Thoughts on the BlackBerry Bold 9650 - One week later

Verizon Bold 9650 vs. T-Mobile Bold 9700
By Adam Zeis on 15 Jun 2010 02:09 pm EDT

To say I was excited to receive my BlackBerry Bold 9650 would be an understatement. A long-time Verizon customer, I had been a CDMA user since I got my first BlackBerry. Where I live Verizon service is by far the best, so I was more than anxious for the latest device to get in my hands. After using my Tour for quite a while, I jumped over to the Bold 9700 (using T-Mobile) and fell in love. The device is amazing on many levels. Mostly how it feels in your hands and the insane battery life. There have been times however (many, many times) where I missed Verizon and my CDMA devices. Venturing out into some areas I completely lose service with T-Mobile, while Verizon is still going strong. I find myself at times carrying two devices in case I need to make a call while my 9700 is sans-service. I've complained on more than a few occasions (and a podcast or two) on how badly I wanted to be back on Verizon with a new device. Enter the Bold 9650.

When it arrived at my door last week, I couldn't wait to get it out of the box. I made a cup of coffee and sat down at my desk, Bold 9650 in one hand, Bold 9700 in the other - USB cable at the ready so I could fire up the device switch wizard.  As the process ran, I looked over the manual and impatiently waited for things to get done. When the process was complete, I yanked the cable out of the 9650 and started to play. I moved around some icons and got things sorted out. I checked out some of the pre-installed Verizon apps as I  readjusted to the larger keyboard. I was so happy to be back with Verizon that I couldn't put the device down. I plugged it in to make sure it was fully charged since I knew on its first day it would be getting some heavy use. 

After trying to get some work done I went about my day, fully-charged 9650 in hand. I already noticed that it was larger and quite a bit heavier than the Bold 9700 I was used to. I never had a problem with the size of the Tour 9630, but coming off a smaller device the 9650 seemed that much bigger. I had some trouble at first with the keyboard as well, but after a few hours I was a happy user again and had adjusted to the size, weight and keyboard of my new device. The next few days I was fine and dandy. I was loving the device and so excited to be rolling on Verizon's network again. As I cranked out my Bold 9650 review I was feeling great, and happy to finally have a great device on a great carrier.

Over this past weekend things started to take a turn however. I was having trouble holding the 9650 comfortably and typing at times. I know it sounds trivial, but it just felt odd and was starting to bother me. I was so used to the small size of the 9700 that this was really starting to irk me. I found myself moving the device from hand to hand, just "inspecting" it and thinking about my now neglected Bold 9700. I started to weight the pros and cons in my head, and asking myself just why I preferred the Bold 9650 ... or if I did at all. My main reason for the switch was obviously the carrier. Verizon service for me is far superior to that of T-Mobile. In my 10+ years I have rarely had times/locations where I have been without service. With T-Mobile however, I find that many locations I frequent have no service at all and I find myself extremely thankful for Wifi in places that have it. This alone has long been my reason for wanted to be back with Big Red. I was also excited to have double the memory. The 512MB on the 9650 is pretty sweet and I can't help but look forward to BlackBerry 6. Then again, BlackBerry 6 isn't here yet, so do I need to use the device now to be ready for it? My battery was making it through the day at this point, but I was still spoiled and knew that my 9700 could get me through at least 2 days without a charge. I actually worried about my use later in the day on the 9650, fearing it would drop into the yellow and the battery would die on me. With my 9700 I never had this issue. Tons and tons of comparisons ran through my head as I went back and forth. What was I really gaining from using the Bold 9650? 

I picked up the 9700 in one hand the 9650 in the other. I spun them both around a few times, checking out the weight and feel, and as I stared at them for a minute, I realized that was that. I was officially abandoning my shiny new, barely a week-old, Bold 9650 and going back to my mostly reliable Bold 9700. I had lasted this long with it, and I asked myself how many times I had dropped service and not been able to pickup Wifi (or at least survive until I got back into a decent area) and the answer didn't phase me. Out came the laptop, up went BlackBerry Desktop Manager and the swtch back began (I actually had a load of issues switching back - so it was either a sign or just another story for another time). I looked at the 9650 as my information was slowly pulled from it and I surprisingly wasn't all that sad. As much as I had wanted the device for months and months it just really wasn't going to work out for me and back the Bold 9700 I went.

