With the release of the BlackBerry Bold 9650 on Sprint and Verizon there has been quite a bit of debate as to whether or not this new line of Blackberries are indeed deserving of the title ‘Bold’ or just an upgraded Tour. We’ll break this phone down into two parts; software and hardware…
Boasting an impressive 512 MB of onboard memory the BlackBerry Bold 9650 dwarfs the Bold 9700’s 256 MB capacity. With the nearly double allotment of memory, you can be sure that your phone won’t be bogged down by downloaded applications or a congested inbox. This boost in memory is also speculated to make room for the much anticipated OS 6.0, as well as the new WebKit browser when they’re released later this year. Along with more onboard memory the 9650 was also born with OpenGL which will support 3D graphics (something the 9700 lacks).
Bluetooth, something that you either use religiously or can live without, was refreshed as well. The 9650 was given Bluetooth v2.1. The main feature of 2.1 is secure simple pairing (SSP) which, in layman terms, means that the pairing experience is made easier as well as more secure.
That’s pretty much it for software upgrades but the real fun is in the hardware.
This is the main point of contention when labeling the 9650 as a Bold. The original Tour and the 9650 might seem identical with respect to form factor….. because they are. With only a slight change in weight (.22 oz or 6 grams lighter) the form factor is essentially a carbon copy. I personally feel the 9700 is a bit small and weightless, but, the 9650 feels solid. It feels the way a BlackBerry should feel… Like the original Bold 9000.
Some people complain about the 9700’s keyboard keys along the perimeter of the phone stating they are too close to the edge which results in spelling errors. The 9650 takes care of that by providing a buffer in the form of a chrome bezel. Nice touch! This makes typing on the 9650 much more seamless and comfortable than the 9700.
The 9650 is now equipped with WiFi (802.11 b/g), something that Tour owners incessantly gripe about. I’ve tested download speeds over both 3G (Sprint) and WiFi and can definitely attest to the noticeable increase in speed. What took so long?!
Another major upgrade to the 9650 is the implementation of a trackpad as opposed to the god awful trackball. This thing is money! It’s responsive, set neatly with little to no wiggle room, and just adds to the over all sexiness of the phone. The days of replacing trackballs after 4 months of use are now gone. Rejoice!
All three phones still have a 3.2 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash, so no upgrade there. Some people complain about the positioning of the micro USB port but I haven’t encountered any issues nor has it effected my day-to-day use. There are still 2 customizable convenience keys located on either end of the phone and a two way volume rocker. I do like, however, the placement of the speakerphone grill (on the right side of the device). It allows for crisp sound quality when playing music or using the speakerphone during a call when laid flush on it’s back.
What do you think? Is the increase in memory (2X’s the amount), implementation of WiFi, addition of trackpad and slight decrease in weight enough to merit the 9650 the title of a Bold? I sure think so!
Think of it like this, if the Tour 9630 and the Bold 9700 met up after work for a few drinks this is the device they’d give birth to. It combines the sturdy form factor of the Tour, the trackpad and WiFi capabilities of the 9700 all while doubling the memory. This was an excellent move, RIM. Go out and get this phone!