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Review: Sprint BlackBerry Bold 9650

By David Boyd on 20 May 2010 11:41 am EDT
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Hands On Review of the Sprint BlackBerry Bold 9650

Bold 9650

The launch of the new BlackBerry Bold 9650 has been highly anticipated among the CDMA users on CrackBerry. The day has finally come where the masses can now add this new BlackBerry to their mobile communications arsenal.

The Bold 9650 was announced at WES 2010 to be launching on Sprint starting on May 23rd. However we have known about the existence of this device for quite some time. Just a few days ago, Sprint upped the ante with its users and launched the device one week early via online sales. Many happy CrackBerry readers were able to order their new device and will have it in their hands before it actually hits the stores. The question that lingers in my mind is why did Sprint move up the launch date? Are they worried about sales of the Bold 9650 with the impending release of the HTC EVO? I guess only time will tell, but from my viewpoint, this is one awesome BlackBerry.

Keep on reading to get my full thoughts.

What's In The Box

  • BlackBerry Bold 9650
  • AC Micro USB Travel Charger
  • USB Sync Cable
  • Stereo Headset
  • 2GB microSD Memory Card
  • Leather Holster
  • Standard Manuals and CD
Bold 9650 angled

Specs and Features


SPECIFICATIONS:
  • Form factor: Sleek, thin design with full QWERTY keyboard and trackpad navigation
  • Networks: 800/1900 MHz CDMA, 2100 MHz UMTS/HSPA, and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM
  • Dimensions: 4.4 inches x 2.4 inches x 0.6 inches (111.8 mm x 61 mm x 15.2 mm)
Weight: 4.8 ounces (136 grams)
  • Display: HVGA+ (480 x 360 at 245 ppi)
  • Battery Specifications: Li-Ion Battery (1400 mAh)
  • Talk Time: Up to 5 hours


ADVANCED FEATURES:

  • BlackBerry® service supports up to 10 business and personal email accounts, plus BlackBerry® Enterprise Server support for corporate email installations
  • 3.2 MP camera for picture and video capture with flash, variable zoom, image stabilization and autofocus
  • 512 MB Flash memory
  • Wi-Fi® (802.11 b/g)
  • 2 GB MicroSD Card included, with support for cards up to 32 GB
  • Operates globally on CDMA EV-DO Rev. A, and 2100 MHz UMTS/HSPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks where Sprint has international roaming agreements. Sprint customers can make or receive phone calls in more than 185 countries, and access BlackBerry data services, including email, apps and Web browsing in nearly 150 countries
  • Features built-in GPS for mapping your location, conducting local searches, receiving audible and visual turn-by-turn driving directions, and utilizing the E911 emergency location services where available
  • Speaker independent voice dialing for hands free calling
  • Speakerphone for hands-free operation
  • Features an advanced media player for listening to music, viewing pictures and watching videos, plus there’s a 3.5 mm stereo headset jack
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 enabling hands-free, short-range wireless communication using a Bluetooth headset and wireless uploading/downloading to or from a computer. Also, supports Bluetooth Stereo capabilities
  • DataViz Documents To Go suite preloaded, for editing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files from anywhere
  • View and update your calendar, schedule appointments, check your task list and more while on the go. Also includes a calculator, alarm clock and memo pad
  • Features built-in GPS for mapping your location, conducting local searches, receiving audible and visual turn-by-turn driving directions, and utilizing the E911 emergency location services where available
Bold 9650 angled back

Hardware

The style and design of the Bold 9650 is exactly the same at the Tour 9630. Cosmetically you will notice very little has changed. Internally is where the majority of the changes have occurred. The Bold 9650 has replaced the troubled trackball on the Tour with the new stylish trackpad. From using a Bold 9700 for the past 6 months, I can tell you that this is one of the best things BlackBerry has done to help with navigation on the device. I'm sure when the trackwheel first came out, many users thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, and the same with the trackball -- however, I can tell you the trackpad is better than all of them.

Next in the line of changes is the addition of Wifi. I have stated in many of my previous BlackBerry reviews that my house is in that dreaded cell phone dead zone. Having Wifi on my BlackBerry helps to ease that problem at home. While the Wifi won't do anything to improve my call reception at home, it will fix any issues I may have with data reception. The Bold 9650 has no trouble hooking up to my wireless-g network, and within minutes I'm cruising the information superhighway at Wifi speeds. I only wonder why RIM didn't include the Wireless-N protocol with the Bold 9650 like they did with the Pearl 3G.

Lastly, the biggest addition to this device (which makes it hands down better than any other BlackBerry on the market) is the inclusion of 512MB of flash memory. I'm sure there are reasons behind it, but I've never understood why RIM doesn't include at least 1GB of flash memory with all devices. Memory is relatively cheap now days, and it seems like it would be something easy to do. However, getting off my soapbox I am happy to see that RIM has been working to boost flash memory on devices each year. I can't even imagine going back to a device that had 64MB of flash memory. This boost of flash memory will be a welcome addition to all app hungry BlackBerry users, and it may very well be a necessity for devices to run on the upcoming BlackBerry 6.

One of the great things to note here as well is that the Bold 9650 from Sprint comes factory unlocked. This means its not locked down to just Sprint service, and unlike other devices, doesn't require an unlock code to open it up for other networks. You can just pop in a SIM card from any GSM carrier (for the most part) and be up and running on a different network. Service obviously depends on the provider, so you will get EDGE or 3G service depending on what carrier you are using. Very cool. 