Now all that being said, I am by no means saying the Bold 9650 is a bad device - I think its' a great device. CDMA users have always got the shaft when it comes to new devices, and this is one of the first they can be proud of. The device itself is solid, it has Wifi, an optical trackpad and a boatload of memory. When BlackBerry 6 comes along this guy will be ready to get it on. For users that don't have the option or the means to switch to a GSM carrier, the 9650 is in my opinion the way to go at this point, and one of the best CDMA devices there is. But ... for users that DO have the option to go with GSM, at this point I feel that is the better way to go. I'll stand by the fact that I think the Bold 9700 is probably the best device RIM has cranked out to date. The small size is easy to hold and carry, the keyboard is easy to type on for almost everyone, and the battery life is truly amazing. Obviously things like carrier and coverage come into play, but when weighing the options, I feel that using the Bold 9700 is a much better route at this point. Sure, life would be easier if everyone just played nice and we could use any device on any carrier, but until then we have to make choices. My choice (for now) is to use the better device on the not-so-great carrier. It has treated me well thus far, and I just feel that the pros of the Bold 9700 outweight the pros of the Bold 9650. 

Conclusion ... for now ...

So take this for what it's worth. Its just a rant from my end, but I felt the need to get it out there. We all know that BlackBerry isn't perfect, and I realize sometimes it sounds like we love all devices that come out no matter what. Like I said, the Bold 9650 is a great device, but the Bold 9700 is a better one. BlackBerry suits me and my needs. I don't play games and I don't need fancy novelty apps. I need messaging and thats what BlackBerry does for me. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this or either of the devices. You don't have to leave a comment about how they both are crap and you bought an iPhone or Android phone - we have other sites for that :-)

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Thoughts on the BlackBerry Bold 9650 - One week later


I've had mine for over a week myself, and I can't complain. Being somewhat of an avid BlackBerry user myself, with this in my hands, it definitely was worth the upgrade from my old 8330. Does the job, and quickly!

I am in the same boat i HATE VZW and have for years they don't have a single phone that I would be happy with. The bold 9650 shouldnt even be called the bold it is the same boring tour

the 9700 is > 9650. VZW couldnt even give us the bold with the cool looking back I am so bored of all their phones

I am switch it ATT for iphone 4 and am going to live with the service

I carry an AT&T Bold 9700 and VZW Storm2 9550 (with Seidio 2600mAh battery) and while the Storm2 can *barely* last a full day from 7AM to 11PM, the Bold 9700 could probably go ALL WEEK on the OEM battery. Pitiful!!! I love my Storm2 and won't switch entirely, but it is just a crying shame. Why can't RIM BlackBerry get a solid battery device on a CDMA carrier?

If I understand the technology correctly, CDMA simply uses more power than GSM. Once VZW completes the switch to LTE, which is based on GSM, I bet the battery life will be more even on similar devices.

I agree with this, but how longer will we have to wait? I'm suspecting at least another 12 months. Meanwhile can we have confirmation that RIM is making LTE devices that will be launched with the network launch?

Also, I was under the impression that LTE was just for data, meanwhile voice calling would still take place under 1x CDMA? However, I suppose that would still benefit battery life since the always-on data connection won't use CDMA anymore.

I know it's not RIM's "fault" for CDMA sucking battery life so much, but they could send the phones out with better batteries!!

Don't forget - the CDMA device for VZ needs two chips in there in order for it to be a "world phone" (CDMA and GSM).

So, they have less room for things like a bigger battery, and the components are all active and using juice.

GSM is better at power management overall.

you would switch to have less than stellar coverage just go be able to type a bit better? looking at the picture both keyboards look identical. i guess maybe the bold is a bit wider? could it be that much different?

I stopped by the AT&T and VZW stores during my lunch break and the 9700 is much sleeker and better built imo than the 9650.

Not just to type better. Device is smaller, lighter and battery life is way better. Device is overall just better in my opinion so I choose to make take the chance of crappy service.

i'll give you the battery life arguement, but is it really that much smaller/lighter? coming from a storm, the bold is plenty light/small for me.

i'd say the big selling point between the two then would be what's more important.....battery life vs better service coverage.

for me, battery is not a problem because i can charge all day if i wanted to while i am at work.

I've read somewhere that it takes 4-5 charge cycles to condition a new Li battery to it's full potential. Could it possibly need a few more charges?

Most BB users do not have issues with AT&T coverage. Side by side to an iPhone, I'll have full signal / no dropped calls while the iPhone has one bar.

this device was a snooze from announcement. I had the Blackberry Tour and this device is another lame "new" product at a full 200 bucks. Just a track pad and wifi with some more memory. It didnt even need a review. You guys already reviewed it last year (9630). And your right the reviews are always good no matter if its deserved

Had a Tour and a Bold9700. Same old, same old. RIM is becoming complacent as Palm was on their high horse back in the day. And the new future devices are of no help either.

no matter the device that you have or the service provider that you choose to use the feelings of the phone and how they are will always be left to the individual that uses it. My first BB is the Tour. I love it and my Verizon Service. but with that said i have never owned another BB or have had another service provider. so i might be some what jaded or blinded to what is out there.

Upgraded to the 2600mah battery and I have zero battery problems. CDMA vs GSM battery life has basically always been what it is. It's one of the drawbacks, not really a drawback for this particular device.

I don't really see typing being a large difference though...

