BlackBerry Bold 9780 review

Will the addition of BlackBerry 6 operating system breathe new life into RIM's flagship phone?

TODO alt text

The BlackBerry Bold 9780's design won't exactly provide a huge shock to the system for RIM fans. In fact, those familiar with the Bold 9700 (the 9780's predecessor) will be even less surprised.

It's not just Bold owners who'll be in familiar territory, though. The layout of the buttons on the phone's front is also identical to the Curve 9300.

BlackBerry bold 9780

Evidently, RIM has no particular interest in re-inventing the wheel when it comes to the businessman's favourite line of BlackBerry devices – that can be left to the likes of the BlackBerry Style.

The main difference from the Bold 9700 is the lack of chrome from earlier versions. Whether you lament this loss or feel it's better this way will come down to personal taste, but this November's colours are black, black and yellow. Only kidding! It's more black.

BlackBerry bold 9780

Not that we're complaining, you understand. The Bold 9780's glossy exterior makes for a very handsome handset. It doesn't have the smooth all-covering glass surface we've become used to on everything from the iPhone 4 to the HTC HD7, but with no touchscreen on this BlackBerry, there's no real need for that type of covering.

At 114x66x15mm, the Bold 9780 is comparable in size and shape to the Bold 9700. It's a nice thickness in the hand, and the unit on the whole is just about the right size to get your fingers around.

BlackBerry bold 9780

It weighs in at 136g, which isn't light considering its size. However, we have no problem with a bit of heft on handsets that expect you to use two hands from time to time.

The build quality is excellent (not that we'd expect anything less). There's simply no unexpected give or sloppy joints anywhere on the handset.

There are a few different materials on display here. What used to be the chrome edging is now glossy black, as are the menu keys. The QWERTY keyboard is more of a matt black, as is the area surrounding the battery cover on the back.

The battery cover itself is no longer a sumptuous faux leather. The effect is still vaguely attempted in the form of a lightly mottled plastic, but it's hardly the same. However, it serves its purpose: it's extremely grippy, making the phone feel secure when you hold it.

BlackBerry bold 9780

On the front, the 480x360 pixel screen shines out. It's crisp, clear and gloriously bright. It has automatic brightness adjustment, which is nothing unusual, but it's particularly aggressive here. You can often see it switching about several times in the space of a minute – just as the Bold 9700 did.

Beneath the screen are four familiar buttons. On the far left is the green Call button, and to the right of that is BlackBerry Menu key. In the centre we have the optical trackpad.

BlackBerry bold 9780

On the right side is the Esc/Back key and the Terminate button, which serves double duty as the on/off button.

Beneath that is, of course, the keyboard. The keys have a certain curve to them depending on whether they're on the keyboard's right or left side. We're not convinced this really makes a difference to usability, but the fact remains.

We'll go into detail on using the keyboard for messaging later in the review, but we will say that the keys have a firm click when you use them, offering a nice amount of feedback.

The keyboard is backlit too, nice and clearly. It's fair to say you'll have no night-time usability issues here.

BlackBerry bold 9780

On the left-hand side of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone port, the micro-USB connection for charging and hooking up to a PC, and a button that launches the voice dialing function.

BlackBerry bold 9780

On the right side are two volume keys and a camera shutter/shortcut. The camera and voice dialing buttons can both be customised to perform other functions, if you're so inclined.

BlackBerry bold 9780

On top of the Bold 9780 are two buttons that looks like they're touch sensitive, but actually the entire top of the handset can be depressed. On one side is the lock/unlock key, while the other is a mute button. Bizarrely, you can't use this to simply mute the ringer from the Home screen – it only mutes music playback and similar noise.

BlackBerry bold 9780

Oh, and don't worry, BlackBerry's usual little red light is at the top-right of the phone's front fascia.