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18 April 2024

Keeping up appearances and more


By David Tusing

Even the most iconic and successful gadgets need a refresh sometimes – a tweak here, an upgrade there – it's a necessary component of every device's life cycle. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is just that.

An improvement on the massively popular Bold 9000, a flagship device, the 9700 is Research In Motion's (RIM) attempt at making one of their star products relevant to the competition while attempting to woo more people to its fold – the smartphone market being as competitive and crowded as it already is.

That said, the Bold 9000, launched in 2008, continues to maintain a strong following among its legions of fans. And the 9700, even as a descendant, is a starkly distinct device. Here's why:

Firstly, the physicalities. The 9700 is sleeker. It's 16g lighter, 5mm shorter, 6mm less in width and 0.9mm thinner than its predecessor. That might not seem much as you read, but you'll see the difference if you stacked up the two. This also means that the keys on the keyboard have been jammed closer together, especially for those used to the Bold, but it surprisingly takes very little getting used to.

Besides the size shrink, while the keyboard layout is traditional BlackBerry, Bold faithfuls will most notice RIM has done away with the iconic trackball, and replaced it with a track-pad, like the newer Curve models. There's been some dissenting opinions on this but if, like me, your life revolves around your BlackBerry, you'll thank your stars for it. Trust me, the track-pad is sensitive and quick to respond. You can say goodbye to thumbaches now.

The right side of the 9700, like the 9000, holds the up/down volume buttons and the singular function key while the left-hand side features another function key, a micro USB port and a recessed 3.5mm headphone port. All more or less the same, except that this time its rubberised and not in the chrome finish like the device of old. On top however, instead of just the mute button, there's now an additional one to lock the screen. You can still do this by holding down the * key. The camera moves up to 3.2MP from 2MP.

The 9700's other advantage is that it ships with RIM's latest operating system 5.0. Featuring a host of new user interface options such as threaded messaging, updated icons and though debated, a faster browser, the latest OS makes this new device all the more fun to use. Icons seem to respond faster, the cursor seems to move smoother across the updated screen. All BlackBerry devices will eventually get an upgrade, but OS 5.0 it seems, was made for the 9700. BlackBerry devices have always garnered high ratings in these pages and the Bold 9700 seems to have kept up appearances. Carrying the flagship tag forward, the 9700 eclipses its predecessor in many ways, and is undoubtedly the best BlackBerry of them all.

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is available at all leading electronic stores for Dh2,700 (without plan)


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