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Review on Blackberry Bold 2 9700

There have been quite a few reviews on the Bold 2 9700, but thought I would share my own personal thoughts of it especially in relation to its use in Malaysia and a direct comparison to its predecessor the Bold 9000. To avoid confusion I would refer to each of the Bolds by its model number.

Looks: Size & Weight:

The 9700 does look quite sleek but doesn’t push any design boundaries sticking very firmly to its Blackberry roots. Rubberized buttons, chrome finish and a leather backing still makes it feel like a premium phone but it doesn’t stand out as much as a phone say like the Droid. In fact it looks very similar to a Tour + Curve combined.

The 9700’s size has been shrunk a lot and is now just very slightly longer than the Curve 8900 (in fact unless you put them side by side, you won’t see the difference). It is a HUGE difference from the 9000.

Weight of the 9000 is 136 grams while the 9700 is slightly lighter at 122 grams. Holding it in your hands, it’s hard to tell the difference except that the 9700 feels a lot more ‘dense’.

9000 on the left, 9700 on the right

9000 on the left, 9700 on the right

Back view. Both using the leather backing.

Back view. Both using the leather backing.

As you can see the 9700 is slightly thinner

As you can see the 9700 is slightly thinner

The memory card slot is only accessible once you take off the cover on the 9700.

The memory card slot is only accessible once you take off the cover on the 9700. It's that groove in between the camera and flash.

Minor gripe is that unlike the 9000, the 9700’s memory card slot can only be accessed when taking off the battery cover. The 9700’s battery cover mechanism is a simple sliding mechanism as compared to the 9000’s dual clips but the 9700’s cover still fits snugly without rattling and makes those battery pulls a lot easier.

Keyboard:

The keyboard has been shrunk slightly and those who are used to the 9000’s plush keypad will find that it takes a while to get used to the 9700’s. However it is worth noting that the 9700’s keyboard occupies almost the entire width of the phone as compared to the 9000 which still has a chrome edge, so you aren’t losing as much as space as you would think.

Tactile wise, there’s a good bounce to the keypad, similar to the 9000 and typing is a pleasure and feels less plasticky than on the 8900 or the 8520 .

Trackball vs Trackpad:

This is an obvious win for the 9700.  The first few seconds felt weird when you were used to feeling a sphere for rolling about but the trackpad works VERY well. Slight strokes were detected and it was a lot more responsive than the trackball. No more dirt and grime to ruin your experience and no more replacement trackballs.

After a few days of use, you realize how it changes your experience of your Bold positively and to me is a significant step forward.

Battery Life

This was another very pleasant surprise. Now the Bold 9000 and 9700 use the exact same battery. For testing purposes, I used my 9000 battery inside my new 9700 one just to see how much of a difference it would make. Previously on OS5.0, the 9000 would last maybe about 14-16 hours before going into the red with moderate use. Now this jumps DRASTICALLY with the 9700. Using the exact same 1500 mah battery, it lasted past the 20-22 hour mark with moderate to heavy use with 3G on. In fact I think it might have gone well past 24 hours but I decided it was best to charge it to prepare for the upcoming day. This is pretty amazing considering it packs the same processor and it’s on 3G.

The 9700 also seemed to get a lot less hot than its predecessor which sometimes can feel a bit toasty.

Call Quality/3G Signal

Nothing that notable here. Similar sounding to other Blackberry phones. It is perhaps a little clearer as the ear piece is less depressed as compared to other Blackberry models. I haven’t had extended time to test whether calls are dropped but as of yet, no dropped calls yet.

I found something particularly peculiar. Whenever I streamed Youtube or Flycast my connection to the Blackberry servers will cut off but the streaming will go on with no issues. Once the youtube video ends, it would resume the 3G connection after a short wait. Not sure if this is a telco, OS or hardware issue. I had similar issues with the 9000 so perhaps it’s a telco issue.

Speaker

The sound from the speakerphone seems slightly inferior to the Bold’s sounding slightly more tinny and had a more ‘echoey’ effect. This is probably a result of the shrinking of the form factor. It is however still decent and can be used for casual listening.

OS5.0 and Responsiveness

I won’t cover this too much here as I have done so in my previous post but compared to the 9000 running on OS5.0, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did seem a tad snappier and more responsive than the 9000 despite it running on similar hardware. I believe I can attribute this to the 9000’s OS5.0 build still being a beta unreleased version while the 9700 being a more refined version.

Browser did feel more snappy with it loading pages with no issues.

I did notice that the Blackberry Messenger now allowed you to decide which size to send your pictures in (something I did not notice previously on my 4.6 build which forced you to send in full resolution) which is a very important and nice touch. Having already wiped my previous Bold of all data, I am unable to test if that BBM had a similar feature.

Camera

The pictures the 9700’s 3.2 megapixel camera takes are pretty respectable and performs its job well. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Last pic is a low light picture taken at 6.40 PM.

IMG00005-20091127-1043

IMG00009-20091128-2130

IMG00008-20091128-1659

IMG00001-20091124-1242

IMG00003-20091126-1836

Screen

Screen is luscious with it boasting a 480×360 resolution (same as the 8900 curve and the Storm 2) which is up from the 9000’s 480×320 resolution. Ultimately this to me makes little difference as the screen is too small to actually notice such minor differences.

