Rogers to launch BlackBerry Bold
Rogers Communications Inc, the owner of Canada's biggest wireless carrier, will start offering Research In Motion Ltd's new BlackBerry Bold on Thursday, the telecom firm said.
The Bold is RIM's most advanced smartphone to date and is the first BlackBerry to support high-speed HSDPA cellular networks. It comes with integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and a host of multimedia features.
RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Reuters in May that the smartphone, aimed at the company's base of business users, will cost between $300 and $400. AT&T will be its lead carrier in the United States.
A Rogers spokeswoman said pricing details were not immediately available.
The smartphone is expected to be available with carriers around the world by the end of this week.
The Bold features the most vivid display ever on a BlackBerry, a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capability, and a media player for watching movies and managing music collections.
Here is a detailed review comparing the BlackBerry Bold to the iPhone 3G. Let the battle begin!
The Bold is handsome. It is bigger than the Curve, chunkier and wider. In fact it weighs 136g, enough to feel heavy in your shirt pocket. But it still feels comfortable in the palm and during thumb-typing.
The clean black finish of the front screen and keyboard is bounded by a chrome metal rim. It feels and looks like a serious piece of kit - unlike some of the more recent BlackBerry models, which have been a bit plasticky. The design excellence of the iPhone has clearly put the RIM guys back on their game. The styling of the Bold is a big winner.
The keyboard is a big improvement. The basic querty layout is the one that BlackBerry users know and appreciate but the rows of keys are separated horizontally by metals frets which not only look great but space out the keys making them easier to hit. The individual keys are also bevelled to improve the ergonomics of typing. I am not quite sure I understand why this tactile shaping works but it certainly helped for me.
Screen and multimedia
The screen is another big plus and, for me, the stand-out feature of the Bold. The 480x320 LCD screen delivers a fantastic quality of deep blacks and vibrant pin-sharp colours. The Bold uses the screen to good effect with a complete update in the icons layout which make navigation round the functions and features of the handset a richer experience. The basic functions like the trademark BlackBerry instant e-mail are simple, clear and, dare I say, elegant.
Comparing the Bold's display side by side with the iPhone, I thought the Bold was just as crisp and clean. Playing film clips was certainly a revelation on the Bold after the poverty of my Curve display. As the man from RIM said "the multi-media experience is a key part of our offering", which translates as "you don't need to buy an iPhone when everything looks and sounds this good with the Bold". Key to this are the music-playing features, where the iPhone has ruled pretty much supreme. But now loading music onto the Bold is much easier using the free Media Sync software, which will pull music and playlists from your music library, even from iTunes (but it won't work with iTunes-bought tracks).
All this new multimedia stuff needs some good storage and the Bold comes loaded with 1GB of memory which can be increased by using a microSD card. The slot is at the side and this increases the capacity to a respectable (but not huge) 8GB.
The Bold's camera with built-in flash is only two megapixels, but for most corporate users that is perfectly adequate. You can also take video and there is a 3x zoom. With its new consumer-friendly focus, the Bold allows you to upload your pictures to Facebook at the push of a button. Using the in-built GPS and BlackBerry maps, you can also Geotag your pictures. Additional software will turn your handset into a turn-by-turn GPS sat-nav device.
Speed and connectivity
The Bold comes loaded with all the connectivity you could want. This is the first quad-band BlackBerry with 3G and HSDPA, which means that wherever you are in the world you will be able to connect to a mobile network and receive e-mail and browse the web. The powerful processor enabled me to browse and play music tracks quite comfortably.
The 1500 mAhr battery is again the biggest yet in a BlackBerry and while RIM says it has a respectable standby time of 9 days and a talk time of 4.3 hours on GSM, the new multimedia functions, especially video, will eat the battery pretty quickly.
Surfing the net on the BlackBerry is much better than on previous models but I still don't like it as much as the iPhone. You view full-size web pages and use the trackball to move around and zoom in. It's good but I wouldn't want to do it for hours at a time.
Here is where the Bold excels, as you would expect. You can edit Microsoft Word and Excel documents and PowerPoint slides on the move, copy and paste, the lot. For many business users this will be a deal-maker. As usual, BlackBerry offers a host of corporate services to please the tech purchasing teams of businesses.
The Bold does all the other things you would expect a smartphone to do. It has wi-fi, Bluetooth, a USB port, games, a weather application and a great clock.
The Bold will be in Orange shops and on their website from Saturday, August 16. The handset is free with a contract of £40 per month over 18 months. The Carphone Warehouse is expected to stock it and it will also be available from T-Mobile from September. No word yet on O2.
Bold is beautiful - even if not quite as beautiful as the iPhone. For business users and those who like thumb-typing this is the best smartphone in the market. But the browser and the iPhone's bigger touchscreen will mean that Apple addicts will probably not be converted.
There you have it - the tidbits on both smartphones. Which will you choose?