BlackBerry 9000 Smartphone Review - Part II

24 Hours Later - More BlackBerry Bold 9000 Observations! 

By Kevin Michaluk on 7 May 2008 06:54 am EDT

[ BlackBerry Bold Review Series - Table of Contents ]

Sorry for the delays folks. Next time I get my hands on a pre-release device I’ll be sure to write Part II before putting Part I live. I’ve been inundated with emails and distractions since news of the eBay 9000’s emergence broke, and in true CrackBerry Addict fashion I try never to get too far behind on my emails (besides, it's giving me some practice on the 9000's keyboard!).

If you haven’t checked out Part I of this Hands-On BlackBerry 9000 review, I suggest taking a read through that first. In addition to lots of nice eye-candy shots and comparisons to existing BlackBerry devices on the market, it explains the story of how I ended up with a pre-release 9000 (it’s amazing what you can buy on eBay these days!). And while I was originally planning to cram everything into Part II, I've come to the realization that this will be a Series of Reviews. That said, in Part II I follow up with more reactions to the device itself after having spent more time on it and have also included a one cut, no excuses Video Overview (6 minutes) that will give you a first-hand look into what OS4.6 offers. Parts III and IV will dive deeper into OS4.6 (tons of screen captures and more video to come!).

[ Disclaimer: Changes to the Hardware and upgrades to the Software will likely be made before the BlackBerry 9000 is officially released ]

BlackBerry 9000 Features & Specifications

Ironically enough, despite having the device in my hands, I’ve found myself having to search back through to try and dig up some of the stats (ie. processor and chipsets). Pulling up the OS info on the device is easy, but it’s too bad there isn’t a System Properties screen or utility that will tell me the details straight out (at least I’m not aware of how to access this info from the device ). I’m actually tempted to bust out my jewelers screwdrivers and pull the device part… give me a few days. I don’t want to put the 9000’s life in jeopardy quite yet. So to the best of my knowledge, here’s what this particular BlackBerry 9000 is rock’n:

  • Bands - Quad-band GPRS/EDGE: 800/850/1800/1900MHz
  • HSDPA: 850/1900/2100MHz
  • Display - HVGA Color LCD (480×320) *definitely*
  • Camera - 2MP *max resolution 1600 by 1200, file size around 500kb*
    • NO additional front facing camera on this unit
  • Wi-Fi - a,b,g
  • A-GPS
  • Processor – Intel XScale PXA270 @ 624MHz *based on previous rumors*
  • Externally Accessible expandable memory - microSD
  • Battery - 1500mAh
  • Weight - ~140grams or 5 oz
  • Operating System Software - version (67)
  • On Board Memory (File Total) – 73.4 MB (probably an even 96MB to begin with like the 8330 Curve)
  • On Board Memory (File Free as received) – 19.8 MB

BlackBerry 9000 Internal Memory

Looking at the specs, the only feature here to disappoint is the BlackBerry 9000’s internal memory. Some of the early 9000 rumors suggested 1GB of internal memory which has not turned out to be the case. Ignore that one tiny factor, and the specs above make for a kick’n device – Quad-band GSM/3G/WiFi/GPS all in one, coupled to a fast processor and an amazing display. 

BlackBerry Bold 9000 Hardware Observations

Despite rumors and worries, in the time I have had the device the battery life appears to be pretty good. There is a lot more real-world testing to be done here as I’ve been in my home office and connected to WiFi, but despite a lot of playing around on the device the battery appears to be holding out strong. I’m gaining confidence that when the 9000 hits the market it won’t break RIM’s tradition of devices that easily go 24+ hours under “normal” use.