Now that we've covered the major new additions to the hardware, let's go over the basic form factor of the device. It still has the same feel and look as the original Tour 9630. It weighs just a few ounces more than the Tour, but has the exact same dimensions otherwise. The micro USB charging port has been moved about 1/8 inch from where it sat on the Tour (why? I have no idea). Basically this is the cosmetically enhanced version of the Tour that has be rebranded into the Bold family.

Software

The Bold 9650 comes pre-loaded with OS 5.0.0.621. I know we were all wishing for Blackberry 6 to be loaded, but we'll just have to settle with 5.0 for a little bit longer. The Bold has 309MB of free memory out of the box, leaving plenty of room for you to load tons of your favorite applications. BlackBerry Messenger version 5.0.0 is also pre-loaded.

The device seems to be pretty snappy and responsive, and I'm sure that has to do with the extra memory added to this device. All the standard games you have come to know and love are still included also. One change in the software lineup for Sprint is the loss of the NFL Network to Verizon. It has now been replaced with Sprint Football Live. I guess time will tell when the season starts back up if this new app with offer the same value to Sprint customers as the NFL Network did. Other included Sprint specific applications are NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, Sprint TV, and Sprint Navigation.

Hands-On Use

As some of you have noticed from my unboxing video, Sprint signal in my house is not that great. Actually, it's not that great will all 4 major U.S. carriers. I just live in some kind of cell phone Bermuda Triangle I guess. To cure that issue at home, I can simply get a Sprint Airave and I'll be in business with full signal. Without an Airave, I'm limited to making/receiving calls pretty much only on the 2nd story of my house. (Note to self, get Airave soon). However, leaving my house, i have found that signal is not an issue. I live in Austin, TX, and drove around for 10 hours last night with the Bold 9650 keeping an eye on the signal strength. I never once found a place where I didn't have good coverage, and I even went inside a cinder block building and was still able to get 2 bars of signal, when my AT&T phone had no service. That's pretty good is you ask me.

Call clarity on the device was stellar, and I did not ever drop a call, or have any static or other interference. I haven't had a chance to setup my Jawbone bluetooth headset yet as I can't seem to locate it after returning from WES. If anyone knows where I put, please shoot me a message and let me know. Thanks!  :)

Setting up email was a breeze, although I did run into one problem. When adding my Gmail account, I left the box checked to sync contacts. Bad move on my part. I not only had all my contacts listed in my address book from my Bold 9700 that were transferred, but now I had all Gmail contacts in there as well. Several people had numerous entries. I can easily reload that original backup and fix the issue, but I thought I had better give everyone a heads up on it so you can avoid that problem. 

Several people have asked me about battery life on the 9650. I myself was concerned that it wasn't going to be as good as the Bold 9700. I took the 9650 off the charger and of course started putting it through the rigorous testing of a new device. I made numerous calls, sent lots of email, spent some time on BlackBerry Messenger and Gtalk, surfed the web, etc... after 14 hours I currently have 45% battery remaining. That's much better than I expected. Naturally each user will get varying results, but I think it's safe to say that the Bold 9650 should be able to get you through a full day's use. 

Overall feel and performance of the Bold 9650 is solid. The battery door is firmly attached and not moving around like it had done on some previous Tour's. The trackpad is just slightly raised, which in my opinion, makes it just a little easier to use. My only complaint with the trackpad is that it is difficult to use with any kind of moisture on your hand. I'm not talking about you just jumped out of the pool and your dripping wet, I referring more to the sweaty hands issue. Like several parts of the country, Texas gets hot, and in Austin we get high humidity with that heat. Having any kind of perspiration on your finger will make navigation on the trackpad a little difficult. 

Device Comparison

Want to know how the Bold 9650 stacks up against the other Bold devices in the BlackBerry lineup. Look at the following links to get to the direct spec sheets from BlackBerry on the Bold models and the Tour. I have also included this link for a side by side comparision of all Bold devices and the Tour.

Photo Comparisons

BlackBerry Bold 9650 Comparison Photos
BlackBerry Bold 9650 Front View Comparison
BlackBerry Bold 9650 Back View Comparison

Apps and Accessories

The great thing about this device is that there are already a ton of accessories on the market compatible with it. You can find them all in the CrackBerry Store as well. I would highly suggest using a case of somekind for your Bold 9650. Afterall, you don't want to scratch your new baby do you? One important thing to note though, the charging port on the Bold 9650 has been moved up about an 1/8th inch. Several users are reporting that some skins they had for their Tour 9630's still work just fine, but some hard cases aren't working. The charging port isn't lined up correctly, and this will obviously be a problem. Just pay attention to what you order and verify that it will work.

Now on the application side of the fence, the world is your oyster. BlackBerry App World comes preloaded on the device giving you all the access you need to several great apps. If that isn't to your liking, I would suggest you download the CrackBerry Superstore and browse though the apps we have available. I know you'll find one to your liking. 

My only disappointment in the app department was the lack of OpenGL games. I really wanted to try one out for the review and see how it went. However, there doesn't seem to be any available, or at least I couldn't find one if there is. If anyone knows of an OpenGL game that will work with the Bold 9650 please leave me a comment and I'll make sure to check it out.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Now has come the time where you may be looking for me to tell you that you must upgrade your current BlackBerry to the Bold 9650 because it is so great. Well I do agree it is great, but I think the necessity for an upgrade will really depend on what device you are currently using. For users with the Tour 9630, the need to get the addition of additional memory, trackpad, and Wi-Fi may not be that great. Sure we all want the newest and greatest thing, but the Tour is already a pretty great device in it's own right. You'll just need to weigh the factors out and see if the upgrade is worth it to you. Personally, I would do it, but I know not everyone will feel the same.

