BlackBerry Bold 9900 review

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

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RIM knows that media is a big selling point and that to challenge the prominence of the iPhone (which is itself trying to encroach on RIM territory), it has to get this right.

With the BB lines being targeted at media-savvy youngsters, it's good to know that RIM hasn't completely ignored this category and what we have is a perfectly respectable media experience. It's pretty much the same as the previous model, but it does just work.

Syncing with the official software even lets you get your iTunes playlists across with full recognition of names in the right places (Android users will be familiar with this pain) and copy across all non-DRM protected purchases. Syncing music is fairly speedy over USB.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

But if you plan on syncing video, make sure you do it overnight, because even copying a five-minute piece took a good half an hour due to the fact it was doing some kind of optimisation. Not good if you're in a hurry and also not good because you can't use your phone for anything else while the 9900 is plugged into the computer.

Memory wise, you have 8GB plus a maximum of 32GB memory card option, which beats the top iPhone model (for now) and there's no reason that this can't take the place of an iPod.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

We love how you can not only create playlists on the phone, but also create automatic playlists based on particular criteria or algorithms. That and the fact that album art transfers perfectly and looks great on the Bold 9900's amazing screen is a real feather in its cap.

Sound quality is brilliant through headphones and we had high hopes for the on-board speaker, remembering how fantastic music sounded on our original Bold 9000.

Although it was loud, the bass got a little bit too carried away with itself on certain songs (Adele's 'Rolling In The Deep' really suffered) and made them sound terrible. But there was also something else we noticed.

Now, we promise you we haven't had a drink. Nor have we taken a knock to the head. But when we listened to certain songs, we actually heard bits of them we'd never heard before. It may sound odd, but it's true.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

For example, 'Bright Lights Big City' by Cee Lo Green begins with quite a large orchestral piece. We've played that song hundreds of times through an iPhone and a home stereo, but only when listening to it on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 did we notice some of the strings and layers we'd never clocked before.

Whether it's the way the music is processed or recorded or whether it's just down to the equaliser is anybody's guess, but it sounded amazing and we were sold.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

Watching video back is a pleasure too. The blacks are black, whites are white and again the audio is very well represented. In fact, when you get your videos on here, the only reason you would choose not to watch them would be because of the screen size.

However, making the screen bigger would change the form factor and alter the phone from what it is meant to be, so the company has done its best with what it's got and the result looks good and works well.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

We tried all the major formats and didn't manage to throw the Bold 9900 off course. We doubt you'll be watching full movies on it, though. For a quick burst of YouTube or short clips, the Bold 9900 does a champion job.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

Speaking of YouTube, if you're a fan, you'll be pleased to know there's a YouTube icon on board. Then you'll probably be dismayed that still it is merely a link to the YouTube mobile site and not a fully functioning app.

BlackBerry bold 9900 review

There is no FM radio either. Not that there ever has been on a BlackBerry, but lots of people do like to listen to the radio on their phones. In the end, we downloaded the TuneIn Radio app and streamed stations instead - but RIM needs to add this feature in as a large number of people like to use it, in our experience.