BlackBerry is in serious danger of being usurped as the business bods’ first choice mobile e-mailer. With Nokia’s outrageously slim E71 and Apple’s iPhone 3G muscling in on the corporate scene, its new flagship phone – aptly called the Bold – needs to be frighteningly good to stave off the ambush.
Thankfully the Bold lives up to its name. BlackBerry creator’s RIM has pulled out all the stops, considerably upping the production values, smoothing out the design and finally, after a lifetime of waiting, fitting a fast HSDPA engine. Only a meagre two megapixel camera compromises its high-end smartphone creds.
The Bold is a follow-up to the 8820, so if you’re expecting a more compact pocket-friendly Curve physique, you’ll be disappointed. It feels hefty, but this is partly due to its high quality construction and aluminium mined frame. A surprisingly fetching and tactile leatherette rear panelling finishes off the remodel.
The GUI has also been given a stylish makeover in keeping with its latest look but there’s no new quirky OS to worry CrackBerry fans; the lucid touch ball remains, while its 624Mhz mobile processor, one of the fastest around, keeps everything ticking over nicely.
It’s hard not to notice the new vibrant half VGA-quality display – it’s a stunner and sits closer to the glass for superior clarity and sharpness.
Another notable upgrade is the QWERTY. BlackBerry’s full keyboards have always been great to thumb but the Bold’s prominent arrangement is a revelation, easily accommodating the fattest of digits with space to spare.
After slumming it with EDGE download speeds for eons, BlackBerry fanatics finally get to ride the 3.6kbps HSDPA express. The speed increase is noticeable, especially when web browsing, although the track ball doesn’t make for the slickest navigation tool when moving around the desktop web page view. Naturally, built-in Wi-Fi is ready for faster downloads if you hit a hotspot.
You could argue that the iPhone 3G only packs a two megapixel snapper but that doesn’t excuse the Bold’s feeble camera offering. With no autofocus, advanced photos mods and a weak LED flash, the set-up is a major letdown.
With BlackBerry Maps on board (Google Maps are also downloadable) and a built-in GPS receiver, the Bold is also poised for basic sat-nav. The receiver was quick to smoke out a sputnik fix, which comes in handy when geotagging your photos.
RIM was quick to integrated 3.5mm headphone sockets into its devices and plugging in your quality cans helps to enhance the Bolds audio performance. The music player’s 11-mode equalisers also dutifully adapt the fidelity for an admirably composed sound.
If it wasn’t for the meek camera, the BlackBerry Bold would right now be lauding it with five stars. That said, BlackBerry fans and especially newcomers looking for a highly connected seamless mobile emailing device with a nice line in multimedia trimmings and a classy design, will find the Bold hard to resist.