Rogers BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review

By Bla1ze on 5 Nov 2009 12:01 am EST
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Rogers BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review!

After many months of waiting impatiently for the BlackBerry Bold to even just be announced officially, we finally have reached launch day in Canada for it. Rogers wireless was the first to get it out the door here in Canada. Launch went fairly well with the exception of in store availablity. Most stores are still getting their shipments in but customer service will gladly process an order for you with 2-5 days for shipping. I ordered mine the day of release and had it delivered the very next day. Good on Rogers for that, but I'd have much preferred to go to a local dealer and have it the day it showed up on the Rogers website.

We've had a look at the BlackBerry Bold 9700 a few times now and not much has changed from the pre release devices pending on how far back you want to go. We have seen the device go from showing up pre-release with a trackball to now sporting a very responsive trackpad. Follow along and let's have a look at the officially released Rogers version of the new BlackBerry Bold 9700

My Introduction To The BlackBerry Bold 9700

Rogers BlackBerry Bold 9700

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 started life off code named Onyx, and after many revisions later it quickly became know as simply the BlackBerry 9700. Later on, we learned it was to become an iteration of the Bold series of devices where it became known as the Bold2, despite never having been marketed as such.

While waiting for the BlackBerry Bold 9700 to come to market many users have been stated that they really cannot justify the changes within the device over the BlackBerry Bold 9000 to purchase one. A quick look at the specifications of the BlackBerry 9700 make statements like that reasonable in my opinion, as most adjustments are purely cosmetic. But that takes nothing away from the device itself, those choices are simply user depcisions.

  • 3G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA (Bands: 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100)
  • 480 by 360 display, Encased (Beveled) edges
  • 256 megabytes of internal memory (same as Curve 8900, 8520)
  • 3.2 megapixel camera, with flash and auto focus
  • 624MHz processor (Same as the Bold)
  • GPS, WiFi (UMA capable but disabled on Rogers version)
  • 3.5mm Head Jack

Personally, I can't really say I think of the BlackBerry 9700 as a Bold myself either. The size difference between the 9700 and the 9000 makes this the reason for me. It just feels more like a Curve series device more so then a Bold.

My First Impressions And Hardware

BlackBerry Bold 9700 Hardware

Having been excited for BlackBerry Bold 9700 for a while now, I was pleased to see the final revision roll in as I had expected.The device is in top form and feeling solid. The 9700 is light in the hands without leaving the impression you are holding a cheap BlackBerry. As much as I love my 8520, the device simply and truly does feel cheap. None of that here. Having used my BlackBerry 8900 for the past little while, the size felt familiar to me and easy to jump into and use as per normal with no need to really "feel out" my way around it or the OS in general.

Form Factor- Being a fan of both the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the BlackBerry Curve 8900 series, to pick up a 9700 makes you feel at home. Looking at the device it's easy to tell that its thickness is just ever so slightly more than that of the 8900 but even though it is, it's barely noticeable in your hands. The BlackBerry 9700 simply feels thinner due to it's rounded edges and beveled and flush screen. Dedicated lock and silence buttons at the top remain intact from other devices that we have seen in the past, while it does lack the dedicated media keys found on the 8520. It would have been a nice touch in thought, not sure how well it would have been if placed into production though so I'm glad RIM didn't go that route.

BlackBerry Bold 9700 vs. BlackBerry Curve 8900
BlackBerry Bold 9700 vs. BlackBerry Curve 8900

Over all, it's the rounded corners, the flush screen and tight look of the 9700 that appeals to me and I'm sure many others. As I mentioned, Bold owners who are also 8900 lovers will feel comfortable here, as opposed to say a person who loves a Bold but hates the form factor of an 8900.

Keyboard- This is an area where I am currently perplexed. I do love my Bold's keyboard and while I don't love the 8900's, I do enjoy it and find it usable. The BlackBerry 9700 takes them both and mashes them together squeezing a Bold feeling keyboard into the size of an 8900 much as the Tour did. While the feeling of the Bold keyboard is there, the tightness of it may lead some previous Bold owners away from it as it's not as fluid to type on. The only words I can use to describe it would be to say it feels slightly cramped to me, but in doing so I know that's not right - it's just that no other words can be used to describe it. I don't see this hurting the device in any way, it's still awesome to type on but so far I have found myself "misfiring" on letters and having to correct myself.