Those who want a light device are way better off with a 85xx series anyhow. I've never had weight be a dealbreaker on a device personally...

I think the reason for the battery life difference is because CDMA devices need to have the cellular technology built in AND include a SIM card for people who want to use their device worldwide, which leaves less space for the battery. GSM devices use a SIM card domestically, and they can also be used worldwide with the same technology so that leaves a little more room for the battery life. Just my reasoning for why GSM has better battery life most of the time...

A device is only as good as the service it is on. WiFi or not, if the service is horrible, the phone is just a really big, small capacity flash drive. If you need to count on Wifi at ANY time to utilize your device then it is not worth it. It sounds to me like you don't use your devices for much more than medial entertainment apps. No service=no email, calls, SMS, or web. If you're ok with that then I don't see a point in having a blackberry.

Why not utilize wifi, it works a hell of a lot faster than the network connection and on T-Mobile its like a second lifeline because of the UMA which lets you make calls and sms over the wifi connection. If I ever find myself in an area with wifi I switch over to it instantly.

but the point was that needing to RELY on WiFi when service is unavailable is ridiculous and a bad habit. Service trumps wifi, ALWAYS. I guarentee if you're stranded somewhere, where T-Mobile doesn't reach, and there is no wifi you would be cursing them. How possible is it that it could happen? Extremely. Then there is the security issue of (public) wifi. Please, connect your corporate device, or even personal toa public wifi. There's nothing more enjoyable then sitting in a starbucks and seeing what everyone has on their laptop, iPhone, droid or Blackberry because they think things are secure.

Good post Adam. I have the 9650, and with my paws, I wish it was the size of the 9000. Consistent signal strength and messaging is what i need, so VZW works for me. I also have the 2600 seidio battery, so I get the best of both.

I guess I'm sort of surprised by this post...I read the whole thing, but I only found two things being communicated:

Battery life is not as good and keyboard is bigger. Couldn't these have been communicated when Adam got his 9700 going from the Tour (but in reverse)?

Unless I'm mistaken, I always thought CDMA phones (regardless of brand/model) always sucked compared to the GSM phones. I personally experienced this back in my Moto Razr days (I had both CDMA and GSM versions).

Also, from my understanding, the Bold 9650 is just a Tour with more memory, Wifi, optical trackpad, and the upside down green phone button...

Different chipset + different amount of memory + different input device + wifi is a bit of a change if you start adding it up.

Most look at it cosmetically and say it's the same as the Tour...

It is nice to hear which device you guys choose. Me personally would take coverage over any phone. Would go back to non smart phone before going to AT&T or Tmobile because I would hate not having coverage. Whats the point of a cell phone if you can't use it because of lack of signal. For all that complain about the good reviews, get your reviews from a non BB fan site. They use the BB because it does what they need, they don't play games good, the are messaging phones and that is what the reviews are based on and no other phone competes with a BB in messaging.

9650 was to heavy (we're talking ounces), doesn't drop calls & has too much memory...I wanna sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.

I had a 9630 for a year, and it was much better before the recent barrage of updates, which brought the battery life down and the web-click issue.
My trackball on the 9630 was evil, and so I got the bold 9650 three days ago.
Size is the same, trackball is better, speed is better, and browser is fixed. However, my major complaint is battery life. For the last 10 years, I have always had blackberries that could last a full day on a charge, but this one can't.
It makes me wish for the days of the old extended battery packs. :)

I'm on verizon currently, and am considering the T-Mobile switch just for the 9700. I would love to have that (unused) 9650 to take for a spin though, in case you're willing to part ways ;)

I could not agree with this conclusion more. A friend of mine has the Tour which is the same build as the Bold 9650 and I didn't like it at all. I love my Bold 9700 because it automatically picks up on WiFi when 3G is not available and almost everywhere I go theres wifi. I look at my Bold 9700 and feel the fake leather backing and just glaze at it as if it was some magical little angel that keeps me connected to my ridiculously connected world, and wonder; what would I do with out you. I know sounds kinda perverted but anywho! I think the size and quality of the device speaks for itself and its not just a refresh with a new track pad like the 9650 its a completely new device and is well deserving of its praise. Bold 9700 til I die or until the next best Berry comes out that can match it.

I went through the same thing when switching from Sprint to T·Mobile. We went full on into using UMA and loving the wifi ability of TMo but are still often without a cell signal.

When the 9700 rolled out I scored one through a trade and used it for one week. I hated the feel vs. the 8900. Sure the trackpad, battery life, and 3G were worth the upgrade, but I continuously hit the Lock button forcing me to type in my password.

I've had the 8900 for a long, long time and still love it.

Pearl 3G next for me.

I'll take that 9650 off your hands, since you don't seem to want it anymore! No use having a good piece of electronic equipment sitting around gathering dust. :D

You beat me to it! I was going to ask Adam if he would want to sell it. I really need wifi on my phone. But I wonder if Telus would activate it on the network. It's always a little more complex with CDMA phones...