While it’ll take a few days before I can accurately comment on battery life (and even then it may not be accurate as this is likely a pre-release unit), in the short time I have spent with the 9000 there are few hardware aspects I can accurately comment on:

Speed – The 9000 is fast. Everything is quicker. And smoother. The Curve is a relatively speedy device, but I often find it’ll get “hung-up” – there can be slight lags when you’re doing something on the device (opening an app or menu option) or the device itself is doing something in the background (receiving email, pulling feeds, etc.). The 9000’s processor really flies through everything – no lags to report during regular use and it handles bigger tasks like photo capture and video recording with ease. Movies, music and images that are saved to media card open in a jiffy too. Swapping themes happens in a snap too. Web browsing via WiFi is also a lot faster than it currently is on my 8320 – likely the result of both improved protocols and the additional processing speed. Two thumbs up for speed.

Display – As mentioned above and in Part I of this BlackBerry 9000 review, it deserves repeating - the 480 by 320 LCD display is excellent. Even with the screen backlight turned all the way down to 10% the display is bright and clear and images look good. Oh, I almost forgot the best part – not only is the screen higher resolution, there’s more screen real estate as well. The 9000’s LCD is roughly the same height as the display on the Curve and 88xx at just over an 1½”,  but the 9000’s width measures in at 2¼” – pretty much a quarter inch gain. It might not sound like a lot, but coupled with the higher res the 9000’s display appears a lot bigger. Us BlackBerry users would never think it, but if you handed the device to a longtime Treo user they would mistake it for a touchscreen and start tapping at the 9000's shortcuts, which on the default Precision themes are nice and big.

The BlackBerry 9000's display adds a quarter inch in width The BlackBerry 9000's Display is Vibrant and Bright!
Measuring up the BlackBerry 9000's LCD Display

Keyboard – Subtle changes make a big difference. Since posting Part I of the review, I spent a good hour going back and forth between my 8830 and 9000 to try and figure out exactly where the differences lie. It’s strange, because the more I look at the two keyboards, the more identical they seem, yet the more I use both keyboards the more I realize the 9000’s is much improved. Maybe I’m hallucinating all of this, but here’s my story and I’m sticking to it: the 8800’s keys each have a pronounced ridgeline molded on top of a relatively flat key vs. the 9000’s where the raised portion of the key is on a more gradually incline. Translation: when you press a key on the 8800 and move to the next key, the keys themselves actually trip your thumbs up on the keyboard. The ridgelines catch your thumb as you move from key to key. On the 9000, when you put thumb to plastic the key to key transition is simply smoother, allowing you to type faster and seemingly with less errors.  

Subtle Changes Make a World of Difference When it Comes to Keyboards Give a BlackBerry to a Palm user and they Will Want to Touch the Screen
Note the Brightness of the Trackball!

MicroSD port – Externally accessible. The way it should be. I’m sure RIM will never manufacturer another smartphone where it will be necessary to remove the battery to insert the media card.

Sound Quality – I’ve taken a dozen calls now on the 9000, and the sound quality is excellent. No real surprise there. But what has surprised me is the quality of the 9000’s internal speakers. I’m guessing they received a major upgrade as for a little device the 9000 can really pump out the tunes. The Speakerphone is MUCH BETTER as well on both sides of the equation - people's voices come through nice and crisp and others have told me they would never have even realized I'm on speakerphone if I didn't tell them. It’s good to see RIM is taking this whole media / entertainment thing seriously.

GPS – Haven’t been able to test this out yet, as it seems BlackBerry maps didn’t come preloaded and Google Maps didn’t work (it installed ok, but got a “folder” as a shortcut on the home screen and when I clicked it I got an Exception error). It seems at this point 3rd party software developers will need to do some tweaking to make everything run smooth on 4.6.

