For years, nothing could compare to BlackBerry battery life. The phones truly were the proverbial workhorses, able to last for days and days. In fact, aside from the legendary Nokia 6310, many would say BlackBerry battery life was unmatched.
Sadly, that's changed over recent years as the colour screens, cameras and other signs of the 21st century have arrived on Planet RIM. They're still good for a day or so, though, which is more than can be said about certain Android handsets. That's not bad, but it's not amazing either.
We're still sad to see that the Bold 9900 only comes with a 1230mAh battery. That's less than the 1300mAh of the Torch 9800 and significantly smaller than the 1500mAh which came with the original Bold 9000.
RIM may argue that OS7 is more battery-friendly, but let's not forget that this handset is also packing a 1.2GHz processor and that's bound to have an effect on battery life.
We don't understand what RIM was thinking. Yes, this may be the slimmest BlackBerry ever, but is that because they have scrimped on battery size? And if so, is that the right approach for a flagship handset that's evidently aimed at the power user?
In reality, our battery got us through a day with moderately heavy use. Namely, it was taken off charge at 6:30am and since that point we got a few emails pinging in, 26 messages sent (between text and email), about half a dozen photos and videos shot, music was played on a 45 minute journey via headphones, we made 30 mins worth of calls and did about half an hour's (painful) web browsing over 3G and Wi-Fi. By 11pm, it was down to 10%.
That's fairly respectable but if you have a really heavy day, you may need to keep a portable charger with you. Luckily, like so many handsets these days, the Bold 9900 charges over micro USB and with cables cheap as chips, it's no great hardship to keep one in your bag or work drawer to connect the phone to your computer to charge over USB.
Connectivity-wise, we have the usual suspects: HSDPA 3G and HSUPA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. Bluetooth is not just reserved for calls but also streamed music wirelessly to our stereo via A2DP which we were very happy with.
The Wi-Fi signal was strong and we had no problems with the speeds of our T-Mobile 3G signal, although we did have page loading delays which we mentioned earlier.
Of course, the big plus here is NFC. Near field communication is to phone operators now what integrated GPS was back in 2007. All of the manufacturers are talking about it and telling us it's the future, yet BlackBerry is one of the first to bring it to market, which you really have to commend them for. In theory, the technology will let you use your phone to pay for goods by touching them against a sensor.
We tried it years ago when O2 were trialling it using an older Nokia handset and it allowed us to use our phone as an Oyster pass (for those outside London, it's what is used to navigate the tube network.) We could definitely see the potential.
In practice, it's not that much use yet, because nobody's really using it. It's nice to have and we are sure some retailers will use it as a selling point, but aside from bragging to friends you have an NFC mobile, we're slightly unsure what good it is. You may also look like a wally when said friends challenge you to show what it can do.