RIM's latest BlackBerry Bold offers an upgrade rather than a revolution. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 looks identical to its Bold 9700 predecessor, but features more memory and the new BlackBerry 6 OS. A refreshed home screen, various software enhancements and a better Web browser are improvements.
The BlackBerry Bold 9780 smartphone has an almost identical design to its Bold 9700 predecessor. A glossy black bezel surrounds the edges (rather than a chrome one) and the keyboard curves slightly upwards at the ends. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 is a very comfortable size to hold and feels well built; the battery cover is study and doesn't rattle or wiggle when pressed.
Despite a small, 2.4in display, the Bold 9780's screen is one of the best we've seen on a BlackBerry; it is bright and possesses good viewing angles. Like most BlackBerry smartphones, the Bold 9780 has a best-in-class physical keyboard that provides great tactility and is comfortable to type on for long periods.
The BlackBerry Bold 9780 is controlled mainly via an optical trackpad. It has no moving parts and you simply glide your finger across an almost flat surface. The speed of on-screen movement and scrolling using the trackpad takes a little getting used to, but it is responsive; its sensitivity can be changed in the settings menu.
The BlackBerry Bold 9780 runs BlackBerry 6 OS. The home screen looks attractive, and uses a very handy notifications bar that drops down when you select it. This shows all your notifications including e-mail, calendar, text messages, and social network updates. The BlackBerry OS 6 also integrates "Social Feeds," aggregating feeds from Facebook, Twitter, RSS and BlackBerry Messenger among others.
The BlackBery Bold 9780 uses what RIM calls a "drawer" to store applications. Swiping across the screen will access different draws; all of your applications (main menu), your favourite apps (user definable), media, downloads from BlackBerry App World, and frequently used applications. Unfortunately, these drawers can't be edited or modified, apart from choosing what to place in each one.
The BlackBerry Bold 9780 has an excellent universal search tool, and the handset offers a much better Web browsing experience than previous BlackBerry devices. Zooming in on a block of text automatically makes it fit to the width of the screen, and you can open new Web pages in tabs (then scroll through them using an excellent Cover Flow–like view). Panning around a page using the cursor and clicking links is still inferior compared to other handsets. There is also no Flash support.
Though many aspects of BlackBerry OS 6 have been improved we still feel it is best used with a touchscreen. For example, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 enables you to tap the notifications bar for notifications, the clock to set an alarm and the speaker to access sound profiles; all more intuitive than using the trackpad to scroll around the screen.
Being a BlackBerry device, e-mail support is as strong as ever. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 supports e-mail services through the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES). Microsoft Word and Excel documents can be edited and viewed thanks to the on-board Word To Go and Sheet To Go applications. In addition to 3G connectivity, the BlackBerry Bold 9780 has Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth capabilities.
The BlackBerry Bold 9780 provides access to BlackBerry App World, RIM's third-party app store. It doesn't boast the same number of apps as Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market, but paid apps can be purchased in Australia (using PayPal) and most of the popular apps (such as Facebook, Twitter, eBay and Windows Live Messenger) are available.
The Bold 9780 is also capable media player that features a refreshing interface, and the 5-megapixel camera also doubles as a video recorder. One real positive is the BlackBerry 9780's battery life — it often lasted almost three days during testing, placing it far ahead of most of its rivals and making it a handy device for road warriors.
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