Random BlackBerry Bold 9000 Observations:

LED – As if I already didn’t suffer from BlackBerry-induced A.D.D, RIM has gone ahead and made the notification LED even brighter. This thing is piercing. It’s impossible to ignore (and don’t say turn it off as that’s not really an option). Even as type this with 9000 by side, the red light is blinking and it feels like somebody is pointing a laser pointer at my eye. Nevermind 3G, this could be where the battery issue concerns have come from – the LED is sucking back the power. LOL :-)

Trackball – The trackball appears a little ‘too small’ for the device. It is the standard issue BlackBerry trackball, but with the 9000 being quite wide and the adjacent menu/back buttons being so big, it almost seems a little lost. But what it lacks in relative size, the 9000’s trackball makes up for in brightness. Just like the notification LED, this thing is BRIGHT. It’s like RIM put a xenon headlight under the hood.

Right Side Convenience Key – When palming the 9000 in my right hand, the location of the right side convenience key seems about ½ inch to low. I’m sure there’s a reason why RIM chose to do this – maybe there have been complaints of people accidentally hitting hit when using the volume controls or maybe it’s a hardware thing. Regardless, its location isn’t quite as convenient as it could be… at least for me.

Battery Door - The release catch for the battery door is located at the very bottom of the phone. Once pushed in, you can (relatively) easily remove the cover, which is more akin to a shallow tub as it makes up the entire backside of the phone. The metallic edging surrounding the camera and flash has a brushed finish to it – not so user-friendly for taking self-portraits.

SIM Card – No open/close latch – just slide it in. Thank you!

When it comes to the device itself, the BlackBerry 9000 has sleek looks, a full QWERTY form factor that’s comfortable and usable (even if you are from the Curve camp) and amazing hardware components. It’s a solid foundation to power a pimped up OS. Be sure to watch the video at the top of this post for a preview of OS4.6, and keep it locked to for Parts III and IV where we will dive deeper into this next generation smartphone.

Related Links:

Read BlackBerry Bold 9000 Review - Part I

Read BlackBerry  Bold 9000 Review - Part III

Discuss this Review in the CrackBerry Forums

Reader comments

BlackBerry 9000 Smartphone Review - Part II


Seems to be working again. Not sure what the hiccup was there. Maybe because it was just posted. Hopefully it'll work for you now!

Looks like YouTube or Rim took it off. They should officially announce it already. It isn't like we don't know what it's going to look like. The only surprise left is when the rest of us will be able to get our hands on it.

My microSD card is 8gb and the size of my pinky nail.. Memory is dirt cheap nowadays, I can't believe a $800+ device is sporting 73MB of memory before install. That is just crazy, make it an even 96 or 128MB like what standard ram levels used to be around y2k.

It'll "start" with an even number - probably like the 8330s with 96MB of memory. But some of that gets sucked up by the necessities and you lose a few megs from the file total.

I totally agree. I can't understand the thinking in putting such a miniscule amount of memory in a Blackberry. It's almost like no one wants to make a perfect phone; they always cut corners somewhere.

The memory is more then likely 96MB. Remember that the firmware takes a portion of that memory before the OS. The File Total shows what's left after Firmware, but without OS. File Free is what's left after OS and whatever other data/programs you have loaded. Still, 23MB is pretty big for a firmware and as the devices advance they can only go up. If I was RIM, I'd seriously consider memory on future and current devices as being a major weakpoint right now.

I have the video you where playing! Well It is pretty cool that you got it Kevin! if you get bored i'll send you my adress so you can let me play. :)

I certainly hope that this is not the final memory configuration. Unless RIM is going to allow users to store apps, emails and attachments etc. in an encrypted way on the memory card having 19MB left over is outdated and shows RIM is not ready for the real world.

I will buy one but only if there is sufficient memory to run the device and not worry about performance issues due to the memory.

My hope is this preview review is getting the attention it needs, iPhone be damned and I could care less if the launch is pushed back a few months if the BB9000 is done right. After all Apple is rumored to be using plastic on the new jesus phone, fan boys cry out.

