BlackBerry Bold - The Business Perspective

BlackBerry Bold Review - The Business Perspective
By Craig Johnston on 20 Oct 2008 03:51 am EDT
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[ note from Kevin: No CrackBerry Podcast this week, but at least we've got Podcast co-host and BlackBerry Expert Craig Johnston coming at you on the blogs! Thanks Craig!! ]

There have been a lot of BlackBerry Bold reviews done over the last few months. All have been great reviews that show off the features of the BlackBerry Bold. All of these reviews are excellent in their own way and very useful, however I wanted to concentrate on what a business user would gain by purchasing a BlackBerry Bold over another BlackBerry model.

What specifically would the business person gain and how would that benefit them.

The Phone

The phone seems like an unlikely candidate for a review like this but the Bold has two significant advantages over all current BlackBerry models on sale now. These two advantages do provide a business person the upper hand while on the road.

Call Quality

Because the BlackBerry Bold now has a 3G radio, when you are in 3G coverage and make a phone call, that phone call travels over the 3G network. This allows the call to have a higher quality over a typical GSM call. While not much information is available explaining why the call quality is better, I would make an educated guess that it has to do with more available bandwidth (higher speed network) which leads to less compression of the actual audio. Less compression always means better quality.

Think of audio compressed into an MP3 at different rates. The higher the bit rate, the better the audio sounds.

The Bold also seems to have better internal acoustics which help the pickup of speech. In a business world, sounding more professional on the phone is a big advantage, and with more and more business people making calls from their mobile devices, having that speech sound more like a landline is key.

Talk and Work at the Same Time

The technology that empowers the GSM 3G networks allow for simultaneous voice and data. This means that you can be on the phone, but continue to send and receive emails, or view web pages in the browser. This is very beneficial in a business environment when someone may be asking you to read an email they just sent, while they speak to you on the phone.

While Verizon and Sprint (and other CDMA carriers) have had a 3G network in place, and 3G capable BlackBerry smartphones, the EVDO 3G network cannot support simultaneous voice and data. The original name for EVDO was Evolution Data Only, but it was later changed to Evolution Data Optimized to de-emphasis the fact that EVDO did data only.

In a business world, having the edge to be able to read that last minute email while on a call is key.

Screen

We all know that the screen on the BlackBerry Bold is far larger than the current crop of BlackBerry smartphones. Not much larger physically, but much larger pixel-wise. The current full QWERTY BlackBerry models have screens that are 320x240 pixels in size. The BlackBerry Bold's screen is 480x320 pixels in size.

This allows for more information to be displayed and therefore is beneficial in a number of ways.

Attachment Viewing

For now we will ignore the DocumentsToGo feature (which I will cover later) and concentrate on the regular attachment viewing.

As a business person you want to be able to view attachments on your mobile device with the highest clarity, and be able to fit the most text and graphics in as possible.

On-screen Size

When you open a document on a BlackBerry Bold, you are normally able to fit more of the document onto the screen than on current models. This is in part due to the extra pixels available which allow for a higher clarity of text rendering.

Take a look at Figure 1 and Figure 2 below. Figure 1 shows an Excel file viewed on a BlackBerry Curve, while Figure 2 shows that same file viewed on a Bold.

Excel on Curve
Figure 1: MS Excel on a Curve

Excel on Bold
Figure 2: MS Excel on a Bold

In both of these examples the same font and font size was used, and the same cell size was selected. You notice that the Bold shows more characters per cell which is obvious in column A where the Curve cannot complete the name "Alice Mutton". Even though both devices were set exactly the same, the Curve still tries to fit more columns in and so further compresses the display.

Viewing a Word document shows off more of the extra space available to the Bold as seen in Figure 3 and 4 below.

MS Docs on Curve
Figure 3: MS Word on a Curve

MS Docs on Bold
Figure 4: MS Word on a Bold

Here we also see the crispness of the font rendered on the Bold compared to the Curve. While the Bold's screen is larger, we see that the Bold's rendering of the document has about a one word advantage horizontally compared to the Curve.
Finally in Figure 5 below we can see the Curve's screen of 320x240 overplayed on the Bold's screen at 480x320.