After using a Bold 9700 foe the past 6 months, I recently bought the 9650 as I wanted to have an exclusive BB (The 9650 is not sold in Europe).
I'm using the 9650 since 2 weeks now and here are my feelings:
Carrier isn't an issue in Switzerland, I use both with GSM network and sim card.
The 9700 has a better built quality, the 9650 is an improvement compared to the Tour but is still not reaching the quality of the 9700.
Talking about size, coming from the Bold 9000 (And missing it), I prefer the 9650 size; it fits better to my hands. The 9700 is too small for BB standards.
I also prefer the 9650 keyboard; it feels more like the 9000.
Overall, I prefer the 9650; that's the reason why I'm selling my 9700.
The day that RIM will give us a flagship device with the 9000 size and actual specs, I'll be the happiest man in the world!

I'm sorry, I thought this was a review of the 9650, not you writing a love letter to your 9700. Geez, this was a waste of my time.

Sorry .. should have titled it better. Not sure it was a "love letter" but was just trying to convey my point the best I could. My apologies for wasting your time.

yeah, probably "comparison" would have been better, but I got a lot out of it -thanks.

For me some of the best reviews are done in a comparison.

I have been looking for a good 9650 v. 9700 review.

I like the balance of pros and cons out of the two closely related devices.

In fact if the editors of Crackberry are looking for good posts do "inner-blackberry" comparisons.

OF course a bias is expected, but the reader can get what they want from that.

Good post.

I remember all the brouhaha about this phone. My immediate reaction was: if you have a Tour, keep the Tour. WIFI never played much of a role in my life even when I had it on my Nokia, enhanced memory is all well and good, but 256 MB is more than enough for my needs, and a trackpad is cool but hardly enough of a reason to switch to a whole new device $200 later. And OS 6.0 seems more of a cosmetic change than 5.0 was. Since I am with Sprint, I began to cast loving glances at the HTC EVO.
A month later, I still stand by my arguments. The 9650 (nope, I won't call it the Bold; the only thing bold is how RIM comes out with the very same phone a year later, and names it something else, which is like admitting that it goofed on the Tour). The battery life is the same. They didn't even bother adding one stinking Megapixel to the camera to make it worthwhile. Everybody has his preference, and I will say that I have always preferred the looks of the Tour with its red trimmed keyboard to the Bold 9700.
The irony, though, is that rather than waste an upgrade, I might still get the 9650. I've tried the HTC EVO, and hated it; it's like carrying a mini TV in your pocket. Since there is really no other phone out there competing for my affections, it looks like I might get the 9650 after all, despite the bitter taste in my mouth. We'll see.

I have been with VZW for almost 10 years. Had almost 10 devices including 4 blackberries. Then every time I get that new device, I look at what the GSM carriers offer and find myself quite disappointed at my new but outdated CDMA device. Why can't Big Red use some of their muscle to convince a cell phone manufactuerer to give them A BADASS NEW device instead of recycled crap. They couldn't even put a new battery door on the 9650! I am a satisfied tour user, but just wish I could have the coolest device on the street AND have the best network on the block. :(

yes you are right..this was just a whining rant.. and should not have been allowed front page billing on sound like one of the "my BB is better than your BB" trolls in the forums.

You simply dont get it do you?.. this phone was not designed for folks on TMO or ATT who have the 9700.. This phone was designed for Sprint and Verizon, and as such it is THE BEST BLACKBERRY THEY CAN GET

You are entitled to an opinion that the 9700 is a better phone for sure...but at least i dont have to carry a spare phone on another carrier just to make calls.........

people on VZW and Sprint should be able to purchase a phone that's equal to what is available on AT&T and Tmobile, though. And if just looking at the two phones, the 9700, imho, is a superior device. The only thing that the 9650 has going for it is the added memory. Form factor and battery life easily go in favor of the 9700.

Maybe it didn't come across well, but I stated that it is the best CDMA device for Verizon/Sprint users. Was simply stating that if there is a choice, I feel that the 9700 on a GSM carrier is the way to go - unfortunately CDMA users don't have the option for the 9700.

I appeciated the review and thoughts versus the 9700 as I'm thinking about switching form Big Red to AT&T just for the 9700 for the reasons you list.

Not sure why everyone here is so whiny.

Hey man since you don't want it any chance you wanna give it to me... i am currently using a 9630 on bell mobility in canada.. and they have not released bb os 5.0 and i dont trust myself to use a leak and upgrade... does anyone have any idea when they might or why they havent yet? cause they dumped the phone and no longer sell it...

You don't need to use a leak, just get Verizons latest official os. Its pretty safe. It seems unlikely they will release an os update if they are not even selling the phone anymore.

