Mobile Phones Guide

BlackBerry Bold 9900 review

BlackBerry Bold 9900 - Gallant Warrior

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Launch SRP S$927

Overall rating 8.5/10
Design:
9
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
9
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Gorgeous high resolution touchscreen
Long battery life
Excellent QWERTY keyboard
THE BAD
Below par imaging quality
BlackBerry 7 OS still falls behind the competition
Screen can be bigger


Performance

Testing the Warrior 

Being touted as the most powerful BlackBerry smartphone in RIM's arsenal right now, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 has high expectations to meet and we feel that it met most of them. The Bold 9900 boasts some of the most powerful hardware components found in BlackBerry devices so far. For example, the Bold 9900 receives a nifty speed boost with its 1.2GHz processor, which is a huge leap from the 624MHz processor in the Bold 9780. It now has 768MB of RAM compared to 512MB RAM found on the Bold 9780. 

Thanks to Liquid Graphics technology and BlackBerry 7 OS, the user interface feels very smooth and fluid in its operation. This is something unseen in previous BlackBerry devices and we really think that RIM has done an excellent job here. Apps load quite quickly and transitions between home screen panels are effortless. The BlackBerry Bold 9900 also boasts a high resolution display of 640 x 480 pixels. We enjoy viewing multimedia content on the display as the resolution is dense enough at 287dpi. Images look brilliant and text is sharp. Watching videos on the 2.8-inch screen is fine although we will prefer a bigger screen.

RIM prides itself on making one of the best QWERTY keyboards in the market and we believe that the Bold 9900 is an excellent example of that. As with previous Bold models, the Bold 9900 feels great to type on with the wider QWERTY keyboard. The buttons have a good feel when we type on them and the tactile feedback is awesome. Within a few minutes, we are typing out emails and replying tweets swiftly. 

In terms of browser performance, we also feel that RIM has done a good job. The integration of the touch screen makes it easier for us to browse the Internet without relying on the optical track pad, which can be tricky to use at times. We put the Bold 9900 through the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, which gauges the performance of the browser in mobile devices. For this benchmark, a good web browser will achieve a lower score. We got an average score of 2622.84ms, which is currently the top result from our extensive list of smartphones tested. It easily edges out popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy S II which recorded 3406.5ms and the Apple iPhone 4 that only managed  4128ms. These results only solidified RIM's proposition of the Bold 9900 being a smooth surfer.

Over on the imaging side of things, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 comes with a 5-megapixel camera and a LED flash, which is considered modest as we have seen 8-megapixel shooters in newer handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation. Nevertheless, the number of megapixel doesn't really matter in cameraphones as we do not see them replacing dedicated cameras anytime soon. We put the Bold 9900 through our usual camera tests below:

 

BlackBerry phones are not known for their camera performance. Even so, we do not know why RIM did not equip the BlackBerry Bold 9900 with an auto-focus capable camera module. Because of its fixed-focus lens, image quality takes quite a beating. The saving grace for the camera is its HD video recording. When we took the Bold 9900 for a video shoot, the video quality turned out good.

Having seen the performance of its camera, we move on to one of the strengths of  most BlackBerry phones - battery performance. One of the key advantages of BlackBerry devices over the competition is that they usually last longer. We put its reputation on the line with our battery tests which include the following:

  1. Looping a video of 800 x 480 pixels resolution 
  2. Maximum screen brightness and volume
  3. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on to pull in data constantly via Twitter

We compare the BlackBerry Bold 9900 with its predecessor and the recently launched HTC ChaCha which has a similar form factor. 

Specifications/Device BlackBerry Bold 9900 BlackBerry Bold 9780 HTC ChaCha
Processor
  • 1.2GHz
  • 624MHz
  • 800MHz
Display Size
  • 2.8-inch
  • 2.44-inch
  • 2.6-inch
Display Type
  • TFT
  • TFT
  • TFT
Display Resolution
  • 640 x 480 pixels
  • 480 x 360 pixels
  • 480 x 320 pixels
Dimensions
  • 115 x 66 x 10.5mm
  • 109 x 60 x 14mm
  • 114.4 x 64.6 x 10.7mm
Weight
  • 130g
  • 122g
  • 120
Battery
  • 1230mAh
  • 1500mAh
  • 1250mAh

 

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 proves to be a very capable smartphone with its impressive battery life of 6 hours and 33 minutes in our intensive video run - it even outlasted the Bold 9780 by an hour. This is admirable despite the Bold 9900 running on a faster processor, sporting a bigger screen and having a smaller battery capacity. This led us to believe that the new BlackBerry 7 OS has improved power management. This is further confirmed by the results in the Power Consumption chart. The BlackBerry Bold 9900 also came out top in our Portability Index, having achieved the delicate balance between mobility and battery stamina. For business professionals who need a modern smartphone to stay in touch the whole day, they will not go wrong with the BlackBerry Bold 9900.

Given that our battery test is tailored to mimic a highly stressful usage environment, it is likely that you can squeeze more battery juice out of the Bold 9900 under normal usage conditions. Do note that actual battery life varies under different usage conditions.