This is a very nice device. It’s not hugely exciting nor is it filled with the very latest gadgetry but it is a lovely form factor, has a decent keyboard, great battery life, an improved (from my last BB ownership) software collection and the new optical style keypad is way better than the previous trackball. I like the way that quite a few apps, some of which were initially only available on the iPhone such as Movies by Flixster and the Bloomberg financial application, are now available on just about every platform. This makes changing between platforms less painful if you know some of your important apps are going to be available on your next intended OS and is something I really welcome.
The 9700 sports version 5 of the BB operating system and I have noticed a few subtle differences that make using it a bit easier and more sensible such as proper threaded SMS conversations, a built in File Manager and the ability to delete apps from the Launcher. I have also not had any connection problems with software, apps seem able to detect automatically which connection to employ which wasn’t the case with my previous BB device and is another important change. In the Launcher view, the ability to “hide” apps you don’t use is a nice touch too.
So, out of the box how did the BB fare in comparison to the Nokia E72 that I had recently? Very well actually. When the device boots for the first time it throws up the set up “wizard’ and entering my GMail email and password brought instant email set up…(hello Nokia) and also the ability to sync Google Contacts too. Plus, the internet settings were all set up too so it was all very painless and commendable on RIM’s part. First impressions are important, a point some manufacturers seem to overlook, and the BB acquits itself very well. To be honest, my days of getting a new device and then spending half a day anally trying to get every bit of info I’ve accumulated in the past 10 years of smartphone/pda ownership onto it are long gone. Now, it’s case of getting email up and running first, finding good Twitter, Weather, Podcasting, Bloomberg, Flixster Movies apps and then loading on some pictures and getting GCal sync working via the downloadable Google Sync application. And that folks is about it these days and besides, the iPod Touch will be handling a lot of the fun stuff and some other more pda-like apps.
One thing I do like about the Bold, and it reminds me of the Treo 680, is the multitude of keyboard shortcuts available in most applications, made possible of course by having the qwerty pad. This is especially evident in the email software and in one or two 3rd party apps I have tried and it makes getting things done a cinch without needing to open the BB Menu (which can contain many items). Another thing that is nice about the BB Bold and other phones from RIM is that they make it easy to get information in via the keyboard quickly. In the Calendar and Tasks, for example, there’s no need to use the Menu to “add” you just need to start typing and a new calendar or task entry is created. I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the video recorder, not at all choppy and decently smooth whilst the camera takes pics that in my view are almost as good as those I witnessed on the Nokia E72.
Some other boring bits, yes it has very good call quality which you sort of expect from RIM, it is stable and is quicker than the BB Curve 8900 I had earlier on this year and as it has much more RAM then I’ve not had any memory issues to date. I’m not going to suddenly turn into some sort of BB fanboy and proclaim that it is the greatest OS in the world, mainly because I don’t think it is. What it does however bring is a great form factor, solid hardware, some very good apps (Berry Weather, for example, is the best weather app I have used on ANY platform) and the shape is my preferred ideal for a phone. Moreover, I have given the Pre SIM card to my son for his new Santa phone and this is now the only SIM card I have and as it is a BB “contract” I am now basically stuck with it for at least 6 months (I don’t think o2 allow “bolt-ons” to be switched until after 6 months) so like it or lump it, I’m going to have to go with the flow for the next while which is a bit worrying for a serial switcher like me but on the other hand it feels less of a worry now that I also have my new iPod Touch.