Mister Mobility's very late BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 Review

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BB Bold Touch 9900


PS: This review has been in draft since forever. Please don’t ask why it took me so long to finish it up and publish. What can I say?

Quick Review

If you don’t have the time to read the full review, here’s the lowdown:

Pros
– Good in-call audio quality
– Good audio playback quality
– Superb keyboard

Cons
– Poor battery life


Physical Build

Simply put, the 9900 is a solid device that’s put together with good quality materials. It is a looker too. Everything about it – visual and textual – oozes taste. It feels solid in the hands and is a device that you want to be seen with. Well, it is the flagship ‘Berry after all.

Quick Specifications

  • 2.8-inch, 640 x 480 pixels, capacitive touchscreen display
  • 768 MB RAM
  • 1.2 GHz processor
  • 8 GB internal memory + microSD slot
  • BlackBerry OS 7.0
  • 1,230 mAh battery
  • 5 Megapixel camera with LED flash
  • GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA
  • Wi-Fi
  • A-GPS and NFC

OS7

The 9900 runs OS7. Honestly, minus a few visual touches to AppWorld, BBM, Facebook and Twitter, I can’t tell much what has changed visually or in terms of performance. In general, Blackberry OS7 looks and feels just like OS6. Perhaps much of the tweaks to the OS are under the hood.

Note though that some 3rd party apps which ran on OS6 are not yet available for OS7 and I had to do without those while I had the mobile with me.

Display & Keyboard

The 9900’s 640 x 480 pixel touchscreen display is a very nice one. Pictures are crisp on it and it is very sensitive. Having a touchscreen display allows certain tasks to be easier to carry out with less steps, though I had to get used to using the touchscreen. At 2.8 inches, it is quite large for a device with this hybrid form factor and works just fine.

9900 keyboard

The hardware QWERTY keyboard on the 9900 is the best ever on any Blackberry smartphone. Period. It is so good that while i had the 9900, I did all my text-entry related mobile computing on it. I cranked out and published full articles for Mobility blog right on the BlackBerry 9900 effortlessly. Any hardware QWERTY lover will absolutely love the 9900.


NFC

There is NFC on board the 9900, and I was able to exchange files with the Nokia N9 with it.

Camera

The 5 megapixel camera on the 9900 is fixed focus and is nothing spectacular. It doesn’t sit among the best 5 megapixel cameras on the market. However, it is usable for your casual shots and videos. Just don’t expect anything spectacular. Of course, BlackBerries have never been spectacular in the camera department. I wasn’t expecting much. Perhaps we shall see better cameras on OS10 devices, looking at demos that we have seen from the last BlackBerry World event.

Battery Life

Battery performance of the 9900 is not encouraging. With only a 1,230 mAh battery, I found myself needing to charge the device by mid-day. Not good. Very bad for productivity.

Performance

For the most part, the 1.2 GHz processor delivers smooth performance with OS7 on this model. However, you will not escape the pauses and lags with the characteristic spinning wheel letting you know that the device is processing something in the background.

Yes; irritating. Sigh.

General

The 9900 does what all BlackBerries (indeed, other smartphones) do – email, web browsing, SMS, BB Messenger, etc. It also churns out very good quality audio at loud volume – much better than most other smartphones I have reviewed. You know how I love my music – Blackberries have continued to surprise me with how good they are in the audio department.

Conclusions

I honestly find doing Blackberry reviews difficult, because there is little differentiation across models. Minus the Storm and Torch series, they are the same form factor. They mostly have similar features in terms of hardware and software.


The Bold Touch 9900 is the flagship BlackBerry OS7 device, Forget the Porsche – it is just a 9900 inside with a fancy case. If you can live with its pros and cons, the BlackBerry 9900 beckons at you.

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