold 9900 is a much better option.