Does anyone know of a link or video thatll show me how to load up a non bell update to my tour sorry im so confused still

oh it didnt matter i ended up bricking it... whatever 4 hrs later im back to where i started thank God for BBSAK and desktop manager backup :|

I think perhaps the best thing RIM could have done was to drop the Tour form factor completely and just insert a CDMA radio into the Bold 9700 frame. I think it looks sleeker.

Beside the occasional stuck trackball, Ive been okay with the Tour. A larger keyboard would be better for me. Im in no hurry to get the 9650 since it will cost me over 500.00. Chances are they will have another improved device by the time I qualify for a discount at Verizon.

I must disagree and agree with Adam Zeis. Where I live in Albuquerque, Verizon is the inferior network. In fact, for most of New Mexico it is, especially the eastern side of the state, Verizon has very spotty and poor coverage. On the other hand, i just switched to T-Mobile and the Bold 9700 and I am completely sold on the carrier and the phone. Both are truly amazing and the cost is literally almost half of what I was paying at Verizon and the customer service is by far superior to that of Verizon. The Bold 9700 on T-Mobile for me is a win win!!! BTW - on the subject of 3G, since Verizon is trying to sell the public on the idea that they have the best and the most, T-Mobile's "EDGE" is way faster the Verizon's 3G, and T-Mobile's 3G is amazingly fast and Verizon can not even touch it. I firmly believe when Verizon releases their "4G" network, it still will be slower then T-Mobile's current "3G".

Adam, good post. I enjoyed reading this and I agree with much of what you said. Here's my take if you're interested: While I can't say that I'm overwhelmingly pleased with my 9650, I certainly can't say that I'm disappointed either. The 9650 just kind of 'is.' It isn't outstanding at anything in particular, and as far as Blackberrys are concerned it isn't awful at anything either. I really feel like the 9650 has no personality; it's very uneventful. I am a Blackberry fan through and though, and even I find myself feeling mostly indifferent towards it.

When I had my Storm 9530 I largely disliked it, there were times when I enjoyed having it around because it was nice to have a device with a big screen, but I would say that generally speaking I was unhappy with it. It was kind of a lousy experience. On the other hand, I was madly in love with my Bold 9000 and if it weren't for AT&T's shoddy coverage in my area I would probably still be using one. I regularly miss that phone. Seriously, the day I gave that phone up it was like having a pet die. Dramatic, I know, but it's the truth. I also had a wonderful experience with my Curve 8330, my first Blackberry and my first smartphone, and I would say that purchasing that device was a big turning point for me in terms of staying connected, and the damn thing was bulletproof, so I have very fond memories of that device aw well. Now here I am with the newest Blackberry offering and the whole experience has left me kind of puzzled.

I can't decide if it's that my needs have changed, or if it's that expectations are different now for what a 'smartphone' is supposed to be and be capable of, or if it's that the 9650 is really as unremarkable as I think it might be. I can tell you with certainty that I won't be returning my 9650, it doesn't have any qwirks that I can't live with and it's a whole heck of a lot better than my Storm 9530, but I can also say with equal certainty that I am already looking forward to my next Blackberry. I am content with the 9650, I am relatively satisfied, but I am not thrilled. It works. It does the job. That's about it.

I'll reiterate by saying that I haven't found anything I positively dislike about the 9650, it doesn't appear to have any real problems at this point and it's been very reliable and dependable for the week or so that I've been using it, but I don't think I've found a reason compelling enough to not consider the next BlackBerry device when it comes around either. So until that happens I will use my 9650 and be grateful that it isn't a pain in the rear like my 9530 was, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Blackberry has up it's sleeve for us in the future.

If I lived in an area with solid GSM coverage, and never left it, I would have the 9700 for battery life mostly. It also nice to have a whole planet of carriers to approve OS releases.
IMO the whole size/weight argument is silly. It's all what you get used to. How many people say the 9630/50 is too heavy and too big, then innocase their 9700, bringing it up to the 9630/50 dimensions anyway?

Does anyone know how to load up say a vzw os update onto a non vzw blackberry?? i downloaded the link and installed the os onto my comp... no idea what to do now

Interesting take on it all. The debate will always go on about the phones that come to market. The comparison between the 9700 and 9650 is helpful to those who have a choice coming up between carriers. I have a Storm I and a Bold 9000 (work). I like both for different reasons. The Storm is close to renewal and I am not in a rush to leap to the 9650. I feel the same way with the 9000. I'm not too excited about going to the 9700. I'm waiting for maybe the next ones to come out. Both of my phones work very well with the occasional issue. We have had iPhones in the family and now an Android. Both were/are great. They weren't without some issues as well. I like all the choices and the next go around I hope to have the one that fits me and my uses best. Been a BB user since the 7250 so all of these seem light years ahead.

I have to ask the question, is 1 week really long enough to decide that the device isnt as good as the device you have been using daily for at least the past 3 months? I have many friends who HATED the Storm 1 when it came out, but they played with it, used it everyday and it is now one of their favorite phones to use. I dont think 1 week is really a fair comparison to decide if this phone is worth the switch.

