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.com. MobileBurn focuses on cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and related hardware. Republished with permission.

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