RIM made good progress to close the gap between its phones and those of the competition with its BlackBerry Bold 9900. It was beautifully built, packed with features, had an improved interface and, crucially, had a relatively large touch screen, but it was a phone quite expensive. Now BlackBerry is back with a new, more affordable touchscreen, Bold, the 9790. Unfortunately, BlackBerry has also significantly reduced the appeal by lowering the price.
However, the first impressions of the BlackBerry Bold 9790 are good. The black and chrome style looks as elegant as ever and the build quality is excellent despite the fact that most of the phone is made of plastic. The only reason for concern is that the curved screen is made of plastic instead of glass, so you will have to buy a suitcase to avoid scratching too much: you will not get it in the box.
An advantage of the smaller size of this phone and the curved edges is that it fits perfectly in your hand and that you have easy access to all buttons. The soft-touch plastic on the detachable back plate also contributes to this comfort with ease.
Under the back plate there is a 1230 mAh battery, the SIM card slot and a microSD slot, which can take cards up to 32 GB, but not with an installed card. Instead, you get 8 GB of built-in storage space, which is enough to get started with your multimedia collection and applications. Also at the back is a 5 megapixel camera with its LED flash.
General ergonomics is supported by receptive and well-designed buttons. The keyboard, for example, extends over the full width of the phone with minimal space at the edges, making it as spacious as possible. Above that, the five navigation buttons are pleasant and receptive. The central part of this is an optical touch panel that is not necessary for the most part, because you can only use the touch screen, but it is useful to locate the cursor to edit text, among other things. In fact, it may be more useful in this device than its older brother, because the smaller screen here is more difficult to use for daily browsing.
Coming back to the keyboard, this is the premium type of BlackBerry. Each key is separated and sculpted to better match the shape of your thumbs as they hit. This is the opposite of the cheaper BlackBerry keyboard used in the Curve range, which uses a single sheet of more rounded buttons, allowing the surrounding keys to bend and move when a key is pressed. As such, the typing experience is very good, although the two column buttons at the edges get used to.
Both the keyboard and the navigation keys have elegant backlighting in white, which is essential for writing in the dark. We like the way the phone goes into standby mode by turning off the screen and the keyboard at that moment and slowly darkening the backlight of the navigation buttons, it is just like a science fiction movie.
The most important navigation buttons are call answering, menu, track point, back and call end / power functions. Although navigation systems with a touchscreen have come a long way in recent years, there is definitely something about having to press a physical button to answer a call, or always knowing where to hit, so that a menu with options appears.