However for users with a 8830, 8330, or 8130; I think the time has come for you to retire that device, and move up to the Bold 9650. Not only will you be getting a newer device with all the great features we have previously talk about, but you'll be getting the best BlackBerry on the market. No other carrier can compete with the Bold 9650 at this point. Sure Verizon and other CDMA carriers will get it at some point, but for now, you can be the cool kid with the exclusive new device.

The Bold 9650 is what the Tour should have been when it launched. End of story.

Related BlackBerry Bold 9650 Content You May Like:

Reader comments

Review: Sprint BlackBerry Bold 9650

123 Comments

I have lived with a crappy trackball for long enough. Why couldn't the trackball work as good as it does on my 8330?

--M

It's actually a Bold.

More specifically, the 9650 is an inanimate object. It can't pretend to be anything. It simply is the next step in RIM's evolution of the Bold.

Why waste your energy hating?

I'm not hating, I ordered it. I'm pointing out that it doesn't look like the other bolds because its actually a tour 2, renamed bold.

So what is your assessment of the 9700? It looks nothing like the 9000, yet it is curiously called a Bold.

(Rhetorical question -- don't bother answering.)

Before you leave another comment like the previous ones, do a search in your favorite search engine. This was originally called the "Tour 2", until RIM renamed it and gave it the "Bold" branding. That's what she's trying to point out.

I'm using a used 8830 and it was great when I got it last August but I outgrew it in about a month. A friend was kind enough to give it to me when she upgraded her phone so I could try a BB. Needless to say I'm addicted.

Since we're in baseball season, I'm dying because MLB doesn't support the 8830 for audio games this year. So I need the Bold 9650 now! :-)

The only thing I'll miss about my 8830 is the beautiful red color. I'm not looking forward to a boring black BB.

Come on Verizon! Get it out there now.

You'll be waiting forever at this rate... seems like vzw isn't approving it because it's not passing their LAME-O software tests... Meanwhile us Sprint users are cruising at full speed with our 9650s!! :D

Installed .692 on my 9650 that I received today... before re-installing my apps (from my 9700), I had 343MB free... with my apps installed, now at 324MB.... dude, compared with all other BB's... even 309MB is PLENTY!!!! ;)

I have a lowly 8330. I've been waiting for this phone to drop forever now...and now that it still hasn't (for verizon) I'm not interested.

I'm now waiting for the bb slider to come out on Verizon. I know (reportedly) the slider is GSM so I guess I'll be waiting pretty much until hell freezes over. Lucky me.

Im with you. Ive been waiting so long Im no longer excited about this phone at all. Newer and better things are always coming, but the delay of this phone shrunk the gap between its release, and something a lot better. My 8330 is running just fine for now.

How dare you call the 8330 "Lowly',LOL. It's still better than every BB other than the BOLD series and at least 75% of the smartphones on the market.

There is no way that your 8330 is better than my 9700 or any other Bold! Upgrade for a week and then try to go back to your 8300!

Read the comment again, kid. The author explicitly states that the 8330 is better than any other BlackBerry EXCEPT the Bold.

Cool it.

I wouldn't call less than 1 year from the release of the Tour "forever". In fact, there are several rants all over this website about how Tour users feel ripped off because of how soon this device came out, blah blah blah. Feel free to rake me over the coals but there is just no pleasing some people. By the time the 9800 comes out there'll be another BB in the rumor-mill that's supposedly so much better. Secretly I'm waiting for this device in white, but w/e.

Why haven't they put the proper 1500 mah battery in this? The same one the other Bolds have.

I have the 8330 and it has hands down been the best phone I've owned (even thought I haven't owned any other smartphone). It does what I need it to: make calls with great reception (although the voice quality isn't the best), long battery life, push email, bbm, jivetalk, half-arse facebook app, yelp, googlemaps, mp3s. The phone is going strong and hasn't had any problems (ok, it's slowed down significantly with no memory left LOL).

I think I'm going to hold off upgrading until I can see 9650 WITH OS 6 in action. If it can run it smoothly and is worth moving from OS 4.X then I'll buy the 9650.

Until then I'm staying with my trusty workhorse.

Got tired of RIM going back and forth and now Big Red hasn't even aknowledged the exsistance of the 9650 yet...ordered the Incredible this morning. Sorry RIM!

So, this may be the replacement for my Bold 9700... In 2 years (new contract), by which time it should be on BB 6. Actually I might recommend my missus gets this when her crappy Samsung comes up for upgrade next year.

I was never really a fan of the tour, body wise, it was a monster phone when it came out tho.. but i know on real difference was going to be the trackpad, and the flash. The bold 9700's battery i think has to be one of my best yet. Ive had it for a few months now and it amazes me every time. I think that batt should be standard. Idk wat rim has up their sleeve with the competition. That evo is looking crazy. Not crazy enuff for me to go & buy it, but its 4G... mmm.. I got faith in rim tho. i do love my BB. Good Luck.

Great device. The trackpad does not work with all 3rd party apps so be aware of that. I am also using Office 2010 Beta and it is not compatible with Outlook 2010 for whatever reason. All of my other devices: Palm Pre, Android, Windows Mobile all still sync with it. I am sure there will be an update to BDM to allow it but for right now if you are using Outlook 2010 you will need to remove and use Outlook 2007.

Step up to the plate and remove the beta of Office 2010. Maybe 2010 RTM will work. I have 2010 RTM but not a BB 9650 yet :)

I got the tour a few months back for Verizon. I finally got tired of all the "well it is soon" "April release date" No now "May release date". June is almost here and Verizon still has no announcement of when it is coming.
I love the tour but would have really loved the extra features on the 9650. I guess after the tours are gone I can turn it in on insurance.

