No more is the hardy BlackBerry the purview of the stiff, suit-wearing, frequent flyer who expected nothing more amusing on his phone than that ridiculous BrickBreaker game (besides, of course, salary credit text messages from their banks. Those are always fun).
The BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Curve and the 8800 series have all augmented the essential communication capabilities of the BlackBerry with several “consumer” features. And by consumer features I mean “flippant”, un-business-like things such as multimedia, expandable memory, updated operating systems, GPS and vibrant display.
And these changes did not come a minute too soon either. The BlackBerry’s raison d’être — always-on push email and web connectivity — had ceased to be. Robust, feature-rich phones from Samsung, Nokia and Apple all incorporated seamless connectivity in an attempt to break into the business phone segment (ample proof for this being the iPhone advertisement on several Indian television channels that boasts its dual identity as both a multimedia platform and a “pretty good business phone”).
In this state of affairs, the BlackBerry Bold is a superlative effort. The first in the brand new 9000 series, the Bold is not — and we mean this purely in the original metaphorical interpretation — lipstick on a pig. It is a complete aesthetic rethink of the BlackBerry concept.
The Bold is sexy, at least on the front face, with a great combination of soft curves, glossy black finish and straight lines. The four thin metal dividers between the rows of Qwerty keys are symbolic of the design ideas that make the Bold a BlackBerry to flaunt and not hide away in a holster.
We are not, however, so thrilled with the leather finish on the back. Somehow it came across as a design meeting after-thought: “Ok, glossy on the back is so over. And the iPhone guys have already done metal. What texture options do we have left, people?”
Anyone who has made the transition to a Berry from any other brand will remember the initial moments of open-jawed awe as the operating system zips through applications effortlessly. Therefore, one of the most endearing things about the Bold is how RIM (Research in Motion) has left the soul of the BlackBerry untouched while giving it a superb makeover. Like most handhelds in the family, the Bold too has an operating system that is lightning fast. Even summoning up the media player and playing reasonably heavy video files was smooth and intuitive.
Was the screen big, bright and gorgeous? Yes, yes and yes. Is it as big as the iPhone’s display? No! Is that a problem? Berry unlikely! While slapping touchscreens on to phones is de rigueur, the Bold sticks to the fundamental BlackBerry design and, thanks to an excellent keyboard, is none the worse for it.
The Bold comes with GPS, hot swappable microSD card slot (simply plug handset into your computer’s USB port with the supplied wire to transfer files), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a commendable 2 megapixel camera. And if the in-built speakers — superb as they are — won’t do, you can always plug in your favourite pair of headphones into the 3.55mm jack.
The BlackBerry Bold comes at a hefty price tag of Rs34,990 but it is worth every naya paisa for its brilliant combination of form and function.
Battery life: 13 days standby, approx. 5 hours talktime
Display: 480x320 pixel, 65,000 colours
Networks: GSM quad-band, 3G, Wi-Fi
Multimedia: Divx, Avi, WMV3, MP3, WMA
Memory: 1GB onboard, miscroSD
Camera: 2 megapixel, video recording