The new BlackBerry Bold 9930, and the Bold 9900 series have been along time coming. We reviewed the BlackBerry Bold 9700 all the way back in November of 2009. It has taken almost two years for RIM to come out with an update to their popular Bold smartphone, and a heck of a lot has changed in the smartphone landscape since the Bold 9700 series first landed. During the course of the past two years, RIM has earned many more faithful followers, but they have also lost many to Android and iOS devices. That said, there have been many RIM loyalists who have been impatiently waiting for the next Bold. Well, the new BlackBerry Bold 9930 running the Blackberry 7 OS is finally here, and the big question is, was it worth the wait?
The new Bold 9930 takes design cues from its predecessor, but it’s also more handsome than ever. In a world where so many smartphones look alike, the Bold’s design is refreshing. Quite frankly, we can’t help but describe this phone as down-right handsome. Its stainless silver trim, glossy black exterior, and carbon fiber-like battery cover, scream class and professionalism, kind of like a businessman dressed in a well tailored suit. The device itself measures 4.53 inches by 2.6 inches, it’s just 0.41 inches thick and weighs 4.59 ounces. Overall, the build quality of the device is excellent. and its form-factor provides provides a solid grip. We also have noticed that the device tends to pick up less body grease than its predecessor.
Are you the type of person that enjoys the best of both worlds? Or maybe you don’t want to give up the traditional BlackBerry form-factor but you have longed for a touchscreen experience? Well the Bold 9930 offers you just that – the best of both worlds. The device sports a 2.8″ display with 287 ppi and a 640×480 resolution. This display is super sharp and colorful, and it gets plenty bright. Even though its resolution is a bit non-standard, overall, it’s an excellent display and videos playback beautifully on this display. As a touchscreen, the display is also very responsive. But besides for its touchscreen display, the Bold also packs in a very responsive optical trackpad which can be used to navigate the device very smoothly.
We dare say that the BlackBerry Bold 9930 packs in the best keyboard on a BlackBerry yet. The keyboard is spacious with great tactile feedback, and it’s truly a pleasure to use. Overall, the keys are not too mushy, nor are the keys too stiff.
Performance and User Interface
Under the hood, the BlackBerry Bold is running on a Qualcomm 8655 1.2GHz processor with 768MB of RAM and 8GB of on-board memory. The system performs well and multitasks like a charm. The Bold 9930 is also running on the new BlackBerry 7 OS. This extra horsepower enables the BlackBerry Bold 9930 to offer the kind of fluid and responsive experience that its predecessor lacked. Well, that and the fact that it’s running the new BlackBerry 7 OS, all have helped make the 9930 an even more enjoyable phone to operate than its predecessor.
The BlackBerry 7 OS does not look all that different to the BlackBerry 6 OS that originally debuted on the Torch 9800, but it’s a lot more stable and lag-free. That said, BlackBerry has brought some significant new features to the 7 OS, like smoother fluid graphics – thanks to Liquid Graphics Technology, a faster web browsing experience, support for NFC, and voice-activated universal search. Otherwise, BlackBerry OS 7 packs in all of the aspects we loved about OS 6, and that includes excellent social networking for Twitter and Facebook, great instant messaging integration, push notifications, and a straightforward user interface. The user interface also does a good job of maximizing screen real estate on a nontraditional 640×480 resolution display.
As far as apps are concerned, the BlackBerry Bold 9930 comes with minimal bloatware. Some of the included apps include Documents To Go for creating and editing Microsoft office Documents, the ever so popular BBM (BlackBerry Messenger). BlackBerry Protect for securing your smartphone remotely, Slacker, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, VZ Navigator, V CAST Music, Videos and Song ID.
BlackBerry App world is also ready to go out of the box. BlackBerry App World currently offers a solid catalog of apps, with most of the major players there already. That said, BlackBerry’s apps still tend to not be the slickest of the smartphone app platforms.
The web browsing experience in BlackBerry OS 7 has been greatly improved. Pinch to zoom no longer feels like an effort, and web sites render smoothly. That said, we have been very disappointed by site loading speeds on the 9930. In comparison to the BlackBerry Torch 9810 for AT&T that we just reviewed, the 9930 loads web sites much, much slower This is partly due to the fact that the 9930 is a 3G-only device, while the Torch 9810 is a 4G device. But even so, the 9930′s web loading speeds seem too slow, even for a 3G-only device. So while the Bold 9930 does a good job of rendering web pages, if you’re someone who values having web sites load up fast – then you should probably consider getting T-Mobile’s 4G version of the BlackBerry Bold, the 9900.
Unlike so many other dedicated camera buttons on competing smartphones, the Bold 9930 sports a dedicated camera button which manages to load up its camera app very quickly. The Bold packs in a 5MP camera with 4X digital zoom, a flash, Face detection and Image Stabilization features, and the ability to record in 720p. A 5MP camera might sound weak, but the Bold’s camera actually produces pretty photos for a smartphone. Photos tend to be sharp with pretty good color reproduction, although a bit washed out. Auto focus also works well, and the flash isn’t too overwhelming either. That said, photos do often tend to be too grainy, especially in low light conditions.
Call quality on the BlackBerry Bold 9930 is very good. Callers come though loud and clear. The speakerphone is also very powerful. Unfortunately, we did experience quite a few dead zones and fluctuating reception bars – even in the most crowded parts of Manhattan where coverage should be top notch.
Unfortunately battery life on the Bold 9930 is not as strong as with its predecessor, which had an amazing battery life. Instead, its battery life is pretty average for a smartphone and can manage to get through about a day of average use
Because of its great form-factor, excellent keyboard and display, superb messaging and social media integration, great multitasking and peppy performance, the latest generation of the Bold is the best BlackBerry ever. However, battery life on the Bold 9930 could be better, even the Torch 9810 that we recently reviewed has a bit of a better battery life. We’re also disappointed by the web browsing speeds we have experienced on the Bold 9930, but we don’t blame the BlackBerry 7 OS for that. Instead, if you’re looking for faster browsing speeds, you should consider T-Mobile’s BlackBerry Bold 9900 which is a 4G device. That said, perhaps our biggest gripe with the BlackBerry Bold 9930 is its expensive price tag which comes in at $249 with a two year contract. We really wish that BlackBerry and Verizon would price the device to be more competitive with the slew of other high-end smartphones on the market.
Overall, we’re quite taken with the new BlackBerry Bold 9930, and we’re confident that it will keep BlackBerry loyalists at bay and prevent them from jumping ship. However, we doubt that it will win over iOS users, and it might also have a difficult time winning over many Android users too. Regardless, the BlackBerry Bold 9930 is a very handsome, very desirable, and every capable smartphone which we highly recommend, especially for business users.
The Good: Excellent form-factor and build quality, excellent display, great performance with smooth and responsive OS, great social media integration + messaging experience,
The Bad: Not a 4G device, slow web speeds, some reception issues, needs to be priced more competitively