When the second in the BlackBerry Bold series, the Bold 9700 had made its debut, it won over most BlackBerry users with its peppy processor, brilliant screen, excellent keyboard and trackpad. However, in the BlackBerry Bold 9780 (Bold 3), RIM has retained most of the features of its predecessors, and added a few perks which include a better OS, more RAM and an excellent camera. With all this packed in, is the BlackBerry Bold 9780 going to be your boardroom weapon of choice?
Switching on this BlackBerry is way too reminiscent of waiting for your aged PC to boot up. A slim progress bar is displayed on the screen, and it takes a good few minutes for the phone to start up. Even aged business phones like the Nokia E63 take lesser time to boot up.
The look and feel is typically BlackBerry – solid, sturdy body that almost feels chunky in your hands, exuding its ‘executive smartphone’ aura despite BB trying hard to break away from that image.
The design is unfailingly similar to its predecessor, the BlackBerry 9700. You have the same buttons on top, however on this version they aren’t touch sensitive, but clickable – nonetheless they are quite convenient to use. The one on right is a mute button to silence a call or that annoying alarm every morning and the one on left is meant to lock/unlock the smartphone.
One observation was that while using the contoured buttons on the left bezel to adjust the volume, either in the middle of watching a video or during a call, there was distortion on the screen space right next to the controls. The body has two customisable convenience keys on either side. Ours was programmed to be Voice Commands and Camera.
As part of sprucing up the user interface, the BlackBerry OS 6 has now added two customisable bars to the homescreen. The broad notification bar at the top is now demarcated into two; the top letting you access network and connectivity settings and the bottom indicating the profile you’ve chosen on the left, notifications in the middle and a quick search option on the right.
One niggle with this new interface is that when you decide to call a number and start typing the digits, it automatically reads only the alphabets or the keys you typed and does an in-menu search.
The search function itself is pretty quick and accurate but we don’t know why this should be the default function the moment you start typing something when there’s already a Quick Search icon on the home screen itself.
A long press of the BlackBerry button continues to prop up the application switch screen but it looks much slicker than it did on the BlackBerry OS 5.
With the new OS you have an integrated Messages folder apart from one exclusively for texts. This folder can hold your IMs, BlackBerry messages as well as text messages.
The Browser on the Bold 9780 is a new WebKit browser which is a definite improvement on the older web apps on BlackBerry devices.
The translucent bar at the bottom that housed icons like Contacts, Messaging, Calendar etc is now designed to display a different bunch of icons as you swipe through Favourites, Media, Downloads, Frequent and the last one propping up all the apps available in the handset.
The optical trackpad is smooth as ice and the tiny, sweeping keys are really comfortable for frequent use. However, the trackpad too is a little more sensitive than it was on the Bold 9700 and it’s easy to overshoot the icon you would want to scroll up or down to.
When you launch the Camera app, five small icons at the bottom of the screen offer you the choice to glance at the pics you have already taken, you can adjust the Flash setting and change from one shooting preset to another. You can even turn on the GPS feature from this panel and the smartphone will begin to detect your geographical location so you can ‘geotag’ your pictures later.
A notch above its predecessor, the Bold 9780 has a 5-meg camera (Bold 9700 had a 3.2-meg clicker) with close to 10 different pre-structured modes to choose from. We took action shots of kids playing in a room and some portraits in low-light and both came out pretty well.
Video recording however is restricted to standard definition video on this handset. This is a bit of a bummer because even relatively low-end handsets in the market offer 720p recording these days.
A lot of smartphones just about last a working day with your regular amount of voice calls, but the BlackBerry Bold 9700 had a long-lasting battery and this has evidently been carried over to the Bold 9780. We used it for about 2 days with very high talktime usage.
If you already have a BlackBerry and want to upgrade you handset, then the Bold 9780 is definitely a decent option. But for those who already have a Bold 9700, it might help to keep in mind that the ‘enhanced experience’ offered is just a notch better.
Love – Great camera, comfortable keypad
Hate – Limited upgrades, boot-up time
Keywords: BlackBerry Bold