The BlackBerry vs. iPhone battle continues, this time with RIM’s new entry into the ring: the BlackBerry 9000, aka the BlackBerry Bold.
The first improvement of note is that the new 9000 series of BlackBerries looks to have all the disparate features of the various devices in the 8000 series (BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Pearl, etc.) – WiFi, GPS, digital camera, video capture – into one package. Now you don’t have to decide between features, giving up one in favor of another; you can get them all in a single device – and that’s a real improvement.
Connectivity is another major improvement in the BlackBerry Bold, as it’s a 3G smartphone (something Apple hasn’t even delivered on…yet). Storage space on the Bold is bigger and bolder too, now at 1 GB, and now the memory card slot is external (on the outside of the device) rather than internal (in the battery compartment). There’s still the standard ear bud compatible 3.5 mm stereo jack, and the Bold’s speakers are loud and clear.
The BlackBerry Bold further improves upon earlier BlackBerry models with a speedier processor and a half-VGA display with a higher resolution (480 x 320, as compared with the former model’s 320 x 240). The sharper contrast of the display makes text much easier to read than ever before on a BlackBerry. The OS that the Bold comes bundled with, BlackBerry OS 4.6, is also improved, with animated icons in the menu and a newer, better web browser that renders web pages like they would appear on your regular PC or laptop.
Now, it is claimed that the outer casing is produced of a lower-grade plastic than that of earlier BlackBerry models, possibly to help control the price of a more feature-filled product, but it opens up the possibility of turning off a portion of prospective buyers as feeling too cheap and shabby to last. Surely BlackBerry has made sure that the device is as sturdy, solid, and durable as other comparable smartphones, but in the marketplace perception is everything, and some people just may not like the new look and feel. Clearly it’s a risk RIM is willing to take.
For people still interested in the newest BlackBerry, patience may be highly rewarded, as according to the rumor mill, RIM may have a touch screen version of the Bold already in the works. The Wall Street Journal projects this will see light of day in the 3rd quarter of this year.
In partnership with Rogers Wireless (meaning Canadians get first dibs at this device), RIM last week announced the release of a new BlackBerry Curve. This long-awaited successor to the benchmark-setting smartphone (which this reviewer personally owns, incidentally) is also known as the BlackBerry 8900, and it appears to be a smart improvement on a winning smartphone design.
The BlackBerry Curve 8900 sports the thinnest casing of any BlackBerry yet, and the lightest – weighing in at only 110 grams. It’s got a 2.4” hi-res 480 x 360 pixel, HVGA+ light-sensitive display, and a powerful 512 MHz processor.
The 8900’s 3.2 megapixel camera comes with built-in flash, auto-focus, image stabilization, video recording, and photo geotagging capabilities. The 8900’s more-versatile media player that includes streaming audio and video support.
Like its predecessor it has a full QWERTY keyboard, with support for quad-band EDGE, and a built-in GPS (w/TeleNav GPS Navigaotr and BlackBerry Maps support). Unlike its predecessor, however, the new Curve also has built-in WiFi.
And staying true to its reputation as the preeminent electronic organizer (sorry, Palm) the newest BlackBerry retains (and in some cases even improves upon) its expansive email, organizer, and web-browsing capabilities. Expanded messaging capabilities include built-in support for:
• BlackBerry Messenger
• Windows Live Messenger
• Yahoo! Messenger
Even phoning features have improved, with enhanced background noise cancelling, low-distortion speakerphone, and voice-activated dialing features.
The BlackBerry 8900 also supports:
• Facebook for BlackBerry
• DataViz Documents to Go – for editing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint docs
• BlackBerry Media Sync – for syncing your Curve up with your iTunes music library
• BlackBerry Internet Service – allowing access for up to 10 users (both personal and corporate accounts)
• BlackBerry Enterprise Server
The new Curve’s removable and rechargeable battery provides around 5 1/2 hours of talk time and about 15 days worth of standby time.
Now for a couple of cons to the new Curve, beginning with its lack of 3G support (unlike the new BlackBerry Bold and BlackBbery Storm). Also, it only comes with a measley 256 MB of on-board memory, though it does have a microSD card slot capable of up to 16 GB of expansion memory.
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