Im getting one, but thats because Im still using my 8330 Curve. Many of us who dont spend hundreds of dollars on new phones every 6 months are. And I think that the 9650 offers plenty in the way of upgrades compared to what I have.

I am also in the camp where service trumps form factor. I can learn to adjust to a form factor in time. I cant adjust to being laid out on the side of the road somewhere and not being able to make a call to 911 because I have no service. for me, service > form factor

I STILL like the overall feel/size of the 9000 in comparison to my 9700 but other than that I agree that 9700 is the best device by RIM so far...

I personally love the 9700, but couldn't take the bad coverage and dropped calls. While the 9650 isn't as sexy or small as the 9700, it does the job, thanks to the VZW service.

Couple of things to note regarding the 9650. There's a BT issue when syncing via BT with DM. The device looks to connect with the desktop every 30 seconds, unless the BT is shut down. RIM has the logs and hopefully working on a fix. Second, the track pad for whatever reason is up on the left side (VZW shipments, not sure about Sprint). Makes scrolling feel a bit odd when not having your finger fully centered. I will say that the call quality has certainly improved over the Tour model. Oh, and boot time still sucks.

Yeah, the 9700 is a better feeling device with incredible battery life (being a former TMO 9700 user), but go with your first instinct as to why you made the switch. Those moments when you need reception and TMO doesn't cover or WiFi isn't available, you'll remember why you initially made the switch.

My sister just got a 9700 on T-Mobile and that thing is great. The battery life is amazing. I had to get a extended batt for my 9630 because the stock batt was not going to do it. If I would have been familiar with BB's when I switched from the Iphone to Sprint I would have went to T-Mobile and a 9700 for sure.

I am sad to hear your bad switch experience. My friend got her 9650 and let me unbox it for her. I even helped her with the switch and everything. She even let me use it for a while to get a feel for it. I loved it. I have a Blackberry Bold 9000, and I did not get the 9700 because it was too small. I can see myself adapting to the 9650 a lot easier than the 9700. I loved the feel on it and the bigger keyboard than the 9700. Everyone has their likes and all. I think both the 9700 and 9650 are great devices, but I prefer the bigger 9650.

With that being said, maybe you could do a contest like Kevin did, where CB Nation could win your 9650? How about it? :)

...thought I was going to be able to take some useful info from your post but instead get that ridiculous argument for going back to your 9700. Do you still sleep with a teddy bear as well?

Hi all, I'm from Indonesia. In my country, GSM carrier are better than CDMA carrier (available starting 2010) for BlackBerry Internet Service. So, most of them that had BlackBerry CDMA actually using GSM carrier. I believe that it can also work with GSM carrier. Is there anyone in USA/Canada that use Bold 9650 with GSM carrier? How the performance compare to Bold 9700? I plan to buy Bold 9650 in the coming weeks :)

"BlackBerry suits me and my needs. I don't play games and I don't need fancy novelty apps. I need messaging and that's what BlackBerry does for me."

The only advantage I see that the 9650 has is the for-sure absolute ability to run OS 6, which we all now know the 9700 may or may not have. :(

funny comments here...i dont think the vzn bold is in the same leaugue as the tour. i have had several tours...still have 2 and the new bold blows it away.

much better build hardware wise, keys are zips..even before the vzn upgrade..

Are some serious about batteries issues! I read things like I could 2 days on the 9700, are you for real?! Do you stay up and use your phone for 2 days straight. Seems to me if you to lazy to plug it in when you go to bed mabey you should try the old sring and can methed, as they never need charging and have better coverage than TM & ATT. I wonder what McGavier would do. Everyone likes something that someones does not. If this was not the case Rim would make one phone.

Are you really saying that you could feel the difference in width (2mm), height (3mm) and weight (14g or 0.5oz)?

Sorry, man, I don't buy it. What I will buy, is that the 9700 has a much sleeker form factor from the outer rim/bezel to the rubberized convenience buttons/volume rocker on the side. It's a much more handsome package.

It seems strange that you would say you need messaging from your Blackberry yet you go to a smaller device. I on the other hand, am a heavy messenger and I feel the 9700 (tmo) sometimes has a keyboard is not large enough to comfortably type as compared to the 8900, 8300 and 8700g which I had prior respectively. I personally would love if RIM put out a device the size of the 9000 again. I've never owned a 9000 but sold one before so I've had a chance to play with it and loved the size of the keyboard.
As far as the memory I don't download a TON of novelty apps but from time to time I do like those that increase my productivity or an entertaining game for this NYC train ride.
From the sound of review I think I would actually love the 9650 but I will patiently wait to see if RIM puts the 9800 out for TMO.

