Tech Review: BlackBerry Bold 9900

I’ve always been an avid smartphone fan. I had one of the first in-car sat nav’s (it also handily functioned as a PDA). I then had a Sony Ericsson Xperia X1i and this was my first experience of a qwerty keypad. For functionality and ease of typing you can’t beat them!

BlackBerry, or more specifically RIM have had a tough time of late, the hiccup with the BB email servers, and being held personally responsible for the UK riots because of its ‘send to all messaging system’ wasn’t the best PR strategy ever devised.

These recent set backs don’t seem to have affected the brand though and BlackBerry devices are increasing in popularity among business AND non-business users alike in the UK. Here is one of their latest phones, The BlackBerry Bold 9900

Blackberry Bold Review

I was pleasantly surprised by the build and feel of the Bold, it has a rigid and angular feel to the back and its nice to hold.  The battery cover has a carbon fibre type effect to it, combined with an obligatory rear facing camera with LED flash and volume up / down and camera controls. These are smartly chromed up too, similar to the outer bezel.

(Incidentally BlackBerry are another company adopting the micro-usb charging socket, which is good to see and in my opinion should be the standard).

It takes a bit of getting used to having a keyboard on the front, the buttons all have a slight curve to them and are seemingly designed for quick thumbs rather than fingers.  This is something loyal BlackBerry fans will be used to and adore, for me, well I have fat thumbs so it’s something of learning curve to get to grips with initially.

The Bold’s display is (2.44-inch and 360×480 pixels), not as big as on some of the competition, but if you spend much of your time reading emails, checking calendar events and posting to Twitter and Facebook, then this is unlikely to be an issue for you.

The screen is very bright in daylight.. and seems responsive enough with multi-touch on photos / browsing etc. I had to set up a blackberry data plan for all of the functions and apps to work properly and it seems they really want you to use their servers for just about everything.

Blackberry Bold ReviewFacebook, Twitter, instant email etc ALL need a special Blackberry data plan before they would work beyond the realms of my home wi-fi connection, the current cost of this in the UK is £5 per month.

I found the operating system to be very slick (it has a 1.2 ghz processor), with no noticeable lag. Initial setup could be a turn off for the less tech-y types though, there are a lot of menus within menus of things I didn’t really understand (and I’m a geek), again this is down to experience with the BlackBerry operating system and a corporate user would probably receive the phone in a ‘ready to go’ state.

Once you are up to speed I found all my important information was accessible from the main screen quite simply (mostly one or two clicks), perfect any high flying needs. There are some nice built-in security features too, remote tracking, data wiping and remote locking which if the phone was stolen would at least enable you to keep your data secure.

BlackBerry’s App World gives you access to some 8,500 apps, and while this is not the impressive numbers that iOS or Android can boast, there are a huge amount of business productivity and social interaction apps available, and there are some gems if you look carefully. In addition to this there is a reasonable games section with currently about 600 game to browse.

There is a free iPlayer App to catch up on your favourite BBC TV programmes and it comes with a YouTube player installed and you should never be bored on even the longest journeys.

The 720p HD video camera produces good results and the image stabiliser works well, especially for those of us with shakey hands! For regular photos its result are solid as opposed to spectacular especially if there is good light.

For BlackBerry fans this device will be everything they hoped it would be, and more. Bosses take note, buying one for all your staff to replace their current model could make you very popular.

For the casual mobile user looking to update their social accounts and browse the internet (oh, and make phone calls too), the decision is tougher, the smaller screen and lack of Apps may be an issue and Blackberry has its own was of doing things.

seven out of 10It’s not bad, just different, and the BlackBerry the learning curve can be a bit steep compared to an Android device or an iPhone. Personally I would probably go for something with a slide out keyboard, but they are definitely worth checking out. Especially if you have small thumbs.

Operating system: BlackBerry OS 7
Processor: Single core Qualcomm Snapdragon @ 1.2 ghz RAM 768mb
Internal Storage: 768 MB application memory, 8 GB device memory
5.0 MP camera, supports 720p HD video recording
Bluetooth, NFC and A-GPS / WiFi (b/g/n)

More info visit

Written by Phil Mottershead