I’m now almost three weeks into using the BB9700 as my full time phone and so far so good. I need to temper this by saying that I’ve been relatively undemanding on it, certainly in respect of adding on 3rd party software as from day one my intention was to pair it with an iPod Touch and use the latter for most of my app needs. If I didn’t have the iPod Touch running all that great software, does anyone seriously believe anymore that the quality of software on the Apple AppStore isn’t the best in terms of choice and depth?, then things might be different but they’re not as I am.
Thus, the BB was bought to be used on the basis of limited requirements and those were….good battery life, be able to run good apps for Weather, Twitter, stock-tracking, be able to manage podcasts on the go, have a reliable signal strength, have a good keyboard to make text entry easy or rather easier than it was on the HTC Hero, have a decent camera with flash so pics can be taken in poor light and that was about it as far as essentials go. Just about everything else software-wise would be handled by the iPod Touch.
The biggest disappointment to date with the BB has been the keyboard. I loved the keyboard on the Curve 8900 I had previously, the keys were seperate and had a satisfying “click” when pressed so you always could tell when one had been pressed. I rarely mis-hit the intended letter. People also raved about the bigger keyboard on the bigger Bold 9000. RIM has tried to fit the Bold 9000 style keyboard into the smaller form factor of the Bold 9700 but should have just stuck with the 8900 style as the latter is superb. The keys are too small and too jammed together for my big digits, I have far too many mis-presses and often I’m pressing the button but nothing is happening. You have to really hit each button in the area of the top right hand corner to be accurate (where the raised bit of each key is) and I find this difficult. When I get it right things are good and I can type away quickly and accurately but overall I would say the keyboard has been a let down and is not as good as I hoped it would be. If you have a Curve 8900, don’t need 3G and do a lot of typing I’d recommend having a good workout with the 9700 keyboard first before making the switch.
Almost making up for the keyboard shortfalls though is the optical keypad which is a vast improvement over the trackball. I’ve set it at about 60% sensitivity and can move through the launcher and in-app menus very smoothly. My initial fear was that I’d be all over the place, shooting past icons and menu options as I struggled to control the thing but nothing has been further from the truth. This new set up is way better than the trackball on previous RIM phones however plus will not suffer the sticking trackball traits either.