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BlackBerry Bold 9700 (BlackBerry Bold2)
The second BlackBerry handset to be announced this month from RIM is the BlackBerry Bold 9700, which seems destined to replace the BlackBerry Bold 9000.
As with the Storm2 announced a couple of days ago, the 9700 (or perhaps the "BlackBerry Bold2") is a pretty marginal upgrade of an existing handset.. or in this case, it is basically just a combination of the 9000, 8900 and 8520 with the latest version of the BlackBerry OS on top.
The primary differences between the Bold 9700 and the 9000 are the inclusion of BlackBerry OS 5, a 3.2 megapixel camera (instead of a 2 megapixel one) and a small touchpad to replace the rollerball on the 9000. The 9700 is quite a bit smaller and lighter than its predecessor, and it looks more like the 8520 than the 9000 overall. The smaller size is at the expense of the display, now a 2.44" panel instead of the 2.6" one on the previous phone, although the 9700 retains the same 480 x 360 pixel resolution.
Other features include 3.5G support, WiFi and GPS, a good quality media player, a 3.5mm audio socket and microSD expandable memory (with 2GB in the standard sales package). The camera has autofocus, a flash and supports geo-tagging. The maximum video recording resolution is 480 x 352 pixels which is OK to play back on the 9700's screen, but not as good as the 640 x 480 pixels that many rivals offer.
The Bold 9700's WiFi implementation supports UMA, which means it can be used as a VOIP (Voice Over IP) device, allowing cheap phone calls if you have a suitable UMA set-up at home or in your office.
The latest version of the BlackBerry OS includes a slightly refreshed interface and there are the usual bunch of applications to go with it, including the excellent email support that you would expect from a BlackBerry. More applications can be downloaded from the BlackBerry App World store if your administrator hasn't locked it down.
The big 1500 mAh battery gives up to 5 hours talktime and 15 days standby time on 3G, which is certainly good enough for most business users. A bit more life can be squeezed out of the battery by switching to GSM, but really nobody bothers much with that these days.
There are two different UMTS variants of the Bold 9700, one with quad-band 800 / 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz support, the other with 900 / 1700 / 2100 MHz support. This means that the Bold 9700 can be sold on pretty much any of the diverse UMTS networks worldwide, which is handy.
RIM say that the BlackBerry Bold 9700 should be available on various carriers worldwide from November onwards, and our photographs show T-Mobile USA branding so at least we know that it is going Stateside.
It's not a bad phone when everything is taken into account, and it basically has everything that most users will need from a messaging device.. but it is just a little disappointing. Recently RIM have just been tweaking old products which we think is a dangerous strategy. Can RIM come up with something amazing by the end of the year? Given their current performance, we think not.. but we can always hope!
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