Another BlackBerry out of RIM? We might as well consider them done and finished. Or should we? With a brand new take on BlackBerry hardware and an improved and enhanced operating system in BlackBerry 7, RIM hasnt been sitting still. I have been using a BlackBerry 9900 for over a week, and as a reformed BlackBerry addict, I have some thoughts on this latest flagship smartphone out of Waterloo. Is this the device thats going to save RIM? Is this the phone thats going to make iPhone and Android users switch to a BlackBerry? Can RIM finally compete in the smartphone arena? Will it take RIM 9 months to make a BlackBerry 9900 in white? Is Will.i.am going to haunt me for eternity?
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RIM is no stranger to the hardware game, having been major smartphone vendor to really control the entire end-to-end hardware and software experience. Every BlackBerry release seems to show a constant trait that RIM continues to improve its manufacturing capabilities and the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is no exception. In fact, this is the finest hardware ever to come out of Waterloo (or Mexico, or Holland, or wherever your phone is made). From the beautiful black fascia to the stainless steel bezel surrounding the top notch components, to the soft-touch finished, carbon-fiber-laced back cover, this is a BlackBerry that exudes quality, and one that any executive would be proud to have grace his or her desk. The high quality materials RIM is using on the BlackBerry 9900 are apparent, I only wish the company would have made the switch sooner. Its the first time metal has made an appearance instead of plastic, and its the first time I can remember a BlackBerry not feeling hollow, but feeling like a solid high-end product.
Starting on the front of the device, youll see a pure white color accent scheme for the first time ever even the send and end phone buttons are colorless, and it really works. While RIM isnt a company that is known for focusing on design identity, or even obsessing over little details, the company makes the personality of the Bold 9900 come alive, and it meshes beautifully. Even the symbols on the keyboard arent a different color (they used to be red), but this new straight-forward color palette really works for me.
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On the top of the phone youll find a screen lock/unlock button. On the right side theres a volume up button up top, a mute key in the middle and a volume down button all made out of metal, I might add. Below that youll find the camera shutter key. On the bottom of the phone youll see two charging contacts for compatibility with RIMs charging docks, which not only makes a great alarm clock stand, but also reduce wear and tear on the microUSB port. It would have been great to see RIM take this one step further and use a similar technology for USB syncing as well, though its not that big of a deal. On the left of the Bold 9900 youll find a microUSB port, and 3.5mm headset jack.
Something Id like to point out is that the thinness of the Bold 9900 is very competitive. At around 10mm thin, its impressive. For a device with a capacitive touch display, full size QWERTY keyboard the best in the business and technical specifications that bring the once stone-aged company into a near-competitive area, the Bold 9900 is an engineering feat, and one RIM should absolutely be proud of. Something RIM shouldnt be proud of? The fact that the company didnt include an autofocus camera in the Bold 9900. It would be comically funny if it werent a real sign of how RIM actually thinks who needs an autofocus camera when we can make the phone thinner!
The display on the BlackBerry 9900 is excellent. Its the first higher resolution device out of RIM, featuring a 640 x 480-pixel panel. While thats not up there with Retina and qHD displays, the 2.8-inch touch screen on the Bold 9900 looks absolutely beautiful. Its bright, its vivid, its crisp this is an amazing display. Touch sensitivity and performance on the 9900 is also excellent, with touches being recognized immediately, swipes performing correctly, and flick and pinch gestures working properly in the web browser. Its so good that it almost makes you forget that RIM is responsible for releasing the BlackBerry Storm. Almost.
RIM even went step further with outfitting all of its high-end devices with NFC capabilities, and even though the NFC functionality isnt being used in the Bold 9900 at release, the engineering that went into the effort hasnt gone unnoticed. The NFC chip is built into the battery cover with contacts that connect only when the cover it attached to the phone, and its just an ingenious integration; it makes you wonder why other manufacturers havent taken this approach.
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