BlackBerry Bold: Just a Name

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The long awaited (read: delayed) Blackberry Bold went on sale yesterday from AT&T, but I've been testing one of these phones for three weeks now. And, while RIM's toy is certainly shiny, overall, I'm just not that impressed.

It all looks great: black glossy cover, metallic rim, leatherette back, and a big marketing push from Research In Motion over the last year to promote one of its most anticipated devices. But using the Bold for a few weeks as my primary handset proved not to be the joy ride I expected.

Inside out

If you look at the exterior of the Blackberry Bold, one might say it is quite pretty. However, compared to other phones in its class (like the Nokia E71), the Bold looks a bit bulky.

Arguably, the Bold is a major improvement over previous Blackberry models, but it's unlikely to turn heads. Thanks to its everlasting shipment delays, everybody knew that there was a new Blackberry around the corner. When I tried to show off my Bold, nobody seemed impressed.

While the keyboard gives good tactile feedback and is quite responsive, the trackball that RIM uses in all its latest models is noisy and sometimes overly responsive. Pressing the trackball is not a pleasure either, as its tracking is not deep enough and feels like it rubs against sandpaper when rolled.

Admittedly, it is very nice to have a standard earphone jack on the Bold and the sound quality is quite impressive and considerably loud. The Mini USB port is also a pleasant addition and serves for both charging and connecting to a computer.

The Bold's camera won't eliminate the need for you to carry your own camera, though. Two megapixels is a bit of a dated standard (which Apple should address as well in its iPhone) when it comes to today's mobile phones, and given the thickness of the Bold, RIM could have crammed in something better.

Beauty is not skin deep

The Blackberry Bold's screen is amazing. Crisp, sharp, and bright, the screen even overtakes the quality of Nokia's flagship phone, the N96. Unfortunately, the wonders stop here. The new software delivered with the Blackberry Bold tends to be quite clumsy and silly at times.

For yet to be understood reasons, the Bold's clock application does not support multiple recurrent alarms. Plus, the photo camera and the video camera are two different applications, the latter being buried somewhere deep into the Applications folder. Also, by default, the email and SMS inboxes are different folders. However, Bold's music player is quite good and offers all the functionality one would expect from a modern mobile phone music player.

The best is yet to come

While I wouldn't bet my money on record sales of the Blackberry Bold, we haven't seen the best of Research In Motion yet. RIM has one more trick up its sleeve and it's called Storm. If you're waiting for that truly amazing Blackberry, you could wait a few more weeks until RIM's true iPhone challenger is released.

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