RIM has been in an uphill fight for relevance for some time. Their once dominant platform become stagnant and became a victim of its own success. But, as the company works diligently to craft a plan to remain solvent, they are continuing to pump out new devices to keep the addicts coming back for more of the Blackberry love.
Up for review is a Blackberry 9930 for Verizon Wireless. This device conforms to what you would expect out of a typical Blackberry and it sticks to Blackberry’s tried and true form factor that the business world has adorned since the birth of the modern smartphone.
The Bold 9930 is being marketed (and priced) as a premium device. For giving up $249.99 of your hard earned cash, you will receive a 2.8in display, BBOS 7, 640x480, 5 MP camera, 1.2 Ghz cpu. The full list of the specs can be found here.
The Bold 9930 is exactly what you would expect from RIM. It fits the mold of the last decade of devices that the brand has built its reputation on. This device feels solid in your hand and is clearly made of high quality materials. Unlike other phones that have a plastic feel to them, the 9930 feels excellent in your hand.
The feel of the phone, in nearly all aspects, is of quality. RIM almost did a perfect job. One issue is the “composite battery door”. Other phones in RIM’s lineup have used a carbon fiber like material in this location that we would have preferred. Aside from this one area, the remainder of the device earns high marks.
RIM has always excelled with call quality on most of its devices. The 9930 is no different. Calls were, as expected, clear and the other end of the conversation could hear us loudly and clearly. The speakerphone was also acceptable at volume and showed little distortion even at high volumes.
RIM included a touchscreen on the 9930. While we have mixed opinions on if it's necessary in this form factor, it is responsive and accurate. We question the choice because at 2.7in, the screen is rather small, so using it for touch because a bit tedious and awkward. The Blackberry OS has been traditionally built for a trackpad/ball.
But others will love the touch screen addition and for that crowd, this device gets it done relatively well.
Otherwise, the screen is bright and vibrant. It does feel a bit cramped when surfing the web but that’s, again, because of the smaller screen. This is not necessarily a bad thing just be prepared if you are coming from a large screen device it does take some time to adjust. The higher resolution of this screen does help offset the cramped feel and over all the display is top notch.
Above all else, Blackberry devices are known for their keyboards and the 9930 does not disappoint. We are willing to say that this is the best Blackberry keyboard ever. Based on the other mobile devices we have reviewed, this is the best keyboard out on the market today. RIM has perfected the keyboard and there is not much else to be said.
RIM has downgraded the battery from a typical 1500 mAh to 1230 mAh. While the smaller battery may concern some, we had no issues getting a full day's use out of the device. Even with above average use, we easily got 8 hours of run time out of the device, which for most users, will be adequate.
One area of disappointment is the camera. Its focus was typically slow to adjust and the extended camera lag did not help the situation. The images below required several attempts to make the images not look excessively washed out or over saturated. Digging around, we found that RIM removed the autofocus feature, which explains some of the issues we had.
Picture taken with Bold 9930
The 9930 finally brings HD video to BBOS platform. Video recording on this device at 720P is middle of the road even without autofocus. As you would expect when recording on a cellphone, the quality is average and gets the job done but don’t plan on it replacing a dedicated camcorder or DSLR with video capture.
Bold 9930 | Tour 9630
The 9930 also has GPS, WIFI, Bluetooth, and all are relatively mundane and expected at this point. GPS had no issues in finding our location in a reasonable amount of time, WiFi connected without any issues and Bluetooth works as one would expect.
All of these other internals are standard items for RIM and it is not surprising that they work without issue.
One qualm we do have is the lack of LTE on this device. If you are targeting the premium crowd, give them the best data possible. Unfortunately, this device is stuck in the land of 3G while other devices for the same price give you 4G.
Volume Up/Down and Select side buttons
While not every device on Verizon’s store shelves is ready for the globetrotting user, this device fortunately is. Underneath the back battery is a standard SIM slot that will allow you to use your Verizon service while abroad, or you can also have the device unlocked and use a local SIM.
Sleep/Unlock button on top of the device
As this device is running a newer version of BBOS, it is worth noting that it does bring a new(ish) feel to the platform. While it does look similar to previous versions, the updates are appreciated and it continues to refine the BBOS experience.
That being said, even with pretty new icons, it’s still the same old BBOS experience. If you liked BBOS 6, you will love BBOS 7. Also, if you are an appaoholic, App world is still a dismal experience compared to iOS and Android. There is no doubt that BBOS 7 can get what you need done, it just may not have the glitz and glam of some of the other platforms out there.
One notable inclusion is an updated browser. The browsing experience is much better on this device than in previous iterations. Scrolling was smooth and browsing was on par with other modern smartphones.
This is the best blackberry to date, period. The keyboard on this device is absolutely phenomenal. It is so good, in fact, that we can overlook a weak OS experience in favor of the keyboard if you are in the crowd that demands a hardware keyboard.
The device is far from perfect, a less than acceptable camera really puts a dent on the experience and one thing we have trouble with is its price. Ringing up the register at $249.99* is tough pill to swallow. Sure, it does feel like a premium device in your hand but sitting next to the iPhone at $199.99 and the Thunderbolt at $249.99 that has 4G, you must really love they keyboard to justify the premium price.
*Price of $249.99 when you sign up for a new two year agreement.