Unfortunately, there will be "plenty" of Tour refurbs out there for months/years to come to use as insurance replacements.

there seems to be a lot of speculation about the processor in the 9650.

Can Crackberry finally put this to rest and provide us with definitive details?

See, I just dont get that. Sure, it's got 512MB. But I don't get the appeal of a non touchscreen phone in this day and age. To me, hands down the Storm2 is the best Blackberry out. I, and ever other S2 owner I know, type just as fast and just as fine on them as any keyboard enabled device.

Hell, the Storm series of phones has single handedly made RIM and Blackberry relevent to the rest of the world, much to the chagrin of BB elitists that frequent this site.

I look at this phone, and all non-Storm BBs and think "look at all that real estate wasted on NOT touchscreen."

Flame away....

While slick in nature and at first use, I do not liek this much more than the trackball as the trackpad piece itself will become loose and almost "Storm 1 touchscreen" like in nature where sliding in any direction with any kind of moderate force will cause the piece to shift. Go play with any trackpad enabled device at any demo station in any cell phone store and you'll see what I mean.

I've had a Sprint Curve 8530 for 3 months now and my trackpad isn't loose at all. I think the demo phones people just push to damn hard on them.

Storm vs. Bold/Tour is kind of apples to oranges...if you HAVE to have a touchscreen, then I supposed you'd prefer Storm2, but I think the Storm detractors would point out that you'd actually be better off getting a touchscreen device that isn't a Blackberry for around the same money. The Bold 9700 (and now the 9650) at least offers something different than other phones on the market...the front-face QWERTY and trackpad make it feel kinda like a mini-laptop as much as a phone, and a lot of people like that.

As a 9700 owner, though, it's tough for me to treat this like a serious "new device". It looks almost exactly the same as the Bold 9700 I already have, with a different number on it. Other than the fact that people have become loyal to their particular device name ("Curve", "Tour", "Storm", "Bold", etc.), RIM isn't really doing anything to improve their products other than creating the illusion of progress by advancing like 4 or 5 lines of phones separately.

RIM only really needs like 3 different phones...they need something like a Curve that offers entry-level data plans, they need a Bold/Tour that is their top-end business/communication device, and they need to work on a touchscreen device that focuses more on younger users and casual purposes. We saw an emphasis on the latter mission with the OS 6.0 video, but I haven't seen the hardware to support it yet. RIM is wasting its time and resources developing 5 different models and having a new release every 4 months or so that really doesn't add anything to whatever they already have out.

I totally agree. There are way too many BBs, and versions of BBs out. I actually had to google 9560 vs. 9530 the other day just to figure out what the heck is the point of it!

However I must argue the notion that Storm and touchscreen devices in general are, or should be, geared towards a "younger" more "casual" demograph. I conduct business as usual just fine from my Storm 2 on the regular.

I misspoke about the Storm/younger demographic. There are plenty of professionals who use the Storm2 and probably like it, and it did serve a need for people accustomed to using the BB operating system, but who were looking for a different input functionality.

My point was simply that if they expect to pull in a more casual/younger demographic in the future, they'll need to make devices that at least have the touchscreen option b/c that's become somewhat of an industry standard for mobile smartphones, popularized by the iPhone.

I think it would be a fool's errand to focus squarely on making something "cooler" than the iPhone or Droid, b/c half the time, people just are buying what their friends have anyway. But it just seems like a dream scenario for RIM would be a 3-pronged attack:

(1) A "Curve" budget smartphone offering a gateway to people who've never used smartphones before, and just want basic email, mobile browsing, SMS, etc. Even better would be if they could work out a $15/month budget data plan for people who don't need all the functionality of a Bold or iPhone.

(2) A "Bold" line (which probably remains the focal point of their business) focused on professional use, and emphasizing communication and reliability. Something like the 9800 "slider" where you add a touchscreen, but retain the QWERTY (and also the trackpad) would be an example of this.

(3) A new line of touch devices, w/ or w/o a QWERTY keyboard with a touchscreen that offers something like "pinch to zoom" or (hey!) something new that actually enhances web browsing and use of media. It's a little far fetched to expect this device to compete with iPhone and Droid, but there might be some overlap with the more tech-saavy business users, and it least offers BB users the option to stay with RIM but use something that doesn't feel like a glorified PDA.

Three phones--that's it. If you want to offer the "Curve" in hot pink with sparkles and tassles to help sell phones, that's fine, but I just feel like they're so busy tweaking existing hardware to move units that they're losing sight of the bigger picture.

My only hope is that the Bold 9800 has SurePress. Without it, the smartphone world would be a passive screen place.

The other thing is how I wished RIM'd gone and call this one the Tour 2. Dont need them 9700 peeps calling this one the 'less better bold' due to it being less 50.

I couldn't agree more. As I have posted before I only watch this site because my wife is considering replacement for her 8330 on VZW. Personal Blackberry makes nothing to compete with my Moto Droid(dumped my Tour and S1). I get more memory, faster processor, touch screen, and software stability along with openness to adjust things.

RIM is falling further behind on Development. Devices like the Droid Incredible are even making my Moto Droid look old. I like to use exchange without the ridiculous need for a seperate server that most companies limit use on. Given my wife likes he Curve if she were to look for a new phone this may be her best option on when it comes to VZW since she doesnt seem to want Touchscreen yet.