Screen Size Overlay
Figure 5: Screen size overlay

This extra screen real estate and extra screen clarity goes beyond attachment viewing. It is evident in third party application design. Vendors can now fit more on one screen than ever before. Imagine financial applications where as much data is squeezed onto each screen as possible. Potentially every third party BlackBerry application can take advantage of this extra space and clarity and over time this will translate into saved time and more productivity.

Web Browsing

The BlackBerry Bold is running BlackBerry software 4.6. This software includes a large browser enhancement over the current models. This browser renders web pages in a way that makes them appear much closer to the way they would appear on a desktop computer. This ability in conjunction with the extra screen size greatly enhances the mobile web browsing experience.

Web page on Curve
Figure 6: Web page on a Curve

Web page on Bold
Figure 7: Web page on a Bold

As you can see in Figure 6 and 7 above, the Curve cannot really render this web site accurately. In fact for this test, I set the Curve to use the Desktop View, which is how the Bold renders pages by default. The Curve rendered the content completely inaccurately while the Bold showed the site almost exactly how it appears on a desktop.

Website on Curve
Figure 8: Mobile site on a Curve

Website on Bold
Figure 9: Mobile site on a Bold

Figures 8 and 9 show a site which has detected the BlackBerry browser and redirected to a mobile version of their site. Even here you can see how much better the Bold renders this page. The experience is full of rich content and formatting compared to the bare bones plain text approach of the Curve.

Firefox Emulation on Bold
Figure 10: Mobile site using Firefox emulation

The Bold can render the site even more accurately when you select the Firefox emulation in the browser as can be seen in Figure 10 above. In this case the advertisement at the top of the screen is now displayed.

The idea that displaying web sites more accurately goes beyond browsing the internet. It translates to companies internal web sites too. Now business users can make use of internal web resources a lot more efficiently than before. Imagine internal business unit portal sites, request systems, trouble ticket systems, dash board systems, or reporting systems.

In addition to web sites that users view on their own, many companies make use of the BlackBerry's ability to push web pages out to devices. Many companies push out web pages into the BlackBerry's InBox (called a Web Message) or to the home screen of the BlackBerry (called a Channel). The design of these pages can now be altered to take advantage of the extra space and clarity making them even more useful than before.

Keyboard

I had become quite addicted to the BlackBerry Curve keyboard and could type away quite quickly. When the Curve was released it seemed to have a much better keyboard than the slightly older BlackBerry 8800 at the time.

Now the BlackBerry Bold's keyboard has taken it to the next level. The Bold's keys are comfortable to press, very well laid out, and just the right size.

The combination of these attributes makes the Bold's keyboard the best in the business so far. When I type on a Bold I get sensation of a luxurious feel. Even the way the keys press in and out feels great. When I switch back to a Curve I can feel the extra pressure on my thumbs as I type.

CPU Speed

The BlackBerry Bold has a 624 MHz CPU inside that speeds up the performance of the Bold compared with the 312 MHz CPU used in the current models. This translates into snappier menu actions, snappier screen changes, snappier web page rendering (especially tabled), and overall faster device operation. In a busy mobile world, this extra speed translates into a business user getting things done quicker. Over time, those little micro-second time savings per action, translate into multiple minutes of saved time.

Network Speed

The BlackBerry Bold is not the first 3G BlackBerry. It is not even the first 3G GSM BlackBerry. The first 3G GSM BlackBerry was the 8707 which was sold outside of the US. This BlackBerry however, is the first 3.5G BlackBerry. It uses HSDPA which allows for accelerated download speeds.

First of all, the BlackBerry Bold will now be a very welcomed upgrade to the aging 8707 model. I am quite sure that there will be an uptick in BlackBerry upgrades from the 8707 to the Bold, if this hasn't happened already.

Secondly, the data speeds that can be achieved on the GSM 3.5G network, far exceed what is possible on GPRS or EDGE speeds today. These speeds allow everything to be accelerated. Web page downloading, attachment downloading, address lookup speeds, and third party application data access.

