BlackBerry Bold Touch hands-on [competition]

Our good friend CrackBerry Kevin has just gone hands-on with the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930, the new touch-enabled flagship phone from RIM. BlackBerry has always excelled at the front-facing QWERTY, and the Bold 9000 series has been the be very best of their best -- and now with the 9900 and 9930 it's going touch. Not touch like the Storm -- thank Odin for that! -- or even like the original underpowered Torch. No, this is doing it with BlackBerry OS 7, a 287dpi 640x480 screen, and a 1.2GHz processor.

Some questions remain, however. Can BlackBerry really do touch? The PlayBook says they can but this phone still runs BBOS, not the new QNX platform. Is the touchscreen and keyboard, like the old Palm Treo line, the best of both worlds or twice the compromises? And will "super apps" stop being a lame marketing quip and become truly killer software for BlackBerry?

The Bold 9900/9930 will debut this summer, which would typically put them head-to-head with a new iPhone, but this year iPhone 5 might only debut in the fall. Will that help RIM out? Hit the link below, watch the video, and tell us if Apple and iPhone 4 have anything to worry about.


Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

TiPb asks: How do you group your Folders?

Next up →

iOS 4.3.3 coming soon, will fix location database

Reader comments

BlackBerry Bold Touch hands-on [competition]


Secure my butts, bbm please that is old fashion and there is tons of messengers that you could use, like whatsapp.
Don't be blind. Blackberry are a POS device, btw how many times you pull your battery today?

Can you even change your battery, or even add a memory card, or even have a capable messenger services(Whats app doesn't count cause you have to pay for it, and liveprofile keeps crashing). lol

I totally agree with Allen. Blackberry still has some great features. I love my Blackberry 9780 and it does what I need it to much better than my iPhone (email, instant messaging, phone calls).
I think RIM will climb back to the top with the 9900; although, it is still not appealing to many geeks who are loyal to iOS and Android.

Let's see... if you step away from your iphone for a few mins, how do you know if an email or sms has arrived since you were gone? That's right... without touching the phone you don't.
C'mon Apple, is one tiny LED notification light so hard to do? This is literally the only thing holding me back from switching BB to Apple.

When I get a text my iPhone sounds the alert tone and when I get an email my iPhone sounds the email alert tone. What is there to miss? How do you see that LED in your pocket?

Did you not see that the poster said if you walk away, not if you have it in your pocket? I also agree with the problem of not having a notification light of some sort. I don't understand why that hasn't been implemented in some way.

Walk away?! Who the heck is ever more than 3 feet from their phone?! Blackberry types are weirdos, I guess. :P

I will NEVER use a blackberry again! Their app store is practically nonexistent & the hardware isn't nearly as good as Apple's. I honestly feel bad for blackberry users, they are really missing out.

I never will make the mistake again switch and iPhone for a blackberry. Just had it 9 months bb storm 1 and 2. Never again.
I'm back with iPhone. I did always miss my iPhone.

"tell us if Apple and iPhone 4 have anything to worry about."
nope. especially since RIM is so desperate they're looking to 2005's Palm Treo for ideas and renaming incremental OS updates solely to fabricate hype.
it's sad to see them flounder in desperation like they are.

Can't even come close to iPhone. The experience, smoothness, and absolutely the apps. And why would you need trackpad if it already a touchscreen device?

Metal around the phone they totally tried to make it look like an iPhone from the sides. antenna issues With bb is next...

Actually, the Bold 9000 had the same metal-around-the-sides design, and no antenna issues... And that was long before Apple used this design on iPhone 4...

I can honestly say that I loved the keyboard and BBM on my curve when I had it. That is it, nothing else about black berry do I miss. I can't imagine going from iPhone 4 to any black berry to "hold me over" until iPhone 5. I would wait two years before I went back to black berry. Maybe I would switch if black berry put IOS on their devices. Like I said the keyboard rocks. I could respond to a text with one hand not even looking at the device. Will never be able to do that on an iPhone.

I switched from an iPhone 4 to a blackberry 9780 and I like it wayyyy better. I do a lot of emailing and BBM though, so a keyboard is great for me.
All my media, apps, and gaming, I do on my iPad 2.
People need to stop comparing orange to apples.

Looks nice. And to one of the comments above somewhere, bb aint old fashion. I seen tons of people using bb everyday. I work in a retail store, and most, if not major of these people coming in are always on their berrys.

jezz no need to nuthug on either devices both iPhone and bb have pro and cons , it's all about personal preference . I am a long time bb user who made the jump to iPhone 4 , I live and hate both , at th moment and probably for a ling long while I will stay with apple , I have been surprisingly impressed with this device , it would be nice to see bb make strides to step up there devices to compete with say apple or android blah bah blah , not only would it please those who stay true to the brands but also create the opportunity to have each company continue to oust for even better products ;) win win for every one ;) now let's all get along lol

Sidebar: how did you get a themed keyboard to work on iPhone 4? I'm JB, Verizon 4.2.6 & have tried bur WB won't (can't?) load the ones I've search turns up nothing on it