Could be that this beta version of 4.6 is full of debug code thus taking up much more memory than in the final production version. It just seems crazy they'd ship it with only ~20MB free.

but I also cannot give RIM any room or credit that they will put in say 128MB to 256MB of memory. I mean leave a goo 50MB free would it kill them. In the end it is an engineering sample and it may have changes. Like I said elsewhere I will gladly get one at retail but it has to live up to the price tag.

yes I also completely agree about the memory. The processor 624Mhz is simply excellent, snappy and fast, which means ready for heavy duty multimedia, Office application,full support image HTML and other softwares. But with only 19MB Left memory to use, I think this would really defeat the purpose.

I believe we need at least 64Mb to be able to install many applications comfortably inside the blackberry. There are more and more applications released and this translates to higher memory demand for the blackberry.

I really did not want to ask this here on this forum, but everyone seems too knowlegable. Here it goes:

Is it at all possible for me to use a Blackberry calander simultaneously with a palm calander.

What about these features, and other new ones that we all 'need'?

What about picture quality? The picture quality on the curve has much to be desired.

I'm anxiously awaiting the release of this to AT&T!!
Beaming with excitement, I love my BB but miss 3G, for some reason my non BB contacts like to talk while I am chatting w/ my BB msgr contacts! *sheesh* LOL!

I'm afraid you bought a $828 brick that will never be able to connect to the BlackBerry infrastructure again.

Do you think Kevin would actually care if RIM decided to disable services to the device? He should win an award for the most effective use of advertising dollars ever.

I am sure the $828 has already paid itself off 100 fold.

whats up kevin. thanks for the overview of 9000. i like it and it has some great features, but i like the size of my curve better. i think the curve is just the right size. 9000 is about the size of the 8800s. i thought that was to big. thanks again man still waiting for 4.5 tho. LOL!

I just got finished listening to the 5 May podcast, and when I heard about the Ebay auction being pulled, and that only two of the three were yanked, I thought "uh huh, good job, Kev"

Good to know I was right-LOL I'd say I hate you, but even though I am jealous, I can't afford that kind of bank for a new BB, though I am thinking of gifting myself a new Pearl for my birthday in a couple of months.

I can't wait until I get my hands on a new 9000. And I thought that waiting for 4.5 was gonna be bad, where is the gun?lol You are the man Kevin, looking forward to part III of the review and some more screen time with the 9000.

I'm not gonna spend any more cash on a new phone (i have the 8310) for a year or more. Just gimme 4.5!!! What's the hold up!

Now, if the 9000 was also a touchscreen...that would be different.

dude you said they changed up the calculator but you didnt show us. please do this in the next video :) or post a screenshot

Thanks for the first two posts - I truly appreciate the advance look at my next phone. The only thing that would come close is an iPhone that would support Exchange and has Task support. The BB is awesome for email support and a great phone.

Hey Kev, I was just wondering what size memory card you have in the 9000 and how much of the memory on the card are you actually using because I found when I practicaly used up all of my 8gb card I got lags in the media start playing time. I just wanted to see if that was improved via the processor or if you just dont use as much memory on your memory card.

Hey Kevin, super nice video! But did you get a screen protector because in the video u were like touching the screen and such and I just hate smudges! Arr... But great job on acquiring the 9000!!!

I hope they release a non-camera version (i.e. 8820) to satisfy people like myself who work in sensitive environments.

Hi Kevin

The 8800 has MicroSD whereas the 8820 sports Micro SDHC, offering greater capacity.

I presume the BB9000 is MicroSDHC?

Congratulations on winning the Blackberry lottery..

Can someone touch on when its (the 9000) being released and what carriers (such as tmobile) have dibs on it??? Thanks........

OMG the screen looks like somebody taped a film picture over it.


Oh, yeah. WiFi.

It'll be a nice competition between Iphone & Blackberry. I'll wait til the iphone comes out and compare specs and buy the best one.

So have you confirmed that the processor is 624Mhz? If so, that'll be such a great leap. It'll beat any Pocket PC phone out there considering that the BB OS is a lot less bloated than WM6. I'd get this bad boy JUST on the basis of a 624 XScale.