Own the Bold 9700 (T-Mobile) and Tour 9630 (Big Red, GSM/UMTS unlocked)
I guess my (only) complaint on the Bold 9700 (so far) is that it should've been HSPA 7.2 from the get go instead of 3.6.
I like my Tour but like the Curve 8900 I detest the location of the microUSB port and it makes typing ackward whenever the Berry is connected. I had the scrolling issue but I replaced the trackball for cheap and the problem is water under the brigde. I believe that the Bold 9650 should have been a Bold 9700 with CDMA radio.

i truly hope you don't get yourself lost in the boonies and not have coverage, cuz that nice pretty 9700 will only be good as a paper weight holding down your map. coverage is whats important to me, not a phones looks.

I don't understand why everyone is complaining about the bold 9650 just for being .4mm wider than the 9700 when everyone loved the 9000 and it was supposed to be huge! I sold my 9630 and my droid so i could buy this phone at retail and could not be happier with it.

In the prairies, if you want to rock GSM then you will only have service in the larger cities and towns, with absolutely no service in between. Thus, if you need a communication device for work, or are concerned about safety, a CDMA phone is your only option. My wife has a 9630, and I have a 9530, and when the 9650 arrives at our local store neither of us care to upgrade. I'm sure the 9650 is a great device, but it isn't drastic enough for us to break a contract and spend 500$. The 9550 has been here for several months, and I didn't see a large enough difference to warrant dropping the cash to retire my 9530. Next year when both our contracts are up we will both grab the latest and greatest BBs our carrier has to offer. I wish RIM came out with at least one device (poss in the spirit of the 9000?) that really set the standard and blew our socks off (even if it was terribly expensive) I imagine a lot of people, myself included, would break contract and spend the big dollars if the advancement of technology was great enough. Just my two cents.

Very good and honest post, Adam.

I know exactly how you feel! I fell in love with my Storm1 (even with all its flaws) but really, really loved the look and feel of the original Tour - enough to walk into Verizon store and pay full retail price for one within 2 months of its release. I absolutely loved the feel of the tour, but after only a week, I missed the feel of my Storm and wound up switching back to it.

I've owned the VZW 8830, ATT 9000, VZW 9630, and now the VZW 9650. The new Bold is the better BB, I found it to be faster with all the apps I've installed in it, battery life isn't the best but there is always the extended battery. But whats the #1 reason we get phones for? To make a call from any where your roaming about, #2 send and get our emails, #3 keep our selves organized with our contacts and calendar.
Adam Zies, you must have some small hands that seems to have been the deciding factor in your choice and if you think a 9650 is heavy, you need to start working out my friend LOL

I really like the sound of the 9700 the more I hear about it and I'm sure I'd have it if I was still on tmobile. I was with tmo for about 9 years and the reason I left was the lack of service issues in the backwoods places I frequent. I feel that verizon is the best for coverage and beats all others. Thats my bottom line. What good is a device if there is no signal?

Adam - You can't win bro! Either you have people like me who posted that you were way too easy on VZW/RIM in your original review, or others who crush you for stating that the Tour, er, Bold is inferior to the 9700 (which it definitely is.)

Regardless, shame on RIM and VZW for releasing a Tour with a different name and the 3 "new" features that should have been included on the original Tour. If there are any fanboys out there that think this statement is off base, you need to have your heads checked.

really made me laugh!
this is just Adam giving out his personal mini comparison of the 9650 vs 9700. these 2 are currently the best Blackberry devices on GSM and CDMA networks. I can understand how he can say that the 9700 is more comfortable to type on, I have rather wide and chubby fingers, yet I can type so easily on my 8520. I know the 9000 has an awesome keyboard, but I can be just as comfortable on my 8520. Same for him, his 9700 can be just what he needs for typing. Now, on the other hand, I don't understand why someone would prefer bad signal over great signal. I know that TMO has UMA services and stuff, but I would rather be driving and see 3-4 bars on my device than seeing SOS or a single bar.
For CDMA users, the 9650 is definitely the best BB out there, and for GSM the 9700 is the flagship. Each person has their own preferences, so it's up to you to figure out which you stay with.
Whatever makes you more comfortable, happy, satisfied, that's all you need to look out for.

I used to have a Bold 9000 and then a Bold 9700 on AT&T for my work phone and I loved the 9700, so much better than the 9000. Lost my job and the free AT&T service so got a Tour on my Sprint account. Battery life is horrible and though the styling of the Tour is OK, it is not as sexy as the 9700 or even the new Pearl 3G. They really should have made the 9650 look like the real Bold line.

I agree about the 9700 being a better device, in every way. I understand CDMA kills the battery more than GSM, but by now RIM should have been able to figure something out to give CDMA Berry's a little more juice. I cannot change from Sprint, I get 25% off of my bill and a $20 credit every month, for two Blackberry's I pay $87 a month. No other carrier can even come close, and of course the Sprint service is perfect in my area, which lets face it is the most important part of choosing a carrier. Cost of service + coverage > phone selection IMO.

