Hands On – Blackberry Bold 9930

Having practically grown up with technology (my first computer was an Apple IIc in the mid-80’s) I always get excited when I hear about new or updated products.  The mobile phone market, especially the “smart” phone, has exploded over the past few years and manufacturers are pumping out new makes and models at an astounding pace.

Once at the top of the mountain Research in Motion (RIM) has had it’s share of setbacks mainly from the folks at Apple who have found a way to brainwash people into thinking the iPhone is the only phone to have.  I don’t want to turn this into a manufacturer bashing as I feel the company’s at the top of the pile are there on their own merits.  I just feel like a physical keyboard makes the Blackberry feel more like a tool than a toy…  I do, however, love my iPod Touch and use it for all things media (and gaming).

Where was I?…   Oh yeah, Blackberry!  After a long, and painful to watch, slide out global dominance the brainiac at RIM have a new line of phones rolling out to phone vendors all over the USA.  Will these new models help prop up the best thing to come out of the Great White North since Bob and Doug McKenzie and the Kids in the Hall?  Let’s find out…

First of all, I have to say the expanded keyboard of the 9930 is unreal.  It’s slightly wider than past 9000 series phones and a better fit for my hands than the Bold 9650 that I just retired.  Key travel & tactile feedback are exactly as they should be (present but not over done) & I see myself typing longer emails and blog posts with it.

This is the first Blackberry with a full time QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen (if you don’t count the Torch “slider” model).  Having used something similar in a last life (i.e. Palm Treo 700x) the idea of keyboard and touch screen is not new.  What is new is having the ability to use a track pad, and multi-touch screen that negates the need for a stylus (remember those?).

The Blackberry Bold 9930 is also the thinnest and lightest unit ever made by RIM.  The metal wrapped sides is slightly reminiscent of the latest generation iPhone.  RIM choose to locate the antenna on the bottom edge of the unit to avoid the dreaded death grip that had been an issue with past smartphone models.

Rounding out all of this Fan Boy praise I need to mention the lightning quick processor speed, OS7, built in compass and the HD video recording capabilities.

So, is there anything wrong with the 9930?  In a word, yes.  It’s nothing earth shattering and most of it will probably be fixed over time but this phone is not perfect.

One of my first complaints is the reduction of convenience keys to a single button placed awkwardly on the lower right side.  These keys on past units could be programmed for many functions including application launch and voice commands.  Third party tools extended this capability to allow for multiple functions dictated by the number of sequential presses.  One press for the camera, two presses for the calendar, etc.

The 5MP camera has whats called “Extended Depth of Field” and is fixed focus.  It’s not a show stopper but your pictures will definitely look a lot different with everything in front and back of the subject in focus.

The 9930 is the first Blackberry to incorporate Near Field communications (NFC).  It’s a newer technology that has a lot of potential for simplified transactions, data exchange, and connections with a touch of the phone to a special device or tag.  This is all great but Verizon has chosen to DISABLE this feature.  This reminds me of the days where they would disable Bluetooth on phones.  The good news is the NFC hardware is there and leaked OS upgrades appear to enable the feature so all is not lost.  The adoption of NFC is also still in its infancy so I’m not missing much.

Lastly, there are the non-working apps.  OS7 requires some modifications on the part of the developers and as of today about 15% of my installed applications are not functioning properly.  I’m hoping this is a short-term problem & anxiously await to get Pandora working again!  (ha ha).

Specs and pricing for the Blackberry Bold 9930 can be found here.  It’s also available on other carriers under the Bold 9900 model number (same phone, different carrier radio type).

I’ll plan on posting a follow-up in a few months after I get some 9930 time under by belt.  If it’s anything like the first 48-hours I think I’ll be back here singing it’s praises.

 

One thought on “Hands On – Blackberry Bold 9930”

  1. $250 with a 2 yr contract on Verizon though when ALL (Except the 32 GB iPhone) of the other high-end smart phones are $200 are less? That’s just ridiculous.

    Unfortunately for RIM, I think its too little too late… They’ve done nothing to address the lack of development for the BB platform, and have fallen WAY behind in the public’s eye. They needed to break into the market with a phone to blow everyone away with its capabilities and ease of use (have the industry best keyboard can only take you so far) and all they did was release an incremental improvement to the same phone design that they’ve used for the past 10 years.

    I also think they need to revisit their infrastructure itself. Delivering email via messaging agents made sense when Activesync was poorly implemented on almost every phone, but now it’s RIM who is behind the times. Activesync can do so much more now enforcing the critical policies (require encryption, remote wipe, etc.) without all of the hassle of deploying IT policies via the BES server.

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