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BlackBerry Bold 9900 review

Finally some top-end specs. Has BlackBerry ripened with age?

The big selling point of the Bold 9900 is the same as the Torch touted last year – this is the first device to offer BlackBerry's newest OS.

For weeks, every sign for the Torch we saw proclaimed it was the "only handset running new OS 6". Pah! How very last year. In fact, the Bold 9900 runs the brand spanking new OS 7. That's just as well, since as we've previously reported, OS 7's hardware requirements mean it won't be coming to older models.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review os 7

Cosmetically, OS 7 takes its cues from the PlayBook. Gone is the standard blue-and-white grid format that we got in OS5 and, to a certain extent, an updated version of in OS6. The icons on OS7 are all very much individual. In fact, it looks a little bit of a mishmash and we couldn't help thinking of the busy look that OS4 provided when you had the app drawer open in the old days.

There's no kind of uniformity here and, while we are big fans of the clarity of icons, we have to admit we think this is where it all looks a bit cheap. We know die-hard BlackBerry fans will be left open-mouthed at that statement, but it's all about first impressions.

Aside from that, although there have been some tweaks, it doesn't feel that revolutionary. This does not look like a new OS by any stretch of the imagination. It looks like an updated version of OS6 and should probably be marketed as OS6.5 rather than getting its own new number.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review os 7

As before, you have numerous app drawers you can swipe through (favourites, recent, downloaded and so on), although you can now manage which ones you want to see via the menu.

We found these drawers to be a bit pointless and distracting on our old 9780, so are glad this option is here. RIM has also decided to remove the option to have two rows of icons on the home screen from the preferences, so you're now stuck with one.

As before, you can search anywhere within the phone using the keyboard, which is kind of like smart dialling, but searches through more than just your phone book.

When OS7 was announced, we were told that it would be easier and faster to use. And there's no doubt that it is faster. Whether that's down to the 1.2GHz processor under the bonnet, or tweaks in the code of the OS, we don't know (probably both). But next to our ageing 9780, the Bold 9900 zips along and leaves its elderly relative barely able to keep up.

BlackBerry bold 9900 search

Also promised on the original press release was the option of voice-activated searching (the web as well as your own content.) We admit we struggled to find this option on the Bold 9900 we were provided with. It could be that it didn't make the final cut, or could be a future update - but we saw no evidence of it.

BlackBerry operating systems have always been among the more complex to get to grips with when compared to iOS or Android. Not difficult to pick up per se, but so customisable that it can all become a little overwhelming (trying to change custom notifications for individual apps can land you with a spell in The Priory).

BlackBerry bold 9900 os 7

If you're buying the 9900 just for the basics, you'll get by OK with OS 7, but then the chances are you won't be buying this phone anyway.

We imagine anybody willing to spend the cash in order to get their hands with a premium handset like the 9900 will be doing it because they want the more advanced features. Come prepared with either past experience or the willingness to put in a little effort.

Other than that, there's nothing really that different in here unless you count a few updated icons within the settings menu and tweaks to the browser, which we'll mention later.

Don't get us wrong, though – there is nothing bad about this OS. We would much rather have it than OS6. But it just feels like a bit of a let down that not much appears to have changed. Even a couple of extra themes in there would have been nice to just to whet our appetites. Alas, no.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen, QWERTY
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory8 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, GPRS
SAR Value0.76 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyBold
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraNo
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourCharcoal
Operating SystemBlackBerry
Brand NameBlackBerry
Product Model9900
Screen Size7.1 cm (2.8")
Screen Resolution640 x 480
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)130 g
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersionBlackBerry OS 7.0
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height115 mm
Width66 mm
Depth10.5 mm
Radio TunerNo
ManufacturerBlackBerry
Product NameBold 9900 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Product LineBold
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeProximity Sensor, Accelerometer, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part NumberPRD-39473-019
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.uk.blackberry.com
Marketing Information

Have it your way. Every time.

Whether you're typing an email or accessing data - the new BlackBerry Bold lets you have it your way, every time. From the responsiveness of the BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard to the fluidity of the touch screen - you can communicate and interact with information like never before.

Loaded with power and performance.

With a 1.2 GHz processor and 8GB of expandable memory, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 smartphone is the very definition of high performance. It also features the best in Wi-Fi technology - so you can quickly tap into Wi-Fi hotspots whenever you need to. And with an HD video recorder, you can even capture exceptional moments in all their vivid detail.