Name: BlackBerry Bold 9930
Price: $200 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story: Over the past year, we’ve seen BlackBerry nearly implode. Between an unsuccessful tablet launch, a quarter which saw a 60 percent drop in net income, and a fourth-place ranking, nothing has gone right for the Canadian-based brand. It really seems as if its diehard fanbase and lucrative corporate contracts are the only thing keeping BlackBerry afloat. Looking to close out the year strong, RIM put together what is considered its most powerful line-up of BlackBerry phones to date, with the new Bold 9930 spearheading the campaign trail.
Flaunting a more attractive profile and look, an awesome keyboard, and, most importantly, a refined version of its BlackBerry operating system, the new Bold offers just the right features to keep BBM fans appeased. But is that enough to make it a serious threat amongst the Android and iOS crowd?
• BlackBerry OS 7: We couldn’t ask for anything more from BlackBerry’s latest operating system. As typical, the communication features make it a favorite amongst messaging mongers, as BBM, thread texting, and Microsoft Exchange provide immediate access to politic with friends and business associates. OS 7 also comes equipped with Facebook and Twitter apps for users to keep up with social media updates. On the corporate tip, you’ll find a preloaded version of Documents To Go, as well as a File Manager to keep track of stored content. In addition, the Bold 9930 comes NFC-enabled, which means users can buy goods simply by swiping their phone on a compatible system. See? RIM is adapting with the times, people.
• Great QWERTY keyboard and responsive touchscreen: Not since the Sidekick 4G have we more enjoyed typing on a QWERTY keyboard. Well-spaced keys, great tactile feedback, and a solid build, all make for one of the best—if not the best—keyboards on the market. On the touchscreen end, BlackBerry managed to plaster a sharper display that generates a higher pixel resolution than previous Bold models (640 x 480) and produces smoother graphics. One-touch commands are instantaneous and text input is spot-on. In the end, either messaging platform works great, but we recommend you stick with the keyboard.
• Sleek and slimmer profile: From a distance, it might be easy to mistake the new Bold 9930 as just another BlackBerry model. While it keeps the traditional frame, the latest version treads lightly with a weight of 5.3 oz and is dipped with aluminum accents on the side to provide a more premium feel. The combination of durable steel and soft touch plastic make for the perfect marriage when it comes to solid grip control and style.
• Good call quality and 3G coverage: Our call experience with Sprint’s last Blackberry, the Style 9670, wasn’t so memorable. Fortunately, the Bold 9930 provides stelllar 3G reception and top-notch voice recognition. We even put its Bluetooth capability to the test with the Jabra Sport wireless headset and found voice quality to be sharp, with background interference to be less noticeable. The Bold 9930 stands out as one of the more reliable calling phones of the Now Network.
• Verizon-less additions and bundled goods: Unlike America’s largest 4G network, Sprint unlocked the Bold 9930's SIM card slot, and it offers a cheaper price tag and unlimited data plans. Also, BlackBerry spoils buyers by bundling a set of useful treats such as headphones, a screen cleaning cloth, one of the most portable chargers on the market, and a magnetic, clip-on carry case. Not bad for a $200 price tag.
• No advanced features: In order for BlackBerry to keep its market share from plummeting any lower, we recommend it works on integrating some of today's mobile features into its new models: including 4G, a dual-core processor, mobile hotspot capability, and an HDMI port. None of which are offered on the new Bold by the way, at least not the Sprint version.
• BlackBerry App World: Aside from having a dismal 44,730 downloadable apps at the moment, the digital distribution service doesn't offer the borader and more advanced selection found on the Android Market and Apple App Store. Adding insult to injury, BAW's interface is both sluggish and limited in navigation, as the small icons and touchscreen interaction make it difficult to search for apps.
• Weak camera: The 5MP camera does captures quality 720p HD videos, but it shoots grainy and dark images. The LED flash is not bright enough, and the auto-focus suffered from lag. In addition, it doesn’t offer the robust setting options found on some of the market’s more high-end smartphones.
• Difficulty accessing internal slots: Good luck inserting your SIM card or replacing the battery because you'll have to pry the back case open in order to do both. After several tries, and looking through the Bold's user manual, we still couldn't get back there.
Final Say: Beloved features like BBM and BlackBerry's e-mail client, along with an upgraded UI and incredible QWERTY keyboard, make the Bold 9930 a worthy successor in the series. The new touchscreen produces sharp visuals and faster performance benchmarks, which is mainly attributed to its speedy 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor. Yet even with all of the Bold's modern enhancements, it still lacks the flashy specs found on Android and iOS devices like dual-core processing, mobile hotspot capability, and a larger App store. And seeing how the T-Mobile version is 4G-enabled, it's disappointing to see Sprint's model not supporting WiMAX speeds. But the fact that the carrier is offering its version with unlimited data plans and bundles it with cool extras make it a perfect fit for messaging and business types.