BlackBerry Bold 9700: The Best BlackBerry of All Time

2. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 gets RIM's "trackpad": As mentioned earlier, a common problem area for recent BlackBerry smartphones was the pearl-like trackball used for device navigation. BlackBerry trackballs typically work great when you first get them; they roll smoothly with no obstruction. But as you use your BlackBerry and the trackball sees a bit of wear and tear, it's not uncommon for the ball to start to stick or slow down.

In the past, I typically replaced my BlackBerry trackball once every three or four months. That's all fine and good if you're comfortable with replacing BlackBerry parts, but the trackball has been a thorn in the sides of BlackBerry power users and large IT departments, which constantly have to deal with faulty trackballs.

No more, thanks to the new BlackBerry trackpad, which I've really come to love over the past months. The trackpad was first found on T-Mobile's BlackBerry Curve 8520, released last August. It has since made its way to the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and Curve 8530. And RIM has plans to do away with the trackball entirely, so you'll be seeing more of the new trackpad in the future.

1. The BlackBerry Bold 9700's battery life is exceptional: The best thing about the BlackBerry Bold 9700, in my opinion, is the device's outstanding battery life. The Bold 9700 has average talk-time of six hours on 3G, standby time of up to 17 days, and music playback time of as long as 38 hours, according to RIM.

Those are impressive numbers, especially when you compare them to the weak battery life stats of comparable devices like the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and iPhone 3G S, which both get significantly less talk, standby and music-playback times than the 9700.

What's more, I've found the Bold 9700's battery exceeds RIM's claims. My BlackBerry Bold 9700 on T-Mobile lasts about 36 hours bouncing between Wi-Fi, 3G, and EDGE coverage -- I get around -- frequently listening to music, making a few random voice calls, and receiving well above a hundred messages a day.

And the Bold 9700 uses the same 1500mAh battery found in the Bold 9000, so original Bold users who upgrade will be able to use their old Bold batteries as backups.

I use and evaluate many different smartphones in the course of my job as a mobile blogger, and I can say without any hesitation that the Bold 9700 is a cut above the rest when it comes to battery life. For that, RIM, I salute you.

So, that's a whole lot to like. But nothing in this world's perfect -- beyond Patron tequila, let's be fair. I found a few things I don't like so much about the BlackBerry Bold 9700:

3. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 has no on-device storage: Unlike the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the vast majority of RIM's recent BlackBerry smartphones, the Bold 9700 has no built-in on-board memory or storage space. The Bold 9000 has 1GB of on-board memory, so the Bold 9700 took a step down in that regard. And the new Storm 2, which is largely aimed at consumers who use the device to manage and consume multimedia, packs a full 2GB of on-board memory.

That means the Bold 9700 needs a MicroSD memory card to store any significant amount of pictures, images, or other data. And it reduces the total potential storage space available to Bold 9700 users. Whereas a Storm 2 user with a 16GB MicroSD memory card might have a total of 18GB of BlackBerry memory, Bold 9700 users have access to only the memory afforded by a MicroSD card.

RIM's Bold 9700 is the BlackBerry-maker's flagship business device, so I'm frankly disappointed that it doesn't have at least 1GB of on-board memory.

2. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is only available on T-Mobile and AT&T: As wonderful a device as the Bold 9700 may be, it won't be of any use to Verizon Wireless, Sprint, or any other wireless carrier's customers because it's currently available only on T-Mobile and AT&T in the United States.

In other words, you're out of luck if you're a Verizon or Sprint customer who wants the new Bold 9700 but you're unwilling to switch carriers. Furthermore, you cannot unlock a Bold 9700 and use it on Verizon or Sprint, like you could a Verizon or Sprint BlackBerry Tour for use on AT&T or T-Mobile, because the device uses entirely different wireless technology.

1. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is just a little bit too small: The Bold 9700 is just the second device in RIM's Bold smartphone lineup. Its older brother, the Bold 9000, is roughly 4.5 inches high and 2.6 inches wide -- which, in my opinion, is just about right. The new Bold 9700 trimmed down a bit to 4.29 inches high and 2.36 inches wide. Those changes might not sound like a lot, but when you consider the tiny size of most smartphones, the tweaks can -- and do -- make a world of difference.

I'm mostly used to the new size of the Bold 9700, but initially it bothered me to no end that RIM reduced the original Bold's size so drastically. I would've liked to see a slightly larger version -- I make more typos on the 9700 than I did the 9000, and that's entirely size-related. I have to believe that RIM will release another device in the future for us folks with large hands. But as is, the Bold 9700, particularly its keyboard, is just a bit too small to be my ideal BlackBerry.

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