It was time for an upgrade from my old mobile phone to a new one, and I spent a whole month trying to decide which new phone to buy. I soon narrowed it down to a BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the Nokia E71 - both, I was told, are "fantastic phones", and after having a play with the BlackBerry Bold and Nokia E71 in a phone shop, I quickly knew BlackBerry Bold was for me, and I ordered it the very same day.
BlackBerry's have been popular for a while now, and I was eager to know why. They are known for being the phone for business people; however, I don't think this phone should be restricted to that band of people alone. I will use mine for both business and personal use and so far it has worked well for both work and pleasure.
Just in case you're curious, I bought my BlackBerry Bold 9000 from Vodafone. I have been with Vodafone for a while, and managed to get 600 minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited Internet and E-mail for £30 per month.
Delivery, And In The Box
I ordered the BlackBerry Bold on a Friday evening, and it arrived on Monday afternoon. Most company's do "Next Day Delivery", but only if you order the phone in the morning, and therefore I had what felt like a long time to wait for my phone to arrive! However, when it did come, it was well worth the wait. It arrived in a smart looking black box, which included the phone, CD, start-guide, leather pouch, USB cable (you can charge the BlackBerry Bold on your PC/laptop), phone charger (with plugs which can be used around the world) and some headphones.
BlackBerry Bold's Appearance
I am more than happy with how the BB Bold looks. It's quite big, but I don't personally understand the fascination some people have with having a tiny phone. For me, having a slightly larger phone with a crisp screen and easy to use keypad is the most important! The Bold is "split in half" - the screen covers the top half of the phone, and the QWERTY keypad covers the bottom half. A metal edge covers the sides of the BB, which I think looks very smart, and faux leather covers the back of the phone. Some people absolutely hate the faux leather back, but I think it looks good, and personally am pleased it's not going to be covered in scratches easily. I have ordered some screen protectors for mine off the Internet (eBay), but to keep it scratch-free, just keep it in the leather pouch it comes with. I love the pouch, and am pleased it came with the product, and wasn't something customers needed to pay extra for. Once I'd inserted my Sim card, the BB Bold switched on straight away, and was quick to load up. The battery had enough power already on it for me to have a little play, and I was surprised and pleased with the brightness of the screen. Holding it against my old Sony Ericsson W910i, the BB Bold looked so much more superior. The track-ball lights up bright white, as do the letters on the QWERTY keyboard. I think this makes the BB Bold look sophisticated and stylish - much better looking than a tacky orange colour, for example. The 2.0 mega-pixel camera can be found on the back of the handset (more about the camera later!).
I actually have to admit I find the BlackBerry Bold complicated to use. I'm not used to Smartphones and it is certainly taking a while to get used to! The track-ball is very sensitive and easy to use - I personally love it, as it makes getting around the menu easier and quicker, too. This phone DOES NOT HAVE A TOUCH SCREEN - you use the track-ball to navigate yourself around the phone. Despite just saying it's fairly complicated to use, I managed to get the hang of what to do pretty quickly. I mainly use this phone for text messaging, calling, putting appointments in the calendar and checking e-mails, and I learned how to do those things in next to no time at all (as will other experienced mobile phone users). However...it then gets complicated (in my opinion) when you start wanting to edit Microsoft Word documents etc! I will go on to these things later on in the review. The full QWERTY keyboard is surprisingly easy to use. I love it - I was very, very hesitant at first, as I am a quick typer on the "old style" keypads, but as soon as I started texting on the QWERTY keyboard, I managed to get the hang of it straight away. The Bold fits perfectly in my hand which makes it easy to text on - I had heard it was 'too bulky' to text on properly, but I promise that's not true! The buttons are raised and raised slightly on the corner of each button which makes it simple to type and even though I make errors whilst typing, I can pretty much type out a 3 page text message easily enough without making more than 2 or 3 mistakes! I used to use 'predictive text' on my old phone and thought that was easy, but this is so much better (BlackBerry Bold also has a spell check, so you can even check if you've spelt anything incorrectly before sending the text if you so wish).
THE BLACKBERRY BOLD 9000 MENU
My menu consists of:
- SMS and MMS
- Vodafone Live!
- Instant Messaging
- Turn Power Off
- Keyboard Lock
- Manage Connections. Now, I'll go through each one...
SMS and MMS
This is a crucial part for most people on a mobile phone - I can text my girlfriend/Mum in a couple of minutes instead of calling them if I'm busy/they're busy...we all know the benefits of SMS and I needn't go on about its advantages. Sending texts is easy on this phone - the QWERTY keyboard is simple to use, the keys are large enough so you know you've pressed the right one, and I like the fact text messages between you and another person will show as a 'running conversation'. For example if I text my girlfriend, and she texts back, it'll show on the same screen the messages sent to and fro between us. This is helpful if I've forgotten what I'd previously texted! When you receive a text message, the phone will obviously let you know by a ringtone (you can change these), vibration, and there is an LED light which flashes at the top of the BlackBerry. I love this feature. When my phone is in its leather pouch and I see the top of it flashing, I know I've got a text, even if I haven't heard the phone go off, or even if it's on silent. You can also choose simply which number you want to text to - e.g. I can text my Mum's personal mobile or her work mobile. It's simple, quick, and easy to get the hang of.
Now, I'm a little confused about this. When you click on Messages, it is exactly the same as the SMS & MMS menu. However, when I receive texts, I only receive them in my SMS & MMS menu, and not under my Messages menu (hope this isn't confusing you too much!). I am assuming that when you receive an e-mail to your BlackBerry, it will be found under this Messages menu, but for me right now, I don't use the Messages part of the phone. As I said earlier, I decided not to pay extra for the BlackBerry e-mail services etc...not because I'm mean with money, but because the guy I spoke to on the phone said it was only useful for hardcore business people and I could easily do without it. Now, I'm not a "hardcore" business person, but I do need my e-mails, