Last month I posted my initial review of the Blackberry Bold 9930 and, at the end of the review, I promised a follow-up post once I had some mileage on the unit. Well, after one month I think I have a pretty good handle on the pros and cons of Blackberry’s latest release.
Research in Motion (RIM) continues to slip in the industry and that’s a shame because, in my opinion, they do make quality products and they work well, especially in the enterprise market. The Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) gives administrators the utmost control of their mobile fleet although I venture to guess very few take advantage of the power BES can offer.
I’m not an Apple/Droid/WinMo hater. I think they all make solid products and their phones are selling like crazy so, if anything, their marketing dollars are being well spent. Just like automobiles, we all have our preferences and needs. I welcome the competition as it keeps the smart phone market fresh with new innovations released monthly.
The following are my impressions after a month with the Blackberry Bold 9930.
Spoiler alert… I still love the phone but it’s not perfect.
The touch screen is responsive and works very well but I don’t find myself using it all that often. Maybe it’s the fingerprints on the screen or the fact I can do everything I need to do with the keyboard or the touch pad. I have had an issue with my favorite shopping app, Our Groceries, randomly adding, deleting list items if I don’t lock the unit before placing it in my pocket. I’m chalking this up to an application that has not been updated to version 7 of the Blackberry operating system.
When I need to reboot the phone, which is not very often, it boots quickly (less than a minute). This is a HUGE difference from past units that could take 3-4 minutes to restart.
The battery life is acceptable and it gets me through an 8-10 hour work day. It’s typically down to about 30% when I go to bed. This is similar to what I was getting with my past two Blackberry phones (8530 & 8330) and the Windows Mobile phone before that. I don’t know to many people who can get more than a day out of their smart phone these days unless they are just not using it.
They keyboard continues to shine for long emails or note taking sessions. My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that it’s a little “poppy” sounding. I’m thinking it’s the membrane under the keys. I’m curious to see if it gets quieter with age (or I just get used to it).
As far as build quality the Blackberry Bold 9930 is solid. Everything fits nicely and the seams are tight. I had a raised piece of trim near the keyboard out of the box but it’s stayed in place once I pressed it down a few times. The touch screen and “glass” fiber back are fingerprint magnets but without a screen protector of any kind I can’t find a single scratch on the unit. I was hoping the front screen would use the “Gorilla Glass” that’s showing up on more and more smart phones units but whatever RIM is using seems to work.
Overall I’ll have to say I’m really happy with the Blackberry Bold 9930. It’s has some really nice features, solid build quality, and a powerful processor that keeps up with everything I ask it to do.
One nice thing about my job is I don’t have to pay Verizon $250 to own one (which I might if I had to)!
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.