Trackpad- BIG fan of the trackpad - huge in fact. I loved the trackpad ever since having used it on my 8520. The odd thing in this area though to me, is that the 9700's trackpad feels more responsive over the 8520's. Not sure as to why that would be and it sure as heck isn't a bad thing that's for sure. A lot of people have concerns with the trackpad not working in direct sunlight, I myself have never had an issue with this previously, not even in Arizona with the sun blazing a sick 110 degrees on me.

Battery Cover- We've all seen the pictures of the 9700's battery cover. To look at the pics some would call it ugly, while others would say it looks great. I say, hold your reservations on it until you see it in person. I thought it was rather ugly from the beginning but now seeing it finalized and on the device it looks pretty sharp. Anyone had a wobbly or lose battery door on their BlackBerry? Sure ya did. Well, not here folks. In all honesty, it felt like BlackBerry abuse trying to slide this thing off the back and even found myself questioning if I was doing it wrong. Battery door is on there nice and tight and just in case you ever have to do battery pulls, get you a copy of QuickPull because you just might need it.

BlackBerry Bold 9700 Batter Cover

Battery- Using the same 1550mAh battery from the BlackBerry Bold 9000, the BlackBerry 9700 has no issues with making it through the day. Having witnessed the power being sucked out of batteries in no time on pre release versions I'm quite satisfied to see the current OS (5.0.0.321) has tamed that back a little. Also a good thing for Bold owners out there if you have every bought an extra for your 9000, congrats you now have extras for your 9700. 

Hotswappable Memory- Sure is. Once (if?) you get the battery cover off right up at the top is your microSD slot, you can pop new ones in on the go. I did however find it a little tricky to get it out as you have to catch the edge of the card with your fingernail in order to pull directly out. Not perfect by no means, but not really a hinderence either that's for sure.

Camera- Packing a 3.2 megapixel camera that we have seen arrive in other devices that BlackBerry 9700 doesn't dissappoint. The camera is snappy (relative to OS) and the flash is great compared to the Bold and on par with other devices such as the 8900 and Storm2. Auto focus works well, but has that been an issue on any other BlackBerry Smartphones? Don't think so from what I can recall.

Sound Quality- Be it speaker phone, call quality or media playback. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a winner. However, with that said the BlackBerry Bold 9000 still rules this kingdom for media playback. Why RIM doesn't seem to be able to duplicate the 9000's sound quality on media is beyond me. Call quality is nice and smooth albeit a little soft. Speakerphone is not as loud as I would like it to be but it's the incoming audio that gave me a hassle, outgoing audio is fine to those you call as it's loud without being annoying.

Media Playback- The crisp screen has got this area covered for sure. Colors look great and vibrant and the audio as mentioned is fine. This time around we get some extra codecs placed into the OS which makes the available options for media a little more expanded. And it appears RIM has finally got their DivX codecs (ie: .avi video files) working good for video playback where as before it seemed like it was struggling to play those files on occasion.

The OS

BlackBerry 9700 OS 5.0.0.321

The OS is always a point of concern for users when buying or well, even using their BlackBerry smartphones. The Rogers BlackBerry Bold 9700 comes loaded with OS 5.0.0.321 and after having gone through it, I can say it's a good OS to launch with. That's not to say it is issue free by no means, I have had some problems with the device taking a while to wake up after having been idle for a while wherein the screen will just stay black for a few seconds then go to what ever it was I was going to access, but once going the device is snappy and screen transitions are fast.

I know this is NOT a device issue as the same concerns are seen on the 8900 and 9000 leaked versions of OS 5.0.0.314. At this time though RIM is currently into the .400's in terms of OS for devices all around. One other issue that again. seems to be an OS issue and not a device one is restarting your device.

If you power off or do a battery pull sometimes the progress bar will be solid, indicating your device should indeed be moving on to the next screen. This doesn't always happen. Sometimes it will load fast and go all the way, sometimes it will stall on the progress bar and you are waiting for it to load up. Again, a OS issue as it's seen in other builds of 5.0. In closing the OS talk though, it's a fine OS to of have launched with, no HUGE hang ups that are going to require RIM to rush an OS out as soon as possible to Rogers. *cough* Bold 9000 launch anyone? *cough* ;)

Applications And Themes

BlackBerry Bold 9700 Applications

As always, applications help make any BlackBerry better and the 9700 is no exception to this for sure. I tend too run a lot of apps on my devices as you all can see from the screenshot. Most apps now have been updated to be compatible for OS 5.0 and while some still may be working out some bugs the majority is on board.

