How can I put into words how I feel about the BlackBerry Bold? In short: I love it and never ever want to let it go, ever. For any BlackBerry user/fan the Bold is everything you’ve wanted and expected from RIM. Sure, it took a little longer than we all expected, but it’s definitely worth the wait. It’s far superior in every respect from anything that RIM has put out on the market. Of course, those of you with a hankering for a touch-screen need not apply. The Bold is for the hardcore CrackBerry addict or is it?
The Bold sits in between the Curve and 8800 series from all around perspective. In terms of size it’s much closer to that of the 8800 series and is more or less a step-up from that series. However, it takes a handful of features from the Curve and melds them together to make a Super BlackBerry.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 8800 series keyboard since I’d been using the Curve since its launch, but I quickly adapted and I can now type faster on the Bold than I ever could on the Curve. The overall quality trumps the Curve. In fact, the word cheap comes to mind when I switch from the Bold to the Curve.
The half-VGA screen is…gorgeous. It does come at a cost, though. Previous BlackBerries had a protective piece of plastic covering the screen, but the Bold has a thin and rather flimsy screen this go around. You’ll want to invest in some sort of protective cover for it.
Is that microSD slot on the exterior of the phone? Yes it is! Oh, and the 1GB of internal storage is straight fire (good).
The addition of the 2-megapixel camera will surely make those with an 8800 series giddy or jealous, but Curve owners won’t be too impressed. The camera is par for the course, but it does capture video.
Because the Bold is only available through AT&T you’ll be privy to GPS, but this time you also get Wi-Fi. There is one caveat, however. The BlackBerry Maps app is blocked in favor of AT&T’s Navigator. That’s great for people who drive, but it sucks for city dwellers like myself because I don’t need all that extraneous crap that the app comes with. But the GPS finds me within seconds of loading the app, so I can’t complain too much. You’ll want to download Google Maps. Unfortunately the “My Location” function doesn’t work with the Bold at the moment.
I was never able to connect to my home network using the Curve, but I can now with the Bold. I can’t tell you why that is now, but I don’t question it. It also takes a few extra seconds to connect compared to other devices I have around the home.
This qualm is more of a network issue than it is hardware one, but you can’t utlizie Wi-Fi on the Bold to make calls or send BB IMs over UMA like you can with the Curve on T-Mobile. That’s basically what I did while overseas to save money.
Battery life was thought to be an issue on the Bold by many, but it lasted three days before I decided to juice it up. There is no option to switch from 3G to EDGE, which I think is a travesty because every other 3G smartphone on the market (mainly the iPhone and G1) has the ability to do so. But it lasted three days and that’s fine by me. This will depend on the user, though.
Overall, the hardware is a perfect blend between the 8800 series and Curve series devices. It may be a bit too wide for some folks, but I’m okay with it. It’s roughly the same width as an 8800 series. The keyboard takes some getting used to if you’re moving from any device other than an 8800, but it’s silky smooth. The camera is as good as you’re going to get out of a 2-megapixel sensor, but it does have an LED flash and captures video, so that’s good for something. On top of said camera, the Bold is the first BlackBerry to have GPS and Wi-Fi.
I believe it’s the first BB to have Wi-Fi on the AT&T network as well.
OS 4.6 takes a bit of time to get used to because the icons are kind of funky and maybe it’s the AT&T version of the BlackBerry OS that throws me off, but I hate all the folders and what’s allocated into each. But, actually having folders is a nice addition once you organize things the way you want.
Oh yeah, HTML e-mail is FINALLY here.
A ton of games are also included: BrickBreaker, Word Mole, Texas Hold’Em King 2, Sudoku, and Klondike.
DataViz provides a suite of applications for the business folks to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. They work well, but I rarely have to view preadsheets or PPT presentations.
RIM has finally done something right with their Web browser. It’s nothing to write home about thanks to Apple, but it’s way better than previous versions. I probably won’t even install Opera if that tells you anything.
The apps are also nothing to fawn over, but I’ve never associated the BlackBerry with applications. Perhaps that’s my downfall in this review, but finding applications is nowhere near as easy as it is on the iPhone or G1. We’ll just have to wait and see till the official BlackBerry App Store opens next year.
Google apps are either not supported are just don’t work at all. When trying to fire up Gmail I’m presented with errors and have yet to run it successfully. The Google Mobile App and Sync are also incompatible with the Bold, which sucks a lot because I rely on Sync to, well, sync my Google calendar with my BlackBerry calendar. Hopefully Google patches these issues or you’re going to have a lot of angry folks like myself.
The BlackBerry excels in the 3G arena where the iPhone 3G falls short. The Bold stays connected where the iPhone would revert to EDGE and stay there for all eternity.
The End Result
The Bold is unequivocally the best piece of hardware that RIM has ever put out. The Curve and Pearl series drew the attention of the masses while the 8800 series was the device of choice for the suits, but the Bold clearly appeals to both. It’s a more polished and refined BlackBerry than we’re used to. Is it perfect? No. If you’re looking for an app experience comparably to Android or even the iPhone then you’re going to want to wait until next year. But if you just want the latest BlackBerry then this is the one to get.
Sorry, T-Mobile users, but you’re going to have to settle for the Javelin aka Curve 2 or fork over the $550 to get one with no commitment and have it unlocked.
The Bold is available now for $300 with a 2-year contract and MIR.