BlackBerry Bold 9700 Review

Although the Bold 9700 lacks the frills of an iPhone or Palm Pre, for utilitarian business users, it’s one of the most polished smartphones on the market today.
Although the Bold 9700 lacks the frills of an iPhone or Palm Pre, for utilitarian business users, it’s one of the most polished smartphones on the market today.
Although the Bold 9700 lacks the frills of an iPhone or Palm Pre, for utilitarian business users, it’s one of the most polished smartphones on the market today.


  • Optical trackpad
  • Solid build quality
  • Landline-like voice quality
  • Tack-sharp screen
  • Longest battery life of all BlackBerrys


  • Keyboard potentially too small for larger fingers
  • Slow browser
BlackBerry Bold 9700


It might have been called the Bold Mini had it been born in Cupertino, but those logical Canucks at RIM stuck to numbers. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 takes the stylistic cues and capabilities of its flagship Bold 9000, and scales them down to a more pocket-friendly form factor. The result: BlackBerry bliss.

Design and Build Quality

The Bold 9700 and one of BlackBerry’s most petite handsets, the Curve 8900, look and feel practically as if they were stamped from the same die. Both measure exactly 4.29 inches tall and 2.36 inches wide, with the Bold packing just a smidge of extra flab on the belly for a thickness of 0.56 inches and weight of 4.3 ounces with battery. Make no mistake: the extra decimals can’t do much to diminish the superbly pocketable size and weight of the new Bold, which sidles up right next to the very similar Curve 8900 as one of the most portable smartphones we’ve ever tested.

BlackBerry Bold 9700 and Curve 8900

True to the styling of the original Bold, the 9700 comes trimmed with a hefty dose of chrome, with a broad swoop on the chin, thin rails of it running up the sides, and another thick stripe on the top back. Fortunately, none of the panels are quite thick enough show fingerprints, and the rubbery black plastic used on other parts of the case repels them nicely. The full leather-wrapped back that made a splash on the original Bold has been toned down into a more modest patch of black leather on the battery door, but it still makes the same executive fashion statement. The solid feel of the phone helps complement that overall aura of quality, too.

Specifications and Features

Form factor aside, the hard specs on the Bold 9700 very much resemble its predecessor. You get full 3G Internet (a much-needed feature that scared many would-be buyers away from the Curve 8900), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, and GPS. Like the Curve, it also uses a brilliant half-VGA (480 x 360 pixel) display and 3.2-megapixel camera – an upgrade from the 2.0-megapixel model on the original Bold. Out of the box, the Bold comes stacked with only 256MB of internal memory, but RIM includes a 2GB microSD card in the built-in expansion slot. The slot, which is behind the battery door, can smartly be accessed without removing the actual battery, and accommodates cards up to a whopping 32GB (although at the time of publication, cards in that capacity haven’t yet reached commercial availability).

Connections and Layout

Like almost all BlackBerrys, the Bold 9700 places the screen and QWERTY keyboard front and center, with a strip of the most commonly used controls (talk, end call, back, etc.) dividing the two, easily accessible with a thumb. On the right-hand side, a bubbled-out volume rocker and camera shutter button make it easy to access those dedicated functions. On the left, it offers a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB charging and data connection, and programmable shortcut key.

Goodbye, Trackball

BlackBerrys have always been known for their trackballs, but the Bold 9700 follows the divergent path of more recent BlackBerrys like the Curve 8520 by switching to an optical trackpad. Swipe your finger over the gem-shaped button center button and it acts just like the trackpad on a laptop computer. While BlackBerry fans might initially miss the grind of that tacky little ball, they won’t miss the reliability issues that always seemed to come from it collecting lint. We quickly acclimated to the new style, happily trading in the tactile feedback of the old trackball for a slicker, quieter solution.

BlackBerry Bold 9700


The keyboard on the new Bold may seem like the most obvious casualty of the shrink ray, but the smaller size might not be as unpalatable as you suspect. Although a step down from the oversized Bold 9000, the new keyboard offers all the crisp feedback BlackBerrys are known for, all in a build that feels tighter, more refined and quieter than the already-admirable Curve. BlackBerry knows keyboards, and we’re convinced this is just about the finest QWERTY you can fold into a space this size, even if it is bordering on too small.


