BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 hands-on impressions

By Dan Seifert on August 17, 2011, 3:47 AM

The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is the latest smartphone from Research In Motion to grace the Verizon Wireless network. It replaces the aging Bold 9650 and brings along a number of enhancements and improvements, including the new BlackBerry OS 7. I have had a Bold 9930 in hand for review for a brief time and I wanted to provide my initial thoughts and impressions before my full review is ready.

The first thing you notice about the Bold 9930 when you pick it up is the quality of the hardware. When I saw the Bold 9900/9930 when it was originally announced at BlackBerry World back in May, the hardware was what impressed me most, and nothing has changed since then. The metal band around the phone gives the Bold 9930 a high-end, exquisite feel that is not unlike the feeling you get the first time you pick up an Apple iPhone 4.

The quality feel flows the back of the phone with its soft touch rubber carbon fiber-esque battery cover. Of course, that keyboard is as good as ever and really provides a great typing experience. The 640 x 480 pixel, 2.6-inch touchscreen display is crisp and bright, though it can be a bit small to navigate at times. Touch responsiveness has been pretty solid, though there have been times when the system would hang and not respond to input for 10 to 15 seconds.

The faster speed provided by the 1.2GHz processor and RIM's Liquid Graphics engine is immediately apparent as soon as you start using the BlackBerryBold 9930. Apps open very quickly and scrolling through menus and lists is effortless. RIM claims that the browser on BlackBerry OS 7 is 40 percent faster than the one featured in OS 6 and 100 percent faster than the one in OS 5.

While the browser is certainly faster and better than previous BlackBerry smartphones, it isn't quite up to par with the browsers on high-end Android phones or the iPhone. The Bold 9930's browser also does not support Adobe Flash content, though it will play back embedded HTML5 videos.

Other than the new hardware and better browsing experience, so far the Bold 9930 has been much of the same that I have seen from BlackBerry smartphones in the past. It is very good at messaging, email, and text-based communication, but it lacks in areas like entertainment and media-rich content. RIM's app ecosystem is not nearly up to the level that Apple, Google, or even Microsoft are at, and the web browsing experience still isn't quite up to par with the competition.

I will be putting the Bold 9930 through the usual review process over the next week or so, so be sure to stay to tuned to see my final thoughts and impressions.

Dan Seifert is the Senior News and Reviews Editor for MobileBurn focuses on cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and related hardware. Republished with permission.

User Comments: 8

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DeliciousPie said:

I just hope the keys are a better quality then the last generation Bold. Both my mother and I have the 9650 (for less than a year, mind) and both of us are having problems with the paint coming off the keys. It looks atrocious and, in the case of my mom's which is much worse, makes some of the alt functions impossible to tell at a glance.

I want Blackberries to be awesome, I really do, but I'm so frustrated with my current one than I'm hesitant to give them a second chance.

My two cents.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Yeah my girlfriend has the exact same bold and has the same issue with the paint. It is frustrating when trying to use the alt function!

I personally couldn't care less and even hope that RIM go bust as I hate supporting BES Xpress Servers and I hate using a blackberry, just isn't very nice to use and i don't understand why I don't have to reboot my iPhone for half a year at a time yet my Girlfirends Blackberry crashes every few days? Its fully updated to OS6 etc...

Also isn't a 2.6inch screen a bit pointless to be touch sensitive? I mean, it has the touch pad to navigate so whats the point in the touch?

Guest said:

*shudders* "supporting BES" Better off just migrating to exchange and getting an android

Guest said:

I have to use BB at work and I hate it! RIM can not die fast enough, there are so many better devices out there.

1977TA said:

Guest said:

I have to use BB at work and I hate it! RIM can not die fast enough, there are so many better devices out there.

I hear ya, luckily ( just this year ) the company I work for has given us the option for a few pretty decent Android phones. They've also offered to pay for iPhone service, but you have to buy the phone.

Guest said:

Sorry, can I have iPhone5 instead please. What BB got what iPhone4 already have it? Plus more!!! ...and iPhone5 next month!!!

I admit BB Bold looks better than iPhone but functionality is light years behind already. Come BB...the word which you look for is called an EFFORT.

Guest said:

This blackberry looks like a big improvement. I had the opportunity to play with one yesterday at the Verizon store. For those of you that like to complain about blackberry please remember that their phones have always been designed for the business user first and foremost. Is it behind the android phones and the iPhone for entertainment and games? No argument here.

I had to recently return a 4G android phone because it couldn't provide basic phone features that are essential for the business user. There was poor call quality, dropped calls and the voice dial was a joke! Yes I tried exchanging the phone and had the same problems. Since then I've been using my old BB Tour. BlackBerry phones are not designed for entertainment!

Guest said:

It is time Blackberry stop the bullshit and fix the problems with their devices:

1) Support Adobe Flash. If the useless Playbook can support it, then so should the 9930

2) Have the autofocus on the camera like before

3) Supply a battery that can handle the day's work

4) Correct the paint peeling off the trackpad

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