This is the Blackberry You've Been Waiting For!
The BlackBerry 9700 represents a winning combination of size, price, features and usability. It is a great phone for the professional on the move as well as the housewife on the go. The intuitive menu system and the ability to customize almost every facet of the phones operation as well as options like GPS make the 9700 a versatile and useful device.
The 9700 is relatively small, very thin and comfortable to use. It measures 4.29 inches high x 2.36 inches wide x .46 inches in depth and weighs in at 4.3 ounces which makes it slightly smaller and lighter than the 8800 that we tested last year. To me the most welcome change is the new trackpad feature which in my opinion is far superior to the 8800's trackball. This new system eliminates the moving trackball and makes for much easier and smoother navigation. Horizontal and vertical sensitivity is easy to adjust via the tools menu. The Trackpad system is simple and allows you to navigate through menu items effortlessly. The straight forward interface allows the user to make seamless transitions between all of the phones applications, whether it is going from looking up an address in your directory, to getting directions by using the optional TeleNav GPS Navigator or Google Maps on the internet.
The high resolution screen offers outstanding colors as well as clear and easy readability, however it does not offer a touch sensitive screen like the Palm Pre or the Iphone. The screen is vivid, and all of the application icons are easy to see. The menu buttons in each application provide the user with a list of options available within that application.
At first glance, the BlackBerry's keyboard keys seem rather small and clustered together. They are, however, quite easy to use. Errors made from inadvertently hitting keys next to the intended one were minimal, while accessing symbols and numbers is made easy with “symbol” key. This makes sending messages through text messaging, e-mail, or the BlackBerry messenger very quick and easy.
The main purpose of a smartphone still remains the basic function of placing and receiving calls, retrieving messages and surfing the web. The sound quality on both ends-sending and receiving – is quite good. BlackBerry has always been known for its messaging capabilities which work quite well. Functions, such as SMS, MMS and instant messaging also performed as expected. In addition, BlackBerrys are expected to do e-mail well and they do. One can sync and push data from a variety of email accounts. Word, Excel, PDF, and JPEG files can be viewed however editing requires third-party software.
The BlackBerry browser is easy to use, and connection speed is reasonable in areas that support 3G. Even pages with lots of pictures load quickly and are easy to navigate. The websites that you visit are stored in a log, making it very easy to transition between your frequently visited sites. As such, you won't need to keep typing in the web address you wish to visit. The 9700 supports 3G as well as Wifi and the browsing experience is about as good as one can expect from a screen of this size although the available applications such as weather, stocke, news, etc. make this process much more enjoyable. If your primary goal is surfing the net (not making calls), consider a laptop or an Ipad.
The Blackberry 9700 has a built-in 3.2 megapixel camera with a 3X digital zoom and video recording capability. You can easily view your pictures on the unit's high-resolution display, or send them by MMS or by email to your friends. Pictures taken outdoors were quite good, while low light pictures (in close proximity to the subject) worked well with the built in flash.
Another very useful feature is the built-in GPS capability using TeleNav TeleNav is an optional service that offers virtually everything that my portable GPS offers plus voice input to make hands free requests to guide me to intended destinations. Whether traveling to new locations or exploring your own home territory, the optional GPS function is an extremely useful tool. The voice directions are clear and helpful and allow the driver to concentrate on the road and not be distracted by the phone screen. Of particular usefulness are the voice prompts that are given with the actual name of the street on which to turn. You can use this feature to pinpoint your location, and get turn-by-turn directions to restaurants, businesses and other destinations.
Did I mention apps? Although Blackberry can't boast the quantity of applications available for the Iphone, there are still plenty to choose from in all categories, ranging from business, to personal, to games, etc. Many can be found at http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/appworld/. In addition, there are quite a number of other resources and vendors that can easily be found on Google.
Other standard features expected by the road warrior include the usual: calendar, address/contacts, and task list all which can sync with Outlook and a Web browser. The 9700 handles audios and supports AAC, MP3, WMA as well as a variety of other music formats. In addition, this smartphone supports MPEG-4 and WMV video files. Bluetooth capability and memory expansion with a microSD card slot complete the package.
The BlackBerry 9900 boasts an impressive battery life, with a rated talk time of 5 hours and standby time of 21 days.
All in all, the BlackBerry 9700 is a well-designed, versatile, mobile smart phone with many attractive features that work well in today's hectic business environment. In this competitive world of Iphones, Palm devices, Android phones, etc. the Blackberry holds it own. You may want to consider holding one as well.