Honestly, I want this...blackberrys are the only phones that have cheap Internet packages in my country..I agree they lack apps, but in my time using it, I've found an all for everything I need...the messaging on these devices is perfect..but for almost as long as I've had a blackberry (almost 2 years) I've had an iPod touch to do everything except communication and messaging (1.5 years)...with the cheaper social plan, a bb and an ipt 4 are the perfect combination in my opinion, in fact right now I'm listening to music on my iPod and chatting on msn with my bb curve..I keep wishing I could get the best of both worlds in one device tho..maybe one day :)

Just switched to iphone4 from BB and I am hoping RIM develops a powerful phone to go back.
It is all about pros and cons, but I can not understand why apple do not let me use the memory in my iphone as a hard disk. Of course there is an app for that, but they only bypass the problem.
I also miss an attach file option when you write an e-mail (ok, you can do it when you open the file, but: what if you want to attach a file when you answer an e-mail? Or you want to attach several files from different folders?)
Why can not I manage my pictures, music and files unless I connect to that terrible itunes? You are not free to control your pics or music on the device, you need to plug it in the computer, it has been like that since the very first ipod...
If you want your iphone to be as functional as a BB you need to jailbreak, install a few tweaks, spring a reasonable amount of money for several apps...
On the other hand it is a cool, fast, reliable device...
Maybe android is the answer?

AMEN!!! Had the first Bold when it came out. Retired my 3G for it.
Really miss those functions. Sort of getting tired of the "magical experience" (i.e. - constantly connecting to a computer)to do simple tasks. I miss the days of snapping a pic, naming it, creating a album, and saving it ALL ON THE PHONE. I always said that the only thing it lacked was a touch screen. There was just too much clicking to get where you wanted to go. But now, this changes a lot. You only use the key board when you need it, and tap your way around. If #5 (or whatever it is called) is not a big, and I mean BIG leap from #4, BB will be another phone breathing down Apples' neck.

I was a long-time BB user (2007 to 2010), and I can say this: When it comes to physical hardware keyboards, RIM gets it right (usually). Even after my old BB 8320 (1st-gen Curve) was pathetically obsolete, I still hung onto it way longer than I thought I would, because its physical keyboard was nearly perfect. It was such an ergonomically sound design; so easy and comfortable for me to type on, even with my big hands. Had the keys been just a little larger, like on the BB 9000 (1st-gen Bold), I would've probably kept it even longer. I think of BBs as the AK-47s of the smartphone world; they may seem a bit crude by today's standards, but they're simple to "field-strip" (read: battery pull and remove/clean/re-install the trackball, if it has one), they're just about everywhere in the world, relatively cheap by smartphone standards, and amazingly durable; I took my 8320 everywhere - snow, sand, mud, rain, in all extremes of weather, dropped it countless times, and it still kept right on working. All I ever really had to do to it was take the trackball apart and clean it, and the occasional battery pull. So I think the BBs' durability and reliability make them a perfectly viable option, even nowadays. But after 2.5 years, my old 8320's cell radio stopped working, so I finally had to retire it from service. Plus I decided that I really wanted to try a touchscreen device. So I got an iPhone 4, and have been quite happy with it ever since. PEACE

@Ralph: LOL No, That's one thing I don't miss about my old BB 8320. That 2.5 inch screen started feeling really small after I started looking at other phones with much bigger, nicer screens, esp. after they started getting into the 4 inch and up realm (like my old HTC HD2 and my Samsung Vibrant, which I had after retired my BB, before finally settling on the iPhone 4). But I think anything bigger than the 4.3 inch phones would just be too big and unwieldy to use; in that case you might as well get a tablet of some sort. There's a practical limit on how big a phone's screen should be. I'd be really happy if Apple were to increase the next iPhone's screen size to 4 inches; that'd be just right.

Jake, I used to be on Crackbery but don't visit anymore since my iPhone. A free Blackberry is of no interest to me.

WHY does everyone see things as so black and white? I used BB and currently have iPhone. Both are nice phones. Just because you like one, does not mean the other is crap.
Competition is good. We do NOT want BB to go out of business or Android, W7, or anything else. Competition gives us choice and drives innovation.
For those saying WhatsApp is same as BBM. It's not. You have to use BBM to get it. I do miss BBM but there are things on iPhone that pushed me to favor it.
Each phone has its plus and minuses. It's up to you to choose which phone is right for you. Both are just tools but sadly, I think too many are using their phone more as a social status, image tooting, or selfworth inducing entity.

FYI. I had the Bold 9000 before my iPhone 4 and the "metal" band around the perimeter was not metal. It was plastic painted to look like metal. It looks like the new one will actually be real metal.

That was the one thing that made me hate the 9000... One of my friends had one, and it got chipped/scratched way too easily...

Too little, too late. I was a devoted blackberry user, just like I was a devoted Palm OS user. I switched to an iPhone 4 about two months ago after a lot of research and thought between it and an android phone. I think Blackberry waited too long to try and move forward with revising the OS. It really is a shame to see a market leader like Blackberry lose so much market share by not keeping up.The Apps on iPhone are so robust and fun to use, not to mention the ease of the app store. I find my iPhone being the go-to device and seldom booting my laptop. Competition is great and I hope Blackberry can challenge Apple with innovation and push things forward so we all have more innovation and choices.

BB is just trying to play catch up. How many failed touch screen devices do they have to go through before they call it quits? They are trash.