BlackBerry has just launched their new Bold 9700, which is every bit as elegant as the original, the Bold 9000, with a few alterations to keep up with the times. Retaining RIM’s business like functionality the 9700 is also loaded with BlackBerry’s version 5.0 OS that promised to knock your socks off. If you’re considering switching over from whatever BlackBerry or other handset you’re using to the new Bold, here’s a closer look to help you decide.

Form Factor
It’s a BlackBerry so in the looks department nothing much has really changed. The essential design form is retained – Landscape display with a full QWERTY keypad, 3.5mm handsfree and Micro USB ports, Lock and Silent keys on top with Volume/Zoom and a voice command key on the side. A camera shutter release is also available but rather redundant. RIM has gone with an optical trackpad in the 9700 making the new Bold a little more versatile than its predecessor. The display resolution has also been upped to form a half VGA i.e. 480 x 320 pixel resolution to 480 x 360. It’s not much but it’s crystal clear and visually very comfortable even if the display size has been dropped to 2.44 inches.

The keypad is somehow not as comfortable as the 9000’s. The 9700’s will take a little longer to get used to. Unlike the original’s the numbers aren’t highlighted making it look a bit plain. The 9700, on the plus side is a little lighter and smaller than its big brother. It’s also a little sportier and on similar lines as the curve 8900. The Chrome finish is definitely better this time around and the elegant leather casing has given way to black plastic. However I can’t fathom why RIM thought it necessary to add the awkward leather finish to just the center of the removable rear panel. It doesn’t do much to improve the looks – it does just the opposite.

Nevertheless, the 9700 is a sleeker looking device and still manages to look as classy and professional as any of RIM’s other devices.

Features and Performance

It’s very difficult to find speed issues with BlackBerry’s OS but version 5.0 is something else and gives you the impression that it can run rings round the older versions. The 9700 is still using a 624MHz processor (same as the 9000), flash memory has been increased to 256MB but while the 9000 has 1GB of internal memory, the 9700 only comes with 256MB. Thankfully a 2GB microSD card is provided along with other goodies including BlackBerry’s leather Smart case and a very comfy handsfree kit. There’s hardly a substantial change in the UI’s layout so other than speed there’s nothing else worth talking about.

Ever since the Bold 9000 ushered in the new range of cooler media rich BlackBerrys, the devices have been sought after for more than its business acumen. The 9700, though, has taken things up a notch. In the audio department, things are the same. Brilliant, clear tone quality makes for very comfortable listening. There’s a significant thump in the bass line and the EQ presets and Audio Boost options do nothing but enhance the overall audio experience. Unfortunately RIM has still not deemed it necessary to bestow BlackBerry users with an FM radio. The microphone has superb range for leaving voice memos.

A few more additions to the video codec support make the device’s video capabilities so much better. DivX and partial Xvid support ensures that drag and drop of files of almost all formats plays back smoothly. In fact a few files that didn’t play on the 9000 or Curve 8900 played seamlessly on the 9700.

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