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 comes preloaded with all the usual items though, some of it you may wish to remove using desktop manager to save some space. I'm not saying it's needed, the device even loaded with all of the normal things, plus all the stuff pushed by Rogers runs perfectly fine without having deleted anything. Just a personal preference some users will want to do.

Some of my top picks for apps for my 9700 that got installed immediately, certainly not all of them as you can tell from the picture but it's a great start:

  • QuickLaunch- Quick access to all my applications from the QL Launcher  ($4.99)
  • QuickPull Free - Reset Your BlackBerry Smartphone with out removing battery (Free)
  • BerryBuzz- Custom And Repeating Alerts For Your BlackBerry Smartphone ($5.95)
  • TwitVid- Tweet videos fromyour BlackBerry Smartphone Twitter (Free)
  • TweetGenius - A Robust BlackBerry Twitter Client ($7.99)
  • Viigo- A RSSfeed reader with Podcast audio integration (Free)
Themes On The 9700

As we have seen in the past, it's sometimes a painful experience getting a new device and being a theme lover. Previously we have had to wait for RIM to update the Plazmic CDK in order to get themes. Now while I cannot say this is the case with ALL themes, the themes that I have installed all work on the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and they were downloaded under the intent of them being used on my BlackBerry Curve 8900. This is one of those cases where you have go into purchasing or downloading 8900 themes with the idea they may not work until you know for sure. If you are not will to try that, then of course I suggest waiting for the new Plazmic CDK to be released and check with the theme developers to ensure compatibility.

In The Box

In The Box

The above is what all comes in the Rogers box, minus a SIM card but Rogers will provide that, as well as a 2GB microSD card. All together a nice package but I personally feel RIM took a nice package but cheapened it a little bit by including a cheap headset. A package like this deserved some premium BlackBerry headphones.

Thoughts And Closing-

Device Lineup

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 has a place in the BlackBerry Smartphone lineup. It's a nice progression of devices and has a lot going for it. Nice form factor, 3G data, WiFi and finally GPS all put into one sharp and sexy looking package topped off with a 3.2 megapixel camera.

Anyone out there shopping for a new device or a first time BlackBerry owner will wanna give the BlackBerry Bold 9700 a look as it's an all in one package. And while I still don't personally feel it's deserving of the Bold moniker, maybe it should have been released as a BlackBerry Curve revision? It still has a place among the BlackBerry family and is an exceptional device all around.

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31 comments

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Rogers BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review

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I've been waiting for the 9700 for so long (5+ months now)...so freakin' excited! It will be in my hand by Monday no matter what, even if the world implodes.

Great concise review, but I wish you took more gratuitous shots with a DSLR just for visual engagement.

One thing -- although I have zero consideration for any other BlackBerry and zero patience left, I have a growing feeling (from frequenting the CB forums often and hearing many viewpoints) that buying this is a waste of money. Next year, RIM will probably release this exact same phone with liquid lens camera and HSPA+ compatibility, none of which actually influence my purchasing decision but it's still kind of a bummer to know that what you buy will be obsolete very soon.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the flow of technology, but the fact that it's so predictable what RIM will do says a lot about the direction (or lack thereof?) they're headed in.

Great article, but there is where I get my greatest concern is how AT&T was the 1st and ultimately ONLY carrier to get the BOLD in the 1st place and its going to come in 3rd place to even seeing it. I would have been happy with Tmobile AND AT&T on the same date. Sadly...I do not want a smaller phone, if that were the case I could have just went with the Curve 8900. Guess ill order me a few trackballs, upgrade the OS on my BOLD 9000 to 5.0 and sit this 1 out. As much as I am just going to want to bite the bullet and get it, RIM and AT&T are easily helping me get through my slight feening by not yet having it out on AT&T. The BOLD did great and as a female with nails I am sure I can suck it up and just get past the smaller size though Im starting to feel bad for men and seeing their fat thumbs cramp on BB keyboards... can't imagine what its going to be like. So on that note...n e idea on when the touch screen and keyboard BB will be out? Guess thats my nxt upgrade.