Today EDGE's maximum download speed is 236 KB/s while HSDPA is 1.8 MB/s. Of course you won't get these maximums on daily use, but overall HSDPA is significantly faster than EDGE.

While the US's AT&T network is not a poster child for 3.5G networks, in most places around the world, the 3.5G experience is unforgettable.

Device Design

This is more of a subjective benefit, but one that many business users take into account. The BlackBerry Bold's design is very up market and professional. Everything about the design of the Bold says sophistication. Many business users feel that using a device that looks sophisticated makes them appear more professional. The design of the Curve for example is a more "plasticy" and cheap. While we all know that the Curve is still a great device and not specifically cheap, it just doesn't look corporate.
The Bold fits the corporate image. It is a device that executives will want to be seen using. Some may even have the opinion that it is a bit embarrassing to be seen using a Curve because of its non-corporate image.

Conclusion

The BlackBerry Bold has many advantages over the current BlackBerry models. It is a sophisticated device that is also at the top of the technology game when it comes to screen, network speed, and CPU power.

However all of these benefits need to be weight against the price. Depending on how much your carrier charges for this device compared with the current models will ultimately determine if you can purchase it. The business benefits of the Bold are many, but if the carrier prices the device out of your companies reach, then it will just sit unused in their warehouses. Let's hope that the carriers price the Bold accordingly.

Topics: Enterprise

Reader comments

BlackBerry Bold - The Business Perspective

23 Comments

Woohooo!! Finally, that long promised blog post...talk about taking a long time and Kevin thought I was slow at writing, I kid..I kid..haha!! Great review Craig, was a pleasure to read it from a different perspective considering I'm only a "consumer" user, although...being a part of CB makes me push the device to near business user levels (if not more then). ;)

Great post! I'll definitely refer others to this post whenever I'm asked questions about my Bold and how it compares to other BB devices.

Craig, great to see you making your post debut! Been waiting a long, long time Sir!

A very fair and even handed writeup, a credit to the cause. I myself found much of what you wrote during my first few days with the Bold, and while I don't consider myself a business user per-se (since I'm a SysAdmin), I find a lot of the features mentioned useful in my every day worklife.

Thanks again for the great writeup, and I look forward to seeing many more posts from you in future!

As a business user of the Bold, I agree with this review. To maker your Bold even better, team it up with a Piel Frama case and you have one very slick looking and operating unit.

Craig,

You have made a very good case for why the Bold should be utilized in the business arena. Well thought out and organized. Nice Job!

Great Post!! If you take out the consideration of touchscreen of the Storm, overall which device do you think is better??

Excellent review. As the release date draws ever closer it is refreshing to read what we already know from a different perspective. I do wish that the cited data rates were a reality to the everyday user. Are the represented screen sizes to be taken seriously or just for show?

The images shown are true representations of the screen sizes. They are all screen shots taken from the respective devices and the image sizes were not enlarged or reduced.

So what you see is what you will get.

Apparantley, the screen with the football player above was on a Cure (Verizon) I have it. For all of you AT&T users out there, the Verizon Curve does have a screen that handles html and pictures very nicely. However, the Bold will be a big step up for AT&T users but the overall browsing experience will provide little, if no change, for Verizon Customers when it comes to your non-Storm display phones. If it were me, I would by the storm before any other phone f I was an AT&T customer because AT&T continues to have lame screen and user face layouts; including internet browsing appearance.

This was a Curve, but not a Verizon Curve.
It was running OS 4.2.2 so does not have the OS 4.5 browser enhancements.
Even so, the enhancements in OS 4.6 are far better than OS 4.5. In addition, the CPU speed of the Bold handles the rendering a lot better, not to mention more screen real estate to display more of the page.

From a business perspective, the BlackBerry Storm does not make sense. I'm sure it will creep in, but it will not be the dominant device used.

Thanks for a great review. Apparently, AT&T will be getting the Bold next Monday so I can go see for myself, and odds are that I will have a a couple of new Bolds to play with next Monday.