Personally I could never use a touch screen. I have tried the iphone and the htc evo in stores and just can't get my fat stumpy fingers to cooperate. Also I am a mechanic and sometimes I have to go in my toolbox at work to check my msgs or a call and I have fluids on my fingers. With a leypad I can wrap my fingers in a shop rag and press some keys without totally ruining the phone. This would never be possible for me with a touchscreen. Maybe one of the touch/keypad hybrids though?? Have to wait and see.

This is not an upgrade to me. I have the Tour and will not be wasting my upgrade on the Bold. To similar. Now if it were the Storm 2 I would be in. This is just and lateral move by Sprint for Blackberry phones!

Yes, the 32GB is out, but I think they're still pretty expensive for what you get. About a year from now, it would probably be a better investment. Honestly, with the limitations of the Blackberry OS, I have an 8GB card (which only cost me $17), and that's enough for me. I have about 2 GB of music on there, but I don't really like it as a music player (we'll see if OS6 does it better). The rest of the space is used for temporary storage from PodTrapper. There isn't too much else of use that you can do with apps/etc. that takes up 32GB. Just my opinion.

I have an 8gb card in my 8530 and I use it as a music player all the time. Works as good or better than my MP3 player. Not sure what it doesn't do to be honest...

I don't understand all the hate over the music app. It works just fine. Not as flashy as the iPhones but has all the functionality of the iPhone. And the search feature is way better and faster. Just start typing in a name or song or what ever and the BB will search for a match. I find the media player to be just fine.

I have the Verizon Tour and will not upgrade to a Bold. Why lock yourself in to a 3G phone when we all know 4G phones will be rolling out soon?

what new features does this phone bring?..... oh right, nothing, meanwhile google announced android 2.2 that has full flash, ability to install applications to SD card, built in tethering, fastest mobile browser available, adobe air app support, ability to stream your itunes/music from home, over data connection, with already utilized features such as free turn by turn navigation, a 1ghz snapdragon in all new handsets, 8MP cameras and selling 100,000 devices a day...anyone doubting a huge market share shift here should checkout crackberry's sister site androidcentral.com and see how many "i just moved from blackberry i'm a newb" threads there are on the forums. something very huge is happening here, and it isn't the iphone. i just don't know why RIM keeps pumping out the same phone over and over again. and OS 6 is a joke to anyone who doesn't have tunnel vision on blackerry. the android market has over 50k apps, and it's about 1.5 years old. blackberry development is what...10 years old? and theres a a few thousand...cmon

I have had mine for a couple days, and it's definitely a breath of fresh of air from the Tour. Faster with more storage - and the best part - the wheel is gone!!

Have to love all the negative comments. I have had the phone for 2 days now and I love it. I bought the Tour knowing that this phone was going to be released, so I am not really in the same boat as all of the people who are sooooo enraged that this was not the first Tour. They said this phone was going to be released before the Tour even came out. I also am a Sprint Premiere customer, so I can upgrade my phone every year. That being said, I sold my Tour already for 200 dollars, am getting 100 dollars back MIR, and Sprint also just gave me a loyalty 25 dollars for being such a good customer. I don't need the EVO just yet, although the phone does interest me. I will wait a year and see how the EVO and 4G goes. If it really is AMAZING, then maybe I will switch. I am very happy with BlackBerry. The phone is everything the Tour should have been, and I can live with that. I basically got money back in getting this phone, and only have to wait a year before I can make a decision on whether to stick with BlackBerry or switch it up. Whatever device YOU choose for YOU, I hope you all enjoy it.

Hello everyone, I have a little question about the device.

On the Specs it says "Networks: 800/1900 MHz CDMA, 2100 MHz UMTS/HSPA, and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM" it means the device works on all networks at the sametime?

Why do I ask, such a stupid question? You'll see, I live in Venezuela, my mobile company being Telefonica Movistar, I've called customer support to verify the network bands for 3G compatibility and stuff, three times the same answer "not sure what you are asking sir"

Right now I'm using a Javellin 8900 T-mobile (Unlocked), bought on the USA. I'm thinking about buying this device, but need to be sure it will work with my mobile operator.

so... any advices are welcome.

Forget (and please forgive) I asked such a stupid quiestion. With a friend who guided me I found the answers I need.

Still, thanks and a REALLY BIG TWO THUMBS UP on your site.

UMA is a technology for GSM.. the neat part is the wifi to cell tower handoff. Supporting UMA is a carrier decision and TMOP does, and ATT doesnt. Neither sprint nor verizon can technically support UMA..
VOIP is what is wanted.. but that seems to be deliberately held back by the carriers (and no, the verizon skype is NOT true voip).

No new Bold 9650 yet for Verizon. Luckily, not a huge issue for me yet as my upgrade date is July 5th. Between now and then, I have to make my mind up...will I trade in the old BB Curve for a new Bold 9650 or an HTC Incredible?

My wife has a MotoDroid, and while I enjoy some of its features (great web browsing experience, games, voice search, nav capabilities, animated wallpapers, great camera, etc.), there are a few things about it that really bug me. Namely, it feels like a brick in your hand, the touch screen is constantly nasty, the email push notification seems like an afterthought, and the virtual keyboard is simply no match for the BB keys. That said, I have played around a bit with the new HTC Incredible and it feels more comfortable in the hand than the MotoDroid.

The BB does well all the things that are really important to me, and I am really excited to see how the Bold 9650 experience will improve over the Curve. I think the trackpad is a great addition, as is the extra memory, and the enhanced screen resolution. Seems RIM should have bumped the camera to at least 5MP though, and considered enhancing the video capabilities. Decisions decisions...I just can't decide if I would find much value in the all the stuff hyped with the Incredible. I am enjoying reading all these posts, and luckily I have another 6 weeks or so to make my mind up...maybe more if Verizon hasn't rolled out the Bold 9650 by July 5th.