Is this thing a worthy competitor to the iphone? It just seems like a 3g version of the curve. Does it have the smooth integration of apps with a PC? And what about the fact that all data flows through a NOC in Canada? I mean can we really trust Canadians?

Brand new Mobile phone Plasma tv , Laptop game at cheap price come with complete accessories with one year international warranty.

Email address :

BlackBerry Bold 9000...$300usd
HTC Touch Diamond...$350usd
NOKIA N95 8GB....$350USD
iPHONE 8GB……..$300USD
IPOD 32GB.........$280USD
NOKIA N96.........$400USD
PS3 60GB……....$300USD


BlackBerry Bold 9000 SPECIFICATION

624MHz processor
128MB flash RAM
1GB internal memory
480 x 320 resolution display
microSD/SDHC memory card slot
2 megapixel camera with flash and 5x digital zoom
Quad-band EDGE and tri-band HSDPA
Integrated GPS
Built-in Wi-Fi a/b/g
Bluetooth 2.0
Media player with 11 built-in equalizer pre-sets
Speaker Independent Voice Recognition (SIVR) for Voice Activated Dialing (VAD)


Email address:

So I have Verizon and Im due for an upgrade. My dad just got a curve its awesome but now looking at blackberrys I see this amazing new phone.

So the question is do I wait for the Bold to be released for Verizon or do I buy the curve now?


Does it really use the PXA270? I thought it was to use Tavor, which combines an Xscale CPU w/ an HSDPA baseband on one chip.

Does anyone know of a way to unlock the bold to potentially work on another network? I have Verizon and am overall pleased with my service (that and I under contract until 2009-10), but notice they are behind the times on getting the latest phones. Will it be available on verizon or if not, is someone working on an unlock code for it? Thanks.

Hi folks,

since I can´t really wait to get it to my hands, my biggest concern is, that the US version might not be running properly here in Europe (Germany). Maybe I´m too anxious, but I just want to be sure not to make the wrong decision in ordering a US version. Would be great to get some information from you, because it seems to me that you all have much more experience in using blackberrys than me, as an absolute rookie.

Thank you for your help!

Hi folks,

since I can´t really wait to get it to my hands, my biggest concern is, that the US version might not be running properly here in Europe (Germany). Maybe I´m too anxious, but I just want to be sure not to make the wrong decision in ordering a US version. Would be great to get some information from you, because it seems to me that you all have much more experience in using blackberrys than me, as an absolute rookie.

Thank you for your help!

Hi folks,

since I can´t really wait to get it to my hands, my biggest concern is, that the US version might not be running properly here in Europe (Germany). Maybe I´m too anxious, but I just want to be sure not to make the wrong decision in ordering a US version. Would be great to get some information from you, because it seems to me that you all have much more experience in using blackberrys than me, as an absolute rookie.

Thank you for your help!

Hi folks,

since I can´t really wait to get it to my hands, my biggest concern is, that the US version might not be running properly here in Europe (Germany). Maybe I´m too anxious, but I just want to be sure not to make the wrong decision in ordering a US version. Would be great to get some information from you, because it seems to me that you all have much more experience in using blackberrys than me, as an absolute rookie.

Thank you for your help!

Hey Kevin! Thanks for the great review! I'm definitely excited about the Bold. My only concern is about the Bold's screen getting scratched up very easily. Have you experienced that with this this device?

I was wondering, how is the phone quality? Did you have any problems with hearing on the receiver end? Did calls come in clear? Did you get any good service while on the Bold? PLEASE LET ME KNOW! Thanks!!!! Loved the article! VERY VERY INFORMATIVE!!

Oops. Didn't realize he noted that in the article already. Excited to hear that the phone quality is I was definitely worried about that!!

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hi kevin

Im a newbie to this site.
Just wondered when bell will have the blackberry tour.
They gave me 2 different dates.
July and september.
I cant wait. Dont have a blackberry yet.
Been waiting for this one !