BlackBerry bold 9900 review: front view

You may have noticed that we have spent a lot of this review moaning about certain aspects of the Bold 9900, but it's hard to completely chastise this phone, because what it does well, it does extremely well. It's just that certain parts feel like they have been completely forgotten about.

It's almost as though RIM has concentrated on a few features and thought the rest would take care of themselves. Luckily for it, most of the people who buy this handset will be doing so because they want the Bold 9900 for a specific reason.

And we suspect that they will be corporate types who want unchallenged email capabilities and security. The fact that they can boast of having the slimmest Blackberry ever may also help - but it needs more than that to be a real iPhone rival.

We liked

The Bold 9900 looks very cool and BlackBerry is a secure system that has proven to be useful and effective.

The screen borders on the magical, striking the perfect mix between stylish and functional. It's nice to have a touchscreen – even if we did forget it was there – and shooting in HD is a good addition. Plus, you know that in the majority of cases that what you're getting here will just work and work well. RIM has taken a proven formula and built on it.

We disliked

We were not enamoured by the browser, which still needs a little tweaking to make it really industry-leading. That's annoying, because we find we use our phones for surfing more than calling these days - although it's by far the best iteration RIM has ever popped on a BlackBerry

Battery life was adequate but not earth shattering, and we were disappointed that the camera still is only 5MP. What is this? 2009?

The interface isn't that much of an update either, and still needs something more to make it class leading. It feels like we're getting a stop-gap OS until the real power of QNX is realised, so let's just hope that RIM is still at the sharper end of the smartphone market when that opportunity rolls around.

Verdict

It's hard not to recommend the Bold 9900, because here we have a fantastic piece of kit that we can confidently describe as RIM's best BlackBerry to date. That's saying something, because the manufacturer has pumped out some cracking handsets over the years.

Yes, we're dismayed by the lack of a decent camera and slightly disappointed about the web browsing experience, but all of this is irrelevant if you're just buying this as a messaging device, which many people will. And if email is your bag, you can't do any better.

If you want this as a media player, it's definitely adequate and performs well - but given the smaller screen size, it's only really going to be used for music over video.

The Bold 9900 is certainly bold in its ambition. It may fail in some places, but in the most part, it really impresses. We can see this one shipping by the bucketload, especially compared to the keyboard-less Torch 9860, as it ticks all the normal boxes and adds in a premium chassis to boot.

Thanks to Expansys for our BlackBerry Bold 9900 review handset.