When the usually quiet labs up at Canada’s Research in Motion creak open their doors and slip out a new BlackBerry model, people pay attention. From suit-clad politicians and corporate CEOs, to celebrities and ultra-connected teenagers, the brand has grown a cult-like following for its workhorse productivity phones, and new models never fail to make waves among the faithful.
Its latest model, the BlackBerry Bold, also known as the BlackBerry 9000, has been no exception. Besides further refining BlackBerry’s almost-iconic packaging and style, the Bold is the first ever BlackBerry to offer HSDPA (3G) Internet, finally giving BlackBerry fans a more robust surfing experience to accompany the full-featured e-mail service they’ve held dear for years.
From the outside, the Bold is unmistakably a BlackBerry. Not known for experimenting with new and unknown form factors or trying to woo customers with novel styles, RIM predictably stuck with its utilitarian block-like design for the Bold. However, the company did add a swath of metal trim that rings the entire phone, a style cue almost certainly taken from its main competitor, the iPhone.
Image Courtesy of RIM
RIM claims the new screen it has used for the Bold, a quarter-VGA model of similar size to previous BlackBerrys’, is the most vivid display it has ever used, giving the phone its “Bold” moniker. While we can’t vouch for its contrast and brightness (yet), the 480 x 320 resolution gives it literally twice the pixel-count of the BlackBerry Curve, in a similar-size area, ensuring it should be much sharper.
Both tri-band HSDPA Internet access and 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi give the Bold broader connectivity options than all previous BlackBerrys. To make full use of all that potential, it also includes a desktop-style browser to give users the option of viewing pages in all their full HTML splendor, or in optimized mobile versions. The scroll wheel even works as a mouse, making interacting with Web sites similar to using an ordinary computer.
Although it’s not the first BlackBerry to do so, the Bold will also boast full GPS capability, allowing it to double as a navigator alongside all its other functions. This, coupled with its coveted 3G capabilities, will lend it at least two critical strengths in its impending fight with the iPhone, which lacks both.
For execs who still manage to find a little “me time” for entertainment, the Bold includes a handful of options for that as well. The phone’s enhanced media player supports audio, video and slideshows, and an integrated 2-megapixel camera with 5x zoom can capture video and high-quality stills. And while it will only provide 1GB of internal storage, support for microSDHC cards means up to 16GB could be added in the future when cards of that capacity debut.
Still a BlackBerry at its core, the phone’s phone and messaging capabilities closely mirror previous versions, including the ever-popular push e-mail, and options like voice-activated dialing, Bluetooth 2.0 support, and noise cancellation.
While RIM has revealed that the BlackBerry Bold will be debuting on AT&T this summer, it has largely kept mum on pricing, placing fan boys and girls in the dark for now. Rumors place the price between $300 and $500, which, besides being a very wide margin that’s difficult to miss, would also place the Bold in line with previous BlackBerry releases. More information can be found at RIM’s Web site.