I do pause, a bit, at news that the Storm is going to be released as a 3.5G version in the first quarter of next year (yes, in Europe, but a US version would have to come soon). In the past, I could not have waited for a future release--it is just my nature--but the passage of time waiting for the Bold, and age (again, occuring while waiting for the Bold), have taught me some patience, and the Storm 3.5G seems to have all of the great features of a Bold with a huge screen and some zippy new features (such as the neato haptics, accelerometer, etc.).

Is your hesitation because of the lack of a physical keyboard or the look of the Storm? The last touchscreen phone I had was an HTC/AT&T WinMo phone, and I have played with iPhones; I didn't have much luck typing on either and did not think that the WinMo phone looked like a business device. The iPhone doesn't look like a business device, either, but it is a closer call.

Whether or not an on-screen keyboard is a business contender, having watched the storm videos, it looks to me like it is a two handed, stare-at-the-screen-and-pay-attention-in-a-teeange-way device. That would be my major criticism from a business perspective. It would make it much more difficult to appear to pay attention to those around me when I am really checking my phone. I admit that I use my Blackberry while driving, walking, talking, and writing, and a one handed operation is pretty essential. Further, I have grown to love and use the keyboard shortcuts for fast operation, and I wonder whether the iconified touch screen will be as useful.

Anyway, just curious why you think so. It seems to me that alot of people on Crackberry and elsewhere spend alot of time and energy thinking about their next purchase and evaluating each phone to the nth degree, and I am no exception. The Bold is on my horizon, but there is a Storm lurking just over the horizon, so I am curious why you think the Storm is not a good business device.

Best,

Charlie V

Agreed, however I am using 4.3 still and my browser looks like the example above. However, I would use the Bold for business purposes too.

awesome review- Can't wait to read your other stuff that SHOULD be coming soon! I do have a question though. With the new 4G network coming soon, does anyone know if LTE will allow simultaneous voice and data?

It is nice to read the review from a business perspective. We usually hear about the bold vs iphone. Never from the business aspect which it was created for.

great review Craig. i can't wait till it gets released. hopefully the rumor of Oct. 27th release date will be true.

Great Review Craig!

There is someone who has his BB Bold for trade at commuto[dot]com. I guess he didn't love it as much as the Craig.

I have been using the Bold for about a month now and have to agree to all of the points here. BTW, the carrier in Hong Kong is offering the Bold for free for renewing the contract for 2 more years. Lucky that my account is just expiring so it fell into my hand soon enough!

Great post! This post only added to my desire of wanting the bold and I hope the Bold is worth the wait. As this will be my first Smartphone and blackberry for that matter. As I am a college student who also works full time in the corporate world and I am looking for a phone that will fit my busy and hectic lifestyle. This post about the bold seems to confirm that this phone is the best choice for my lifestyle.

I manage thousands of lines for our global users who use BlackBerry's.

Although the Bold will be great for some, from a cost perspective, the Curve is and will be a better bet for enterprise customers. There are always exceptions to the rule which would in my case include top level management or the executive staff.

Many enterprise corporate conglomerates our size don't pay insurance on handsets either. The Bold, at least in the interim, will be an expensive piece of hardware to replace as well.

The Bold is also very large and not everyone digs carrying around something that bulky. I don't mind the size myself too much, but again I'm thinking of the majority not the minority.

With the new Bold and Storm coming out, the Curve will continue to get cheaper and will likely remain in abundance for at least another 1.5 years or so.

Our org has been talking with T-Mobile and are looking to use the 8900 series to replace our current Curve series when the stock goes low. This decision was based on projected price and form factor.

I just added my comments from an Enterprise point of view and to show another perspective. I do agree your review was top notch and this device sounds like a great device assuming the at&t network is built up to snuff in the areas it will be used.

My first crackberry post! I've been an "original" Pearl user for two years (love it), just recently implementing the data plan in anticipation of my Bold upgrade. I considered and discarded the iPhone as a prospect because I like the BB interface. My "perspective" is that everything stipulated for the "business" user above also applies for the serious "personal" user, which is how I characterize myself even though my BB has business benefits for me, too. This is a very well-written post, and the audience should not be limited to business users.

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