BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 hands-on

RIM, and its BlackBerry phones, have always been a big hit with the corporate contingent, stringing together countless handsets which appeal to the heavy business user - thanks in part to its excellent QWERTY setup and reliable push email.

So it was with an air of anticipation and excitement that we got hands-on with the new Bold of the five-handset lineup - its largest global handset launch ever -  to see whether it carries on that fine business BlackBerry tradition.

Thinness seems to be the order of the day with both the Bold 9900 and 9930 (one handset, different carrier name) - being just 10.5mm thick - making it RIM's skinniest smartphone yet.

This thinness, during our initial inspection at least, was not quite Samsung Galaxy SII levels of skinny, but definitely added a bit of excitement to the BlackBerry mix. It was also nice to see RIM keeping up its traditionally solid approach to handset design, with the Bold feeling nice to hold in the hand and the metal wraparound a particularly nice touch. 

The big selling point of handsets like the Bold is of course the QWERTY keyboard, which doesn't disappoint. The key size and solid feel to each button means even the most addicted of BBMers will find the Bold a good typing choice. 

The screen has also undergone a major revamp. The 640 x 480 display is much, much brighter and thanks to the new BlackBerry 7 OS feels much more responsive. Viewing angles were good, blacks looked deep and all in all it looks like RIM has had a major screen rethink across all its new handsets.

It also boasts NFC capabilities, as was rumoured when details of the handset first started to circulate in webland. We unfortunately didn't get to try this out, but expect more when Pocket-lint gets a lengthier time to play with the device.

On the back of the handset is a 5-megapixel camera capable of shooting 720p video. The cam was suitably impressive, a bit like the PlayBook and featured image stabilisation as well as different scene modes. The handset itself was sitting in a relatively poorly lit room and we didn't notice much noise when snapping. Shots were also sharp and well saturated. 

BlackBerry 7 is a significant jump for RIM in terms of touch sensitivity and social networking integration. BBM now sits within certain apps and games as well as featuring a more diverse set of sharing options. The Liquid Graphics tech included chugs along nicely on the Bold thanks to the 1.2GHz processor and 768MB of RAM. It means that the UI is a lot more snappy and things generally load quicker. 

The browser in BlackBerry 7 has also been sped up, boasting a 40 per cent speed hike over previous BlackBerry 6 devices. It was most definitely noticeable when loading up web pages, particularly compared to our previous generation Torch. 

We definitely like the look and feel of the new Bold. It is very well designed, thin and carries that signature high quality BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. The screen improvements are welcome as is the processor speed. What we cannot be so sure about without lengthier time with the handset is actually how good BlackBerry 7 is. It could be the icing on the cake in a package that could send BlackBerry back into the game. 

Like the look of the Bold? Or are you not convinced?