Sometimes Love is Blind.Adam,that was an honest post.It would have been easy to say,at the end,you stayed with your 9650 because of "the Network".Very logical but as many of us know sometimes cell users stay with devices for reasons which don't make sense.

This has by far been the best post I've read on crackberry. I've grown to not really like some of these reviews because they basically go on about how amazing every blackberry device is. You gave it to us straight and didn't do a typical blackberry fanboy move. Thank you for that.

On topic with the actual review, ever since the first bold came out I felt kinda cheated on verizon. Then there were rumors about the javelin and I was stoked to get it- turns out we didn't get it on verizon.. So finally when the tour came out (way late) I was excited... I got the tour, and honestly I think it sucks.. way overhyped.. Then the tour2 information popped up and I got really bitter.. Of course they changed the name just so us original tour users couldn't complain about it, and then they delayed the release quite a long time.

I thought this new bold was gonna be a "cheap" version of the 9700.. frankly thats what it seems like to me, Rim keeps half-assing CDMA devices while giving GSM the goods. If this trend continues I wont be a blackberry user in the future, despite absolutely loving BBM and the BB groups.

(Also I don't buy the whole blackberry 6 hype, if the 9650 gets it- its gonna be way later then expected)

upgraded from the tour primarily for the additional memory and wi-fi. trackpad is nice but takes some getting used to. made sensitivity adjustment, but still need to get used to it. sure, it is the tour on a low dose of steroids. i have never had any issues with the tour and don't expect any with the bold...hopefully.

Holy cr*p do people love to complain on this site. I mean, really... the key board was too big? I mean come on now. LOL!! I mean with all of the other BB issues that are out there the "feel and size" of the device rank at the bottom of the list. I know, its a personal thing. I get that. But the 9650 forum is red hot with issues of how bad this device is. From the battery not holding charges, the device gets to hot, the browser (as is the case with all BB devices) is horribly slow, the optical track is off kilter.

I was ready to go out and buy this device b/c my 8830 is by far the worst phone I have owned from VZW (w/the exception of my original flip phone that was the size of a brick). Now I think I might go droid and get the incredible.

At the end of the day, someone will also b!tch about these devices.

BlackBerry suits me and my needs. I don't play games and I don't need fancy novelty apps. I need messaging and that's what BlackBerry does for me.

Because it can do everything u named and still be a multimedia device

Do not give into temptation, give me the 9650 and live happily forever more with your 9700 and Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas' approval!

this week i actuall thought of getting the iphone 4 or rather pre-ordering it
then i thought about it again and i decided that my blackberry is just too awesome to part with it
i love love love love my 9700!
one of the best phones i've had in all my years of owning a cell phone and i usually buy phones every six months
however when i started buying blackberries i loved them and the 9700 is the one i've had the longest and like i said its not one of as i said before but prolly THE BEST phone i've ever owned :]

Yes the Bold is one half ounce lighter, and the dimensions are with hundreds of an inch! Why does that make so much difference?

Thank you for the the review and comments. Here are my thoughts thus far. I've been a Verizon user since 1994. My last BlackBerry was the Curve 8330, which I used for over two years. My only real complaints were the trackball and battery life. I was excited about the availability of the Bold 9650 and got one last week Monday. Excellent Verizon customer service and easy set once the device arrived -- as expected.

What I like about the phone: trackpad, wi-fi, excellent sound quality (BlackBerry has the best phones qua phones around), well built/feels solid, higher resolution camera, SIM card, speed, memory, Verizon's excellent network (I have to admit that if Verizon had the iPhone I might be tempted to switch; but I'm not willing to go to AT&T for it).

What I'm not thrilled about: weak battery life (I put my device in a cradle at the office every chance I have), camera zoom is only 2x, the keyboard feels odd (not very scientific -- kind of miss my Curve keyboard), battery removal is difficult, and I had to get all new gadgets (cradles, chargers).

Overall it's a winner but not perfect. Maybe in two years my concerns will be addressed in a successor device.


So my HTC Touch Pro was replaced this week by the 9650 after 16 months of service. My issues were the Pro were low speaker volume, windows software issues, the shortest battery life of any phone on the market, the camera stopped working and then the final straw was the sliding qwerty keyboard giving out. I started shopping for a phone with great reviews, decent battery life and no moving parts and found the 9650 Bold. Three days later the Bold was in my hands being activated.

I like the 9650 a lot with the bonus of a nice speaker, a sleek professional styling and what appear to be a boat load of available applications. Sounds like a sales pitch doesn't it???? It is taken a moment to letting the touch screen and wider keyboard features go mentally.

My present issue with the 9650 is the annoying button on the left side which activates the voice dialing feature. I'm not saying I would not like to have the feature but every one in ten pickups of the phone, I have touched the button unintentionally. Once I find the option to disable this feature life should be golden.