New Buttons

There’s now ‘buttonless buttons’ on top of the 9700. The left one locks the keypad while the right one sends the device into standby. A nice touch but I remembered accidentally putting the phone on standby and looking all over for the Mute button. Yes, real men don’t read manuals…

Price Currently

The 9700 is available in Malaysia from unofficial sources ranging from MYR2500-3000. Prices are similar in Singapore. Prices are continuing to climb as demand shoots up. I bought mine at MYR2700.00. Frankly this is way too much to pay for a slight revamp of the 9000. I expect prices to be a lot lower once Celcom and Maxis officially release it though there has not been a price indication so if you are not in a hurry, I suggest you wait.

For reference when the Bold 9000 was first released it was at RM1800.00 and then price increased to RM2.2-2.4k.

Conclusion

The Bold 9700 is a good update improving on all of its predecessor’s shortcomings (browser is still not perfect but has improved). However it also does not introduce anything  really new or revolutionary and hence cannot be considered a ‘must-upgrade’. I would however recommend this highly for anyone moving from the older 8xxx series or are new to Blackberries. The Bold 9700 provides a stellar ‘Blackberry’ experience with no major gripes besides its currently high price.

Pros:

  • Amazing battery life
  • Great trackpad experience
  • No obvious flaws
  • Good responsiveness
  • Camera is pretty respectable

Cons:

  • Currently expensive price
  • Nothing revolutionary, just an update of the Bold 9000
  • Still needs a new browser
  • Smaller keyboard might not suit those with big fingers

0 Comments

  1. Adrian says:

    bro. spot on review. got mine 2 days ago at RM2499. 1st BB for me.
    However am having issues getting the desktop manager to detect the bb.
    Just showed ‘before u begin, verify that your current Blackberry device is connected to your computer’.
    Pin shows as none. uninstall & reinstall also dun work. check various forums and still no solutions.
    Any such problem on yours? Thanks.

  2. Adrian says:

    Got mine at Midvalley.
    Sorted the problem. Its just the installation setup.
    I set at restricted to me when it should have been for all users.
    So no probs now..
    Ahh.. one more thing, do u get a rattling sound when u tap the top part somewhere near the bold word at the back?
    Is this normal? Or there is something loose inside. Its a minor prob but its annoying.

  3. Simon says:

    Have you found a screen protector for this phone yet?

  4. davitz38 says:

    Hi Adrian,
    I noticed the same noice, brand new and it seems like there is something loose inside 🙁
    this phone is awesome!!!
    Cheers

  5. Nik says:

    Hi Reuben,
    I’ve came across this website from LYN trade zone 🙂
    a very informative review i must say.
    I currently am using curve 8520 and my heart tells me to change to bold 2 hehe…
    what’s your take on upgradng to 9700 from 8520?
    is it worth everthing?
    i’m gathering as many info/opinions as possible before deciding to upgrade or not.
    can you help?
    thanks!

    -nik-

    • Reuben says:

      Hey Nik!

      The 8520 is an excellent starter blackberry device offering all the basic functions of a Blackberry at a very affordable price. The 9700 can’t really be compared to the 8520 due to this price differential. However notable differences are:

      1) The 8520’s camera is usable but the 9700’s one is pretty good for a camera phone.
      2) 8520 screen resolution is very noticeably blurrier due to the much higher res on the 9700.
      3) 8520 is lighter than the 9700 by quite a bit although size wise they’re about the same.
      4) Memory and processor speed are much higher on the 9700 and this translates to general better performance.
      5) You have 3G on the 9700.

      At the end of the day the main question is that are you willing to pay a premium for features that are for the most part, non-essential but nevertheless very nice to have? The 8520 is an AirAsia blackberry, cheap, fun and gets stuff done but the 9700 is the first class Singapore airlines treatment with all the bells and whistles.

      The 9700 is the ultimate traditional blackberry device out there with the best of everything that is Blackberry (perhaps with the exception of the keypad which I still prefer the old 9000).

      Hope this helps Nik!

  6. nik says:

    Hey reuben!
    Thank you for your explainations, it helped!
    When weight is the issue,I’ll stick to this airasia 🙂 but I think I would have no problem to carry a heavy bold 2 rather than carrying a laptop everywhere.
    But when it comes to the pricing, I would think 2-3 times for the worthiness in all aspects.
    I’ll go for a ‘test drive’ on this singapore airlines to experience better before deciding to own it.
    Thanks for your help Reuben, I appreciate it.
    Till then, bye!

  7. M I R says:

    I wonder why some of the bb appilcations cant be downloaded …disclamer – “Device not supported”……just got to know that the application is not available in Malaysia….???……….

    For instance: Bloomberg application………i need it on my bb 9700 (Celcom) but i cant get it……..but compared to my wife’s iPhone (Maxis)……. the Bloomberg application works very well…….how bizzare is that ….

    We are talking about user’s experience here…………how bizzare is this situation ya???…….anyone got to say about this…

    Amir

  8. zaini says:

    hi, need yr views. im having little problem with the keypads. some of the letter which are G, H and J is acting like not enough bounce back spring. u have to push it down hard. anyone facing the same prob?

  9. leah says:

    i just lost my bb bold. anyone wants to sell their bb bold ???

  10. logan says:

    i like it a lot more than the first, faster, smaller, more pratical. fun games, great for business. way better than my old tour. very happy with it. got a few off gsmauthority.com and we love them. 9 out of 10 stars.

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