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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.