Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Almost 6 months later....my updated thoughts on the BlackBerry Bold 9900

Well it's been almost 6 months since I first started using the BlackBerry Bold 9900, and it is timely to give an update on my thoughts of the device.

I thought the best way would be to do a then and now comparison, as follows.

"One of my favourite devices, size wise, especially keyboard, was the first Bold.....the 9000. and I was one of the many BlackBerry users shattered when RIM introduced the successor to the 9000, the 9700, and, for me, its cramped keyboard. That said, we are a adaptable bunch, for it wasn't long before we were all rocking the 9700 and thumbing out emails, tweets, posts and the like from its keyboard.

So I move onto the Torch 9800 and then the Bold 9780......and now the Bold 9900. And it took me all of about 2 minutes to re-accquaint back with the larger keyboard....welcome home!  And loving it! And while we are on the keyboard etc, I really do like the highlighted surrounding of the trackpad......rather cool."

6 months on, the keyboard of the 9900 remains my firm favourite of all BlackBerry devices & variations. To say it is comfortable is an understatement, and provides a compelling argument for physical keyboards in Smart Phones. I do hope RIM keep a physical keyboard within the range of BB10 devices.

"The Bold 9900 is of course hefty but oh so slim (for a BlackBerry) and feels great cradled between my hands, or in one hand......but, and yes I understand the NFC requirements, but a smooth back plate??? Hmmm, not too happy about this, and already I have caught my Bold twice as it slid off a couple of places (where normally a BlackBerry would not). Unfortunately for me, I prefer my BlackBerry devices to be naked, so a skin is not the answer. Need to be a little more careful though."

I have now successfully (or is that unsuccessfully) dropped the 9900 3 times, and no traction from the smooth battery cover is clearly the culprit. Luckily, no real damage apart from the odd bodywork scratch.

"OS7: well yes, it is an evolution of the BlackBerry OS and a nice one. Anyone coming from OS6 will immediately feel at home. I like the icons and colours. I also like the way you can manage the panels (yay.....now only have one panel: All)."

OS7.1: while not that different to OS7.0 it definitely is much more stable & reliable. Previously I have had not much joy with OS 7.0 with the Bold 9900 bricking more than 30 times (bricking is a generic term, meaning rendering the device unusable, whether stuck in a constant reboot cycle, or one of those nasty little JVM errors). Now with OS 7.1 the bricking has seemingly ceased to exist for me. *a deep sigh of relief*

"The higher spec single core processor was both urgently needed but gratefully received. There is significantly less hour glassing than ever before, and things do seem to move around much more fluidly. Yep, happy with this. The increased RAM is also appreciated. Boot time has been reduced further....nice (not that you have to reboot the 9900 as often as previous devices, but good to know, nevertheless)."

No change here (although I do think the boot time with OS7.1 has been reduced compared to OS7.0), and this all still rings true.

"Touchscreen: I wondered whether this for me would be a redundant feature, and pleased to say I was wrong. The touch screen for me is very useful to hunt around for the needed application & to click on it to open, something easily achieved while holding the 9900 in one hand (and there are lots of times you only have one hand to operate your BlackBerry with)."

My second device being used simultaneously to the Bold 9900, is a Torch 9810. Both devices' OS makes full use of the touch screens, and a big boon for me is the holding of pressure on the touch screen over an icon, to open up a quick menu panel: brilliant. Both devices aren't entirely perfect for one handed operation (Bold 9900 is very broad & reach with just one thumb is a little hard at times (but brilliant for thumbing out messages with both thumbs, accurately and very quickly), and the Torch 9810 is just a little top heavy (slider extended). I am currently waiting for a Bold 9790, as I believe this BlackBerry will be as close to perfect for one handed operations.

"Battery Life: in one word; hopeless. Sorry, but I cannot get through 2/3 of a day without running out of juice. Screen brightness is set to 10%, most apps set to either not auto-refresh, or set at a longer refresh interval, WiFi switched off (don't really use it too much anyway), and while this has made a little difference, there is still a way to go. Spare battery has been ordered and that will sort the problem for now. Perhaps later OS upgrades may/may not alleviate the problem. But in essence, running a smaller battery, than the previous 9780, but with bigger screen, and touch, etc, doesn't quite add up."

Has the battery life improved with OS7.1? In short, maybe a tiny bit, but not to any significant level. I always carry a spare fully charged battery, and with a shorter boot time, I am not off the air for long. 

"Charging: Here's a little hint. If you have a PlayBook, use the rapid charger for your Bold 9900 (charges oh so much quicker). I have also found that the previous car chargers I have been using, now no longer charge the Bold 9900. So I purchased a Motorola Rapid Charger for the car, and this one works perfectly.
But the battery life is something I can put up with, especially given the improvements to both hardware and software, that RIM have implemented."

I am still happy to live with the poor battery life, but did notice on my recent trip to India (on the Vodafone network......Edge signal only) that the Bold 9900 fairly chewed through the battery life (even with the network settings as 2G only) (My 2 spare batteries came in very handy!), where as back in Australia on the Telstra Next-G network, battery life was better??? Confused? Yes, me too, but a happy form of confusion, as Australia is my home.  Having said that, battery life still seems to be better than the iPhone and various Androids that were on the same trip as I was (India).

"Challenge: to all of you who went to another manufacturer: try out a Bold 9900, and see what you think. For me, staying with the BlackBerry brand has been worth it (and the sometimes pain associated with previous lesser spec devices). Try it for yourself."

The challenge is still there......for the knockers.....if you are basing your out dated opinions on an older BlackBerry device, try a Bold 9900 and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. In a recent comparison between two colleagues' iPhone 4S and my Bold 9900 (all 3 on the same Australian network) going to the same webpage, the Bold was consistently and noticeably quicker in rendering the webpage. Hmmm...

"Good job RIM."

I am still happy with my BlackBerry Bold 9900, and have not found a compelling argument from any other manufacturer / OS to even consider switching. Biased, yes......but with very good reasons to be so.