Research In Motion (RIM) once wore the crown as the king of smartphones with the BlackBerry. With the rise of the iPhone and Android, the company has slowly lost its share in the smartphone market and has been on quite the downward spiral. After a bit of silence, RIM unveiled follow ups to their BlackBerry line up, one of which was the BlackBerry Bold 9930. Not straying too far from its predecessor, yet offering a more updated appearance and features, the Bold 9930 hopes to help RIM retake the crown and the coveted title that it once held.
Design and Display (5 out of 5)
At first glance, the BlackBerry Bold 9930 looks like its predecessors. Like the name suggests, it has a bold design, opting to go larger than other smartphones on the market, with a full portrait oriented QWERTY keyboard dominating the front and a smaller 2.7 inch display covering the top. It has the same wide body that the Bold series is known for, but at the same time, it has a different feel to it. The Bold 9930 looks slimmer, more luxurious and overall, it just looks slick.
The Bold 9930 sports a stainless steel bezel that surrounds the phone and the back is still somewhat of a soft touch finish, it also has somewhat of a carbon-fiber like design. Surrounding the Bold 9930 are the microUSB port, 3.5 mm headphone jack, volume rocker, mute key, and camera button. Below the display there are four capacitive shortcuts for dial, menu, back and power, with an optical trackpad smack in the middle. The touch screen is also the first capacitive touch screen for the Bold series. For long time BlackBerry users, the Bold 9930 is a classy step up, while still retaining the iconic form factor of the original.
Performance (4 out of 5)
The Bold 9930 has a single core 1.2 GHz processor powering the device. While there are current smartphones that have dual cores powering them, a 1.2 GHz processor is enough to keep the Bold 9930 running fairly smoothly. There are occasional bouts of lag, but overall the operating system feels smooth on the Bold 9930. The trackpad and touch screen are reponsive to touch, sometimes a bit too responsive, but the new OS, BlackBerry OS 7 responds as it should.
The call quality on the Bold 9930 was also superb, whether it was due to the smartphone itself or Verizon's network is up in the air. Incoming and outgoing calls were clear with liitle distortion and no real echo affecting the call. The data speeds on the Bold 9930 weren't disappointing by any means, but they're not the best, mainly due to the fact that it's a 3G smartphone and is not 4G LTE enabled. It is a bit disappointing to see the Bold 9930 stay in the 3G space.
User Interface (3 out of 5)
The Bold 9930 comes preloaded with BlackBerry OS 7, which sounds like a major update from OS 6, but in reality, it's just more of a minor transition. There aren't any giant changes from OS 6, and in all honesty, the operating system does seem a bit outdated compared to the new iOS or Android operating systems. It's not hard to learn or master, but it doesn't feel as new as other operating systems.
The keyboard, however, is fantastic. It's almost as if the previous generation of BlackBerry smartphones were building to this particular keyboard. It's got just the right amount of feedback, tilt, and responsiveness that is overall very impressive. The keys are also spaced apart well, which is surprising for a portrait oriented keyboard.
Trying to interact with the capacitive display does get somewhat annoying at times due to the cramped screen. The responsiveness is great but 2.7 inches is not a lot to work with when trying to navigate by touch. It's like trying to utilize the Palm Pixi's display, which also suffered due to the small size of the screen. The trackpad does help alleviate a bit of the stress but overall, it does feel very cramped when trying to use the display as a touch screen.
Features (2 out of 5)
The Bold 9930 comes with a 5 megapixel camera capable of recording in 720p, which is slightly
disappointing. Like the Torch 9850, the 5 megapixel camera isn't impressive compared to the current releases in the smartphone market. The current dual core powered smartphones and the latest iPhone feature better cameras, and in addition offer front facing cameras for video chatting. The Bold 9930 seems archaic when compared to the current generation of smartphones, which is not a good thing.
To make up for the lack of 4G, the Bold 9930 works as a world phone, able to connect to CDMA networks in the U.S. and GSM network internationally. While this is a nice addition, it really isn't an innovative or unique addition anymore. Smartphone manufacturers are becoming wiser and making some of their more powerful smartphones world phones, while installing Android on top.
The Final Verdict (3 out of 5)
Overall, disappointingly, the Bold 9930 ranks in as an 'Average' smartphone. RIM has done a great job building up anticipation for the next generation of BlackBerries and the Bold 9930 started off strong with its absolutely stunning design, but slowly began faltering as the rest of the specs were examined. RIM is not the dominant force it once was, and while the Bold 9930 was an okay attempt at trying to get back the crown, it really isn't enough. RIM have their backs to the wall and its really time to come out swinging, and unfortunately the Bold 9930 is not a home run.
- Source: Author’s experience.
- Image Credit: RIM Blackberry, http://us.blackberry.com/smartphones/blackberry-bold-9900-9930/