BlackBerry boldly beats 3G iPhone

Yardena Arar
13 May, 2008
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Amid swirling rumors about the impending announcement of a 3G iPhone, Research in Motion has introduced its slickest, speediest, most powerful, and most connected BlackBerry to date: the BlackBerry Bold 9000. Equipped with support for tri-band HSDPA and quad-band EDGE (which means that it will support the highest-speed GSM-family data networks wherever they are available worldwide — including Australia), 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth, and both assisted and autonomous GPS, the Bold could prove a formidable challenger to Apple’s next-gen iPhone on connectivity alone.

It even looks a bit iPhone-esque, with its glassy display area, generally flat profile, and rounded corners. Still, the Bold comes configured with a hardware QWERTY keyboard, and it retains the general dimensions of its predecessors, so it’s much shorter and somewhat thicker than the iPhone.

The Bold’s removable back is covered in black leatherette, and you’ll be able to personalise the device by buying replacement backs in different colors (blue, brown, green, grey, and red).

The redesigned keyboard has guitar-inspired frets — thin metal strips — between each row. The keys themselves are sculpted to help users avoid fingertip slippage. The device also carries a two-megapixel camera capable of up to 5X digital zoom.

Fast CPU, high-res display. The Bold’s 624MHz StrongARM processor with full MMX (multimedia extensions) is the most powerful CPU on a handheld to date (the BlackBerry Curve, in contrast, uses a 312MHz chip without MMX). The Bold’s extra power enables the device to handle full-motion video on its 480×320-pixel, 65,000-plus-colour display (that resolution is double the Curve’s at basically the same screen size).

Of course, little commercial video content is available as yet for portable media players, Apple’s or otherwise. Further, the Bold’s screen is diminutive compared to the current iPhone’s roomy 3.5-inch display, and it isn’t a touch screen. (RIM president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis simply smiled when we asked about reports that the company is working on a touch-screen BlackBerry).

But since the Bold’s smaller display holds the same number of pixels as the current iPhone’s, images look much higher-res on it than on its competitor.

The Bold’s 1GB of on-board secure memory (on top of its 128MB of flash) will appeal to BlackBerry’s core enterprise community, providing storage for items that companies would rather not make available for transport on a micro SD card. But users who want to carry their music and video libraries on their handsets will be able to do so via micro SD.

No information is yet available about which networks will carry the BlackBerry 9000 in Australia, or precisely when. RIM would only say that it "is scheduled to be available from wireless carriers around the world" in the next few months. Pricing, obviously, will be carrier-dependent.

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