Just wanted to say thank you for a thorough review. I'm a Sprint customer who absolutely hates his Palm Pre. I've been lurking on this site for a while as I am thinking of jumping ship to a BlackBerry. As I'm in a two-year contract and would have to pay a ton for the phone, I'm trying to do all of my homework and make sure I know what I'm doing. I appreciate it [shoutout to all the people I've been bothering in the forums, too!].

The primary reason I dislike my Pre so much is because the battery life is ridiculous. I don't use it a whole lot and I have a hard time making it 8 hours at work without it dying on me. I might get two e-mails a day and a handful of texts. It's also unpredictable--some days the battery is fine, other days with the same amount of use it's dead before I'm home.

It turns out that many of the features that make the Pre great don't appeal to me. I don't care about pictures or video, about listening to music a lot [I use Pandora once in a while], or about browsing the web all day. My primary uses are texting, e-mailing, messaging, and calendar access. My understanding is that BlackBerry excels in these areas [though everything of mine is on Google, which I heard isn't so seamless, which is why I'm cautiously researching]. If it performs well and the battery can get me through a day of light-to-moderate use without begging for the charger, I'm willing to sacrifice the polished OS and flashy graphics for something that just *works*.

well, it's nice that you're doing what sounds like proper research. and blackberry does do email and messaging well, but i do think that android does it better, especially when you consider the network downtimes. BIS for blackberry has downtimes and outages that borderline ridiculousness for a 'business' platform. google, gmail, doesn't really embark on such numbers, and if most of your stuff is with google already, android will truly be seamless, in fact, i've never even plugged my android nexus one into the computer, because all of my calendars, contacts, app settings, pictures, etc are all stored in the "cloud" which doesn't exist on blackberry, if i upgrade my OS on my android i don't have to re-setup ANYTHING, not the case with blackberry. i can pull a day of heavy use from the nexus one, 2 if it's light usage. and it's ridiculously more customizable. especially from a messaging standpoint. if you don't like the stock sms app, theres a ton of replacements that integrate the same way as the stock one, same goes for browser, chat applications, and even software keyboards. if you don't like the stock android keyboard you can install a different one, even the newer swype keyboards, which are incredibly faster than pressing individual buttons to type. (swype is the commercials you see with the guy setting a new guinness book of world records for texting speed. anyway, my point is blackberry works great, it does what it does well, but it doesn't do what it does best.

the android touchscreen phones don't last very long without a recharge, at least not much better than a Pre. If you dont like the battery on the Pre, then you definitely wont like the battery on the Incredible or Droid. The droid phones are primarly good for multimedia, which you've already said you don't care about, so it sounds like blackberry is for you.

as previously stated, his interests are messaging, email, and battery life, and as i myself, previously stated, it is my experience that all of these are outdone on android. i get 2 days of battery life from my android phone, and the email and sms messaging aspects are vastly superior. i do however still miss bbm, but he doesn't even have a blackberry yet so thats a non-issue.

Again the Bold and Tour almost same same. Its not anything new. I too am a "Sprint Preimere customer. Almost everybody is, big deal. My point is there isn't that much difference. My Tour works fine. I am just hoping to get the Storm 2 on Sprint, you know something a little different then the bold and tour. I love blackberry, but I think Sprint is promoting the Bold as this big deal and its not.

I own a 9700 Bold, which is my first BB, and I still don't know what the difference is between a Tour and a Bold, or why both are necessary. My assumption, based on the way they do model numbers is that my phone is the "best" (or highest powered) Blackberry, at least until something like the 9800 comes out.

Honestly, I look at what the Droid is (released late last year), and I think that's the move RIM was supposed to make. You have a fully functioning touchscreen on the front that also offers a slideout QWERTY. And on the keyboard portion, I feel like RIM could've done a better job with it, and included the 9700's trackpad. I just think the operating system (plus RIM's lack of imagination) held them back.

Assume the 9800 slider gets released in November of this year. That's a year after the Droid, and I honestly think the Droid is still a better phone. RIM had a chance to cleanup on the touchscreen smartphone market for all those people who either didn't want iPhone's or AT&T, and they missed the boat. I'll bet there's dozens of times everyday when first-time smartphone buyers walk into a Verizon store, ask for an iPhone, and are directed towards the Droid instead because it's their closest alternative.

Am I the only that doesn't get hung up on the whole Bold vs Tour naming thing?

To me, they are the 9700 and 9650... plain and effing simple... who the EFF cares if it's called a Bold or a Tour... it could be called DILDO for all I care... I refer to BBs by their true designation... 8330, 9630, 9650, 9100, etc. etc.... NUMBERS!!!!!!!!

My wife is still stuck with an 8330 and we are desperate to get this new Bold for her. I've been telling her to wait for this phone instead of upgrading to the Tour and the wait is getting silly. Hello, Verizon! A customer is waiting to buy this phone!

As for myself, my Storm2 will suffice until another device comes along. I'm happy enough with it that I can wait until the next batch of devices later this year. While I miss a physical keyboard, I don't miss it THAT much. I wish the slider would come out for Verizon.

This is a very helpful review. I have always wanted a Tour or a Bold but was waiting for my upgrade discount on Sprint. Unfortunately, the EVO is coming out also from Sprint and I am very interested in seeing what it can do. I might just wait a few weeks.

I remember when the 8530 came out there were problems with the gps acquisition. I tried the 8530 for a week before I went back to my trusty 8330 because the problems with google maps on the phone.

I want the get the Bold but if it doesn't work with google maps I've been tempted to go over to android.

