Tuesday, 24 November 2009 08:58

BlackBerry's best yet, the Bold 9700, finally on sale

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BlackBerry’s very recently announced Bold 9700 is finally available at retail from Telstra stores today, and other telcos from early December, and given that it’s the best BlackBerry yet, despite strong competition, it should be a Berry Merry Christmas for RIM and telco partners!
If you’re thinking of a BlackBerry and like the BlackBerry Bold 9000, RIM’s recently announced successor has finally come to retail, just in time for the upcoming end-of-year holiday sales season and just in time to better compete with everyone else.

Called the BlackBerry Bold 9700, it retains the same look and feel while being slightly smaller than the original.

With a 2.44-inch screen compared with the Bold’s 2.5-inches, and a slightly smaller keyboard, which users would quickly get used to, it features the latest BlackBerry 5.0 operating system, the same fast processor as the Bold and the new optical trackpad previously released on the Curve 8520/8530. 

The optical trackpad allows you to glide your finger across a trackpad square, as opposed to having to roll around the trackball, originally launched with the BlackBerry Pearl and seen as its white glowing “pearl” at the time.

The trackball was an improvement over the previous side-based scrolling wheel, but with some user reports of dust able to foul up the trackball, the optical trackpad is a welcome replacement that works very nicely indeed.

Another improvement is a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, up from the original Bold’s 2 megapixel snapper. 

All of that said, the Bold 9000 is still a popular model and will remain on sale, with the 9700 simply the new flagship model.

Although Vodafone and Optus will have 900MHz coverage in rural and regional areas, and Optus is pre-selling the Bold 9700 online for early December delivery, Telstra is offering the 9700 in stores and online today – and still has the 850MHz 3.5G HSPA+ network benefits that, as everyone knows, offers the fastest speeds and widest coverage in Australia, for which it charges higher prices than the competition.

Telstra’s Executive Director of Product Management, Ross Fielding, expected the 9700 to be a hit with business customers and consumers given the Bold 9000’s ongoing popularity.

For business users, Fielding explained that: “Lighter and more powerful, the new Blackberry 9700 has a full keyboard and push email service which will help customers stay connected to their email, office calendar and the mobile internet. Teamed with Telstra’s Next G network it provides outstanding smartphone performance in more places.”
 
“A premium finish and a high build quality are carried across to the new model. Battery life continues to be outstanding giving customers the range they need to stay connected on longer trips.”
 
For consumers, Fielding suggested that: “Consumers are demonstrating a real appetite for smartphones and we think the BlackBerry Bold 9700 will be popular with these customers. BlackBerry’s seamless email on-the-go experience and the ability to personalise each phone by downloading and running a range of social media applications like Facebook and Uber Twitter are amongst the features we expect will appeal most to consumers.”
 
NEXT – Specs, an image and some telco Bold 9700 pricing


Telstra also the IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, October 2009 which says that: “The number of smartphone shipments to Australia increased by 29 per cent in the first half of 2009 as Australian businesses continued to adopt email-capable phones to boost workforce productivity and the growth in mobile applications made smartphones a must-have companion for many consumers.”
 
Specs include:

- Sleek design measuring 109 mm x 60 mm x 14.1 mm and weighing only 122 grams

- Sharp 2.44-inch light-sensing display

- Highly tactile full-QWERTY keyboard – with finely sculpted keys and chrome frets – for fast, accurate typing

- Touch-sensitive trackpad that allows intuitive and responsive navigation

- Built-in Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)

- 3.2 megapixel camera with variable zoom, autofocus, flash and video recording

- BlackBerry OS 5.0, offering users email management and calendar enhancements as well as a better browsing experience with faster JavaScript and CSS processing

- Built-in GPS for maps and other location-based applications including Whereis Navigator

- 3.5 mm stereo headset jack

- Up to 15 hours’ standby time; up to 360 minutes talk time

- 256MB internal flash memory, expandable memory up to 32GB (comes bundled with a 2GB microSD card)

- Bluetooth 2.0

Image
Telstra's version of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 - story continues below...


Telstra is selling the 9700 on its Business plans from “$0 upfront” on an $85 “Mobile PLUS” plan from December 1 (strangely not from today when available at retail!), on its Enterprise and Government Enterprise Fleet Plans and to consumers for $999 on an “MRO over 24 months”.

Optus, Vodafone (and presumably 3 Mobile also) have the Bold 9700 on a $79 plan, likely with better call credit than Telstra’s $85 monthly plan, and no doubt will have other options available as well.

RIM’s BlackBerry Storm 2 is yet to come, there’s still plenty of competition from the iPhone, its apps and all the iPhone clones, and there’s still no BlackBerry model like a Bold 9000 or 9700 with a physical keyboard AND a touch screen, something that presumably will come in the future, but all up, it’s RIM’s best BlackBerry yet – and if you want one, it’s available now from Telstra or in a few days from other carriers.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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