BlackBerry Bold 9900 vs BlackBerry Bold 9780

RIM has unveiled five new Blackberry 7 handsets - the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930, the BlackBerry Torch 9810, 9850 and 9860. All models will pack a QWERTY keyboard, touchscreen controls and the long-rumoured NFC connectivity.

First confirmed at the company's BlackBerry World in Florida, the BlackBerry 9900 is the maker's slimmest smartphone to date and throws a touchscreen into the mix, giving it a definite advantage over the brand's existing flagship model, the BlackBerry Bold 9780. But how do the two phones compare in other areas and will it be worth an upgrade when the new handset hits the shelves. We took a closer look at the specs to see what's what.

Form Factor

Winner: Bold 9900
115 x 66 x 10.5 mm, 130g

Loser: Bold 9780
109 x 60 x 14.1mm, 122g



When it comes to mobile phones, size is an important consideration. No one wants a handset that's so big its looks like a prop from 1980s movie, but then you want a mobile that's so small that you struggle to use it. With its previous Bold models, BlackBerry has rarely strayed too far from is classic chassis design - wide, flat and not too heavy. The new model doesn't represent much of a departure from the well-known aesthetics (including the QWERTY keyboard and an optical trackpad) although it's a few mm slimmer than its predecessor, making it the thinnest BlackBerry yet. It's very slightly longer and wider than the previous model, making it a tiny bit heavier as well, but's that's to be expected as a result of the larger screen. At 130g, it's still not exactly heavy and the slimline profile is what really counts.


Display

Winner: Bold 9900
2.8-inch, 640x480, touchscreen

Loser: Bold 9780
2.44-inch, 480x360, LCD



BlackBerry handsets aren't really known for their large screens, but then if you're planning on watching lots of video on your phone they you're more likely to opt for something like the HTC Desire or iPhone 4 instead. The new Bold 9900 gets one over on its predecessor by offering a larger 2.8-inch screen compared to the older model's 2.44-inch display. While the older version offered an incredibly sharp resolution of 480x360 pixels, the 9900 sports a comparable resolution of 640x480 pixels. Along with its size and pixel count, the 9900 seriously ups the ante with the inclusion of a touchscreen, complete with multi-touch capability. It's not difficult to see which phone is the winner in this round.

 

Engine Room

Winner: Bold 9900
1.2GHz CPU, 768MB RAM

Loser: Bold 9780
624 MHz CPU, 515MB RAM



While most other flagship smartphones announced this year have featured dual-core processors to cope with the ever-growing demands of large screens, HD video playback and power-guzzling graphics, RIM is sticking to a relatively modest chipset for the Bold 9900. While upping the capabilities offered by the rather basic 624MHz CPU found in the Bold 9780, the Bold 9900 offers a 1.2GHz processor. It also boosts the 9780's RAM count of just 515MB to a far more capable 768MB. As the Bold is unlikely to be used for anything too graphics-heavy, the lack of a dual-core chip shouldn't be a problem. 

 

Storage

Winner: Bold 9900
8GB onboard + microSD up to 40GB

Loser: Bold 9780
512MB onboard + microSD up to 32GB


Despite the fact that both devices sport a microSD slot meaning that you can expand the memory (up to 32GB on the 9780 and 40GB on the 9900), the new Bold 9900's 8GB of on-board memory gives it a distinct advantage over its 512MB memory-toting predecessor. However, the importance of this rests on what the new version of BlackBerry's OS (7) is capable of. OS 6.0 doesn't allow you to store apps onto memory card, so the inclusion of a larger onboard memory is of paramount importance. We've yet to hear whether this will be any different on the new 7.0 OS (we'll update you as soon as we know). We're guessing not, as there's such a large jump in on-board memory between the 9900 and the 9780, which could well be a measure to offer storage for an increasing pool of apps.

 

Imaging

Winner: Bold 9900
5MP, flash, 720p HD video

Loser: Bold 9780
5MP, flash, video



Some of the latest smartphones have really raised the bar when it comes to on-board cameras. RIM hasn't exactly gone overboard with the imaging capabilities on the 9900, which has the same 5MP camera as its predecessor, along with the familiar LED flash. However, where the new smartphone does set itself apart from the older 9780 is with its video capture skills. While the older model only offers standard video recording, the 9900 features 720p HD video capture. It may not be up to the full HD 1080p standards that some new smartphones have, but it's a marked improvement that should please most BlackBerry users.

 

Software

Winner: Bold 9900
BB OS 7.0

Loser: Bold 9780
BB OS 6.0



The BlackBerry Bold 9900 will be the first of the brand's handsets to feature the new OS 7.0, putting it firmly ahead of the 9780 which runs 6.0. Along with support for the touchscreen, the new operating system will offer improved web browsing, including support for HTML5. RIM fans who shelled out cash on the 2010 handset lineup, including the OS 6.0-toting Curve 3G and Torch, will be disappointed to hear that their handsets won't be making the jump to OS 7.0 as they don't have the necessary processing power on board to run it. We'll let you know more about OS 7.0 as soon as we have the details.

 

Connectivity

Winner: Bold 9900
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, 3G (4G in US), NFC, BT 2.1

Loser: Bold 9780
3G, Wi-Fi b/g/n, 3G, BT 2.1



While RIM chose not to update the radio set up at all on the previous Bold model (despite most other manufacturers making the upgrade in 2010),  it has finally introduced n-Wi-Fi to its Bold series, which should boost the 9900's Wi-Fi range in comparison to its predecessor. The new model also throws built-in NFC connectivity into the mix (a first for a BlackBerry), and the US will see a 4G model (while UK users will have to make do with 3G). Other than that, the 9900 features all the usual suspects such as GPS, micro USB and Bluetooth 2.1.

 

Battery life

Tie: Bold 9780
6hrs talk, 17 days stby

Tie: Bold 9900
6.3hrs talk, 12.8 days stby



Although this rather dull spec is often ignored, it's one of the most important considerations for a portable device - after all, no one wants their phone's juice to run out halfway through the day. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 offered exactly the same battery performance as its predecessor (the 9700) with six hours of talk time and 17 days on standby. The Bold 9900, offers a very slightly longer quoted talked time of 6.3 hours, albeit with a substantially reduced standby time of 12.8 days. We would've been surprised if it came with the same battery capabilities as the 9780 - after all, there's a bigger processor and a touchscreen interface to power now. We're calling this a tie as although the new model has the edge on talk time, the standby time is longer on the older model.

 

Conclusions

It's no surprise that a spec-based comparison between the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and its predecessor, the Bold 9780 sees the newer model coming out on top. However, the 9900 has a lot of big changes rather than just a few mm shaved off here and there. True, it has a slimmed down profile, but it's also the first handset in the Bold lineup to feature a touchscreen (and with it a bigger display), as well as RIM's new OS 7.0 and a more powerful processor to run it. Add to that the substantial increase in onboard memory capacity along with the inclusion of 720p HD video capture and the Bold 9900 looks like a pretty cool handset.

If you're a dedicated Android or iPhone fan, then the new BlackBerry Bold is unlikely to shake your tech conviction, but for BlackBerry fans, there are certainly a lot of compelling reasons to make the upgrade, particularly as existing models won't be getting an update to OS 7. Like a lot of other things in life, for many, the decision will ultimately come down to price. The Bold 9900 is due to land in late August and although RIM has yet to announce any pricing details, but Three has been named as a carrier in the UK. Keep checking back for the latest news on networks and prices - as soon as we know, you'll know.

This article was originally published on 2 May 2011.

Will you be upgrading to the BlackBerry Bold 9900 or will you be sticking with the current model?