We loved the 3.2-megapixel camera on the Curve 8900, and this identical model planted in the Bold 9700 is no different. It autofocuses with a quick half-press of the center button and snaps sharp, focused pictures with reasonable color a second later. The LED flash even musters workable snapshots in the dark, although you can expect a healthy dose of typical low-light noise to go along with it. Unfortunately, the tiny 2.44-inch screen doesn’t quite make the greatest viewfinder, and it exhibits significant latency as you move the camera around.

Battery Life

Despite the smaller size of the phone, RIM has kept battery capacity at 1500 mAhr for the new Bold, but rated it for 6 hours of talk time and 21 days of standby – significantly more than the 4.5 hours of talk and 13.5 days of standby that the first model claims. In fact, it now claims better battery life than any other modern BlackBerry.

BlackBerry Bold 9700


The display on the Bold 9700 matches the Curve 8900 exactly for brightness, resolution and color, which is to say, it’s amazing. Granted, at 2.44 inches across, it won’t run beside full touchscreen phones, but half-VGA brightness crammed into such a tiny area produces a tack-sharp display that makes even the tiniest text and details look crisp. A powerful backlight produces all the punch you need to read under all conditions, without washing out the deep blacks and vibrant colors.

Product Review

The all-new Palm wants to be many things, but it’s really just a tiny smartphone

The all-new Palm is here, and it’s tinier than ever. Exclusive to Verizon, it syncs to your primary smartphone and acts as a secondary device -- with features to help you disconnect from technology. But at $350, is it worth the high price…

Mate 20 range now includes new 20 X model with huge 7.2-inch display

Huawei has released the Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, and Mate 20 X. With all new Kirin processors, advanced A.I. brains, and an amazing triple camera, here's absolutely everything you need to know about the new Mate 20 series.
Product Review

Samsung’s vibrant Galaxy A9 hits the mark with quad camera, misses on the price

Samsung’s new 2018 Galaxy S9 smartphone is a contender in the midrange smartphone world, due to a very special quad-cam setup on the back. It’s made for Instagram fans who want Galaxy S-style features and design, without the big price…

Razer Phone 2 vs. Razer Phone: Is it time to level up?

Razer surprised us with a gaming phone last year, but now it's back with a new, improved version. We take a look at the differences between the Razer Phone 2 and the original Razer Phone to find out exactly what has changed.

Montblanc’s $995 Summit 2 watch stays on your wrist for longer between charges

Montblanc has taken the wraps off of the new Montblanc Summit 2 -- the first watch to feature the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor. The watch features a premium design and Google's Wear OS.

Preapproval for iPhone Upgrade Program now available for iPhone XR

Apple took the wraps off of its new set of iPhones, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the new iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is being offered as the "affordable" iPhone, and it's a little different than the more expensive models.
Product Review

The Huawei Watch GT’s battery life gets a tick, but the software may not tock

Huawei’s track record with smartwatches is strong, having releases two models and several spin-offs to general acclaim. This is the Watch GT, and it moves away from Google’s Wear OS to focus on fitness, yet stays ahead of the…

Double your charging speed with Nomad’s Tesla Model 3 wireless charger

Nomad's wireless charger for the Tesla Model 3 fits the EV's charging dock exactly. If you plug both of the Nomad's into the Model 3's two front USB ports you can charge two smartphones quickly or one phone twice as fast.

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Product Review

If Huawei sells the Mate 20 Pro in the U.S., Samsung needs to watch its back

Huawei knocked it out of the park with the P20 Pro earlier this year, and it’s looking to do the same again with the Mate 20 Pro. The Mate series has traditionally been sold in the U.S., so will Americans finally be able to get a taste?
Product Review

You’d be crazy to dismiss the Huawei Mate 20 as an amateur

Traditionally, Huawei’s Mate series of phones has been a little staid. That started to change with the Mate 10 Pro, and now both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro have come along to turn our heads. Here’s a look at the standard Mate 20.

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next phone, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.