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BlackBerry Bold 9900 (Bold Touch)

 BlackBerry Bold 9900 Available now
2nd May 2011

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 (or alternatively the BlackBerry Bold Touch) is a classic BlackBerry messaging phone with the addition of compact touchscreen display.

Although it follows the familiar design pattern of other BlackBerry Bold handhelds, the screen on the Bold 9900 is significantly bigger and sharper than its predecessors, at 2.8" diagonal size and 640 x 480 pixels resolution. It's a capacitive touchscreen, and although much smaller than a "traditional" touchscreen smartphone, it is bigger than the one on the competing Nokia E6.

The keyboard is well designed and quite possibly the best in class. The little touchpad controller on recent BlackBerry handsets is easy to use and almost makes the touchscreen unnecessary.

Inside the Bold 9900 is a very fast 1.2 GHz processor combined with 768MB of RAM, which is a lot of power for a handset such as this, and it certainly makes it powerful enough for multimedia playback and gaming.. assuming that the smallish screen isn't a problem for you. There's also a generous 8GB of onboard Flash memory plus a microSD slot.

The operating system is the latest BlackBerry 7 OS, and from what we have seen the user interface at least is a huge improvement over the one found in versions 6 and 5, which is frankly pretty ghastly and not up to the standards of the  BlackBerry Bold 9900 competition. The usual suite of BlackBerry applications are bundled plus a premium version of "Docs to Go". This new operating system will not be available for older handsets, which may disappoint many existing BlackBerry users.

On the back is a 5 megapixel camera capable of 720p video recording (the Bold 9900 can also play back 720p video too). Inside, the Bold 9900 supports GPS, has a built in digital compass, accelerometer and a proximity sensor.

This is a tri-band HSPA+ device with support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi networks plus quad-band GSM. There is also a BlackBerry Bold 9930 variant which adds CDMA/EVDO support for US networks. The Bold 9900 also supports Bluetooth 2.1. The whole package weighs 130 grams and measures 115 x 66 x 10.5mm including the 1230mAh battery.

Although the Bold 9900 is clearly a useful improvement over previous models, it is only really likely to attract existing BlackBerry users looking for an upgrade. It's worth bearing in mind that RIM shocked investors by recently issuing a warning about profits, and their new PlayBook tablet has had some very poor reviews. RIM really need to take some of the expertise that is clearly apparent here and make something that will claw back some market share.

We suspect though that many existing BlackBerry users will want the Bold 9900 very much indeed. It should be available this summer, and although no guidance is available on price, we would estimate that it will be a little cheaper than the Torch, so perhaps retailing at about €400 to €450 at launch.

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BlackBerry Bold 9900 (Touch Bold) at a glance

Available:

mid 2011

Network:

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +

tri-band UMTS

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UTMS (3G) + HSPA+ + WiFi

Screen:

2.8" 640 x 480 pixels

Camera:

5 megapixels

Size:

Messaging device
115 x 66 x 11mm / 130 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

MicroSD (8GB internal)

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

GPS:

Yes

OS:

BlackBerry OS 7

Battery life:

Not specified (1230 mAh cell)

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