As a Tour owner, I can definitely tell you that Google Maps DO work with the Tour's GPS. I think the issue your talking about was something about not allowing third party applications to use the device's build in GPS, but that is no longer an issue. I would assume that the 9650 would also work with the GPS since it is an upgrade.

That said, I would still go to Android with their oh-so-nice turn-by-turn GPS.

Thanks to all who have posted useful info about the Bold and Android. I think a few people need to remember that we don't all already have the latest and greatest phones so getting the Bold 9650 may be like winning the lottery. Plus, while one approach may work for you, another might be better for someone else.

As I posted earlier, I've been waiting for Verizon to come out with the Bold 9650 but a few of the posts mentioning Androids have me thinking. I use my phone for both business and pleasure. Some of the apps that I've added to my 8830 have made keeping track of my business much easier. In particular BlackTrack and ReportAway have helped me to keep track of my time as well as the hours I work on the go. Is there anything similar for the Android?

I'm also not sure I'm ready to give up my keyboard. I can type pretty quickly on it. I have seen too many complaints about touch keyboards to make me leery.

From what I see, none of my fun apps will be an issue - NFL, MLB (need the 9650 - or other upgrade - to listen), Facebook and a few games. I've been limited in the fun stuff I can put on it by 64MB. My phone needs a battery pull several times a day as it is.

So anyone have thoughts on business apps for the Android - specifically those for tracking time and tracking emails & phone calls. They need to make it easy to put in either Excel or QuickBooks.

Thanks for any insight you can offer. :-)

There is very little difference w/the original Tour, the 9700, and this device.

That's how RIM rolls.

LOL

Not getting the battery life this review said. Love the phone otherwise, but am not very happy with battery life. My 8330 would last 2 or 3 days. This phone hasn't lasted a full day for me yet.
Anyone else having these issues?

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is the best BlackBerry on the market and the BlackBerry Bold 9650 is the second best. It's true, It's true!!

My BlackBerry Tour 9630 from Sprint does just fine, thank you very much.
Battery lasts a long time (Palm, iPhone, & Android are jokes in that regard).
It's quick.
Does email better than any other phone on the market (except another BlackBerry).
Awesome qwerty keys that allow fast typing.
Never had one bit of trouble with my trackball.
The only phone I'd consider upgrading to would be a Blackberry slider with touch-screen and an optical trackpad.

I really do, I have an 8330m...but my sister got an incredible the other day, its pretty freakin' sweet...not quite my cuppa, but man, it makes me want to wait just a second and see the EVO and maybe another big android phone- if anyone could get the functionality of bb down with the ridiculous features of the new generation of devices, I'd be on that in a heartbeat. Smartphones are evolving so fast! I really hate to say it, but it does make being excited about 512mb of flash mem seem kinda silly when you look at some of the stuff on the horizon.

sooooo has everyone just completely forgot of the subtle changes that well at least for me that make all the more difference. The Tours top 4 keys are completely flat where as the Bold's curve up to the trackpad.also the device is slightly heavier and thus making it feel alot more solid.and the other thing is the keypad is slightly different. When you look at it it looks almost completely identical until you type on it and realize "this does feel better to type on. One gripe i have is thatthe back door feels like a middle school agenda cover and makes noise if u slide your finger up and down it :) Happy Trails campers! and go to the store and play with it and see the little differences that actually improve the use ALOT!!!

Minus the trackball, this phone looks exactly like the one next to it in the pic above. I guess a lot of people are saying that, they are kinda hoping to get a phone that is alittle different, alittle newer, alittle, more, besides just memory, and a couple of new features here and there.

Kind of like buying a car, then trading it in for the same car with just alittle more horse power. You would probably want a newer, fresher, more exciting design while upgrading too...

In essence, I guess some people are trying to say that they are getting bored with having basically the same phone, when they upgrade.

I purchased this phone FROM A SPRINT STORE in Phoenix, AZ on 05/20/2010 at 7:38pm.

I walked into the store to ask if I could order the phone and bill it to my account when I looked over and saw the phone on display.

I asked the young lady behind the counter "do you have this in stock" very excitedly... and she stated in a smart ass tone that "no, we just put phones on display for show"... I said HA-HA and told her I wanted to purchase the phone.

It's a huge upgrade from the 8350i and can not seem to put it down (although I did long enough to write this)

AWESOME REVIEW!!! Thanks David.

A few observations:

1)RIM has a long proud tradition of ensuring that the first batch of new phones are always crappy. They seem to do a horrible job assembling the first batch in Canada, then ship production offshore when they get the bugs worked out. I'm holding out until they move production to Uzbekistan or wherever the good ones get built.

2)I'm waiting for at least the first price drop. Sprint and Verizon always, always, always drop the price after 3 months or so when they get into heated competition. I'll bet by August this thing is only $169, and by November it'll be $99. Anybody buy the latest Curve at $99? It was free 4 months later.

3)VZW holdup is almost certainly the PTT software. The pressure from Sprint will ensure that the first release stinks. Waiting for the first price drop could help here, too.

4)I'm not waiting for 4G. It's not the end-all-be-all you may think. The pipe gets clogged elsewhere.

5)Battery life and voice quality are my two biggest concerns, followed by office application integration. Specifically, BB MDS and its ability to punch thru my company firewall. Microsoft IM on my phone is a job-saver. iPhone and Android will never do what MDS does, so I'm hooked. The HTC phones suck suck suck at voice quality and battery life.

6)Bold now just means frets on the keyboard. It'd be nice if it meant parts could interchange but oh well. Just be real careful what device you pick in the Crackberry store menu :-) Nextel Curve has this problem, too. Too fat for any Curve parts to fit it.