I called tech support and they consulted tier 2
9700 has uma only if it is switched to 2g
to set it up call pda support

Based on my experience with the 9700, UMA worked for me no matter if I was in 3G coverage or EDGE.

So I'm thinking that the tier 2 support is wrong.

It would be nice for people with the devices and TalkSpot service to test this more fully so we can have a conclusive answer.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there regarding this, from Rogers themselves and users with the handhelds. I've had Rogers support say that the phone is and isn't supported on their TalkSpot UMA service. Even this article makes mention that UMA is supported by the device (WiFi (UMA capable but disabled on Rogers version)).

UMA is the only thing that will get me to move to this device, I rely on it too heavily to give it up.

And you're talking about a Rogers 9700? I'm hopefully picking one up from Rogers for the pres of our company sometime this week, so I'll be testing it out before I get one for myself (I won't ditch my 9000 unless UMA works on the 9700, I have zero signal where I work at my desk so UMA would be a huge plus).

If anyone else on Rogers w/ a 9700 could confirm that UMA is working with and/or without Talkspot please post here the steps you took to get it working (if any)! Thanks!

Hi there,
I have one of unlocked rogers 8900 Curve and My PIN is blocked by them. However I am not in Canada and I was wondering if you could help to release my PIN through change device method.
I would really appreciate yours assistance.
PIN: 209E9DD9
IMEI: 359485020005567.
umaire@hotmail.com

Please post details on how you got UMA to work on the 9700, there are lots of folks out there hoping that UMA will work, lots of comments that it doesn't except for yours!

i bought the phone on tues and im absolutely happy with this devise. i had the original bold from when it came out last year and was impressed by that, the 9700 completely dominates any other phone i have ever owned

Hi there,
I have one of unlocked rogers 8900 Curve and My PIN is blocked by them. However I am not in Canada and I was wondering if you could help to release my PIN through change device method.
I would really appreciate for yours assistance.
PIN: 209E9DD9
IMEI: 359485020005567.
umaire@hotmail.com

So, when the revised Tour with WiFi and the trackpad comes out, what will be the difference between them then. Not too much other than GSM vs. CDMA as far as I can tell.

I liked the review for the fact that it was honest. As I read more and more reviews about the 9700 I think more and more I will not get it. I used the 8900 for a day and didn't like how cramped the keyboard was. If the 9700 is anything close I'm not going to like it either. I don't use the camera enough to get the device for that reason alone, and my battery on my Bold isn't too bad and rumored to have a fix with the new OS.

I just don't know. I may have to use my 30 day trial to see if its going to be the device for me.

I know it's been said in the review but why do they roll back to basic uncomfortable headphone. When you pay top dollars you deserve the best. And for me the premium headphone hould be in that box. As for the rest I am not ready to spend 300$ for that new bold because it dosen't bring me much more except maybe for the 256MB witch would be nice on the 9000.

My 2 cents

Sweet if you want a samller phone. For those of us with big fingers though, the 9000 is the still the best bet; just upgrade the battery life & include the new trackpad option.

I just bought the Bold 9700 on Tuesday and just love it!!! Track pad is awesome. No more messing around with the ball! I was using the 8900 from Tmo and it just dosen't compaire to the 9700 and with the 3G (when I can get it) Browsing and using the apps are so much faster.

Hi there,
I have one of unlocked rogers 8900 Curve and My PIN is blocked by them. However I am not in Canada and I was wondering if you could help to release my PIN through change device method.
I would really appreciate yours assistance.
PIN: 209E9DD9
IMEI: 359485020005567.
umaire@hotmail.com

My last BrickBerry was the Bold 9000. I upgraded to the Nokia E71 and was in love with that phone, light years ahead of the 9000. The E71 felt and worked like a 2009 phone should where as the 9000 felt like the old 6700 - same old crap! It felt like it was 2002. I gave the 9700 a shot recently as I was impressed with the reduced size, new build and new track pad. Unfortunately it's still a Blackberry and there's minimal difference from the 9000. I'm switching back to the E71.