RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700
BlackBerry OS 5.0, 2.4in 480x360 display
The latest BlackBerry Bold doesn't look much different to previous models, with its full QWERTY keypad and leather back. Under the hood, however, it has a faster processor is lighter as well as smaller in every dimension. The screen's resolution has gone up too, and with 480x360 packed into only 2.4in of space, text and images are really clear and sharp.
Like the Blackberry Curve 8520, the new Bold has an optical trackpad which we found responsive, and which is less prone to mechanical failure than the rollerball it replaces. While the keypad may be narrower than before, it's just as usable, with moulded keys that have excellent feedback.
The interface has changed too: rather than a full screen of icons, the first thing you see now is a pretty background, with a single row of icons at the bottom of the screen. Pressing the BlackBerry button now shows the full application list, as well as acting as the menu key once in an application.
BlackBerry's strength has also been its email, but now most other smartphones come with push email and decent virtual keyboards. Account creation and setup can be a nightmare as well, depending on how your carrier or IT department has set the phone up. Although the phone comes bundled with office viewers and some decent business tools, Blackberry's App World still lags behind the likes of the Android Market and Apple App Store.
In the revised interface, we found it took a while to get to know the icons, which aren't as distinguishable as they used to be. You can group applications into folders, or drag them into the top row so they appear on the home screen, but this still means you're limited to having only six applications readily available, unlike an Android phone or iPhone. Delving into the Options screen is still a nightmare of text menus, however, and is probably best left to your carrier or IT department.
As expected, the Bold 9700's battery lasted far longer than most other phones. As well as push email, there are security features that will please IT departments, so if your company runs a BlackBerry server it would be a good choice. The small screen won't appeal to those who want to take a lot of photos or movies, however, and BlackBerry's App World doesn't have the variety of competing app stores.