7) RIM, it's 2010. You're the biggest smartphone maker in the world. For God's sake, lean on your suppliers and get some higher-resolution screens in your products.

--Qfg

I guess I must not be a heavy user but I email, IM, text and type all day long on my Curve 8530 and it does everything I need it too. Sure its not the top end device but I have a few apps I run that I've added and still have over 100mb of memory left, way more than the 15 I had on my 8330.

Anyway my point is what are people doing that they need this much memory for. Not that I wouldn't if I could, but for the price the Curve still seems to be more than capable.

On my 9630 I used opera min and it worked well. The same can't said for my 9650. I has to delete opera. It freezes and it's just glitchy. What I do like is that you can change your default browser to firefox or IE. Don't get me wront, I love the 9650. I wa shurt when opera wasnt working until i found firefox

Pretty much what I and the rest of the world had expected. After reading this I am going to upgrade my Corporate VZW 8703e to the Bold 9650, but will be dumping my personal VZW Tour for HTC Incredible as soon as Froyo is on the street. Maybe when RIM gets back in the business of creating innovative smartphones I'll have another go for my personal use.

One thing I noticed off the bat when I got my new Bold 9650 was the placement of the USB port. It is not exactly in the same place as the one on the 9630. So when I use the Seidio Innocase II from my Tour 9630, the cover blocks part of the port. It is still functional, but does not fit very well. I've ordered a newer case from them, one that will let it work with the stand that I already have.

The unit also seems a little heavier but that was not unexpected. I'm also on a learning curve with the wifi. I would like to have it connect to my stored networks automatically, but so far I have to go in and reconnect every time. I'm sure there's a way to do it, but it is a learning curve.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the changes to it compared to the 9630.

Agree with you q-fugee about this:
5)Battery life and voice quality are my two biggest concerns also. Now, have read a new review from Phonearena that the voice quality on the 9650 is kinda hollow. Going to try the phone at the Sprint store and see if that is true. If so, then this will be a definite no purchase. This phone is not really "that different" from the other berries anyway. Also, agree with you regarding the HTC phones that the voice quality and the batteries both suck big time. No contract now with VZ so have plenty of time to see what gives with upcoming phones.

1. Does it support multi-channel audio? Whenever I was listening music on my Tour, if someone messaged me (BBM, Email, Text, etc.) the music would stop til the alert for the message was done and then resumed. I know you can put the profile to vibrate or silent to bypass this, but I wanted to know if this device support multi-channel audio when the Tour did not.

2. Is the battery cover the rubberized one that VZW used to have? Judging from the picture, I would say yes, but when I went to the Sprint store to check it out, it was still the glossy one.

3. Is the Sprint TV and Navigation any better or pretty much the same as before? Also can you connect to Sprint TV via Wi-Fi for better quality video or does it have to be thru 3G?

These answers would really help me out, thanks!

Sprinttv is a lot better. There are more live channels but you can't use it over wifi. ESPN NEWS is live!!!!!!!!!!

I had crappy reception in house too. Got a repeater with a small YAGI antenna on roof pointed at nearest tower, and now I get full bars.

David,
You did a great and comprehensive review of the new BB Bold 9650. Obviously you spent a lot of time using and evaluating this device. Thank you!

David,
You did a great and comprehensive review of the new BB Bold 9650. Obviously you spent a lot of time using and evaluating this device. Thank you!

Let's look at this a bit closer. The 9650 does have double the RAM and ROM that the 9700 has, but the 9700 has a 624MHz processor compared to the 9650's 528MHz. So to me, depending on what you need your Blackberry to do would determine what is "hands down" the best on the market right now for you. Me, the 9700 get's my nod, and it looks a heck of a lot better than the 9650 to boot... in my opinion.

Neither one comes close to other brands' flagship devices hardware wise, and therein lies one of RIM's major issues competitively speaking. I won't get in to the browsing experience comparison because there is none. Unfortunately we haven't seen clear, definitive evidence of RIM catching up in those arenas in the next year or so.

Yes, RIM's entry-level smartphone Curve 83xx has made their shareholders happy, but once those customers become more familiar with the limitations of that device and begin to shop around for a higher-level replacements, I expect many (if not the majority) not to show the loyalty many old-school users have shown in the past.

I can only hope RIM does something they historically haven't done before, and that is listen to what their customers are complaining about and make substantial strides forward (as opposed to their typical small incremental steps) before their happy shareholders flip their upside-down frowns.

Off topic but is there a way that RIM could make it where you can install os 6 onto your sd card if you have one instaled on your device? That could make it where older devices could get os 6 also if possible.

Please tell me that you had a reason to drive around for 10 hours, other than checking signal strength quality! :)

Thanks. Your review cinchied my decision to switch from AT&T to Sprint. I have the 9000 and close to ending my contract and eligible for an upgrade. So rather than stick with AT&T and the 9700, I'm going to jump ship for the 9650. It's all about the memory!

I was waiting to upgrade to the 9700 too but realized how much money I'd save on my bill if I switched to sprint. I switched my lines over the day after this phone was officially released and purchased the last one in the store.

They should give the 9650 free for 9630 users because RIM basically sold a defective product. The 9630 trackball is pure crap. They should have recalled. So if i can find an equal or better non-rim product than the 9650 I am going to go because they royally screwed their customers.

Excellent review - I'm not a huge BlackBerry guy but I really enjoy reading about them and this was very thorough. Kudos!

I would like to have this phone but wi-fi a lil extra memory and a trackpad just isn't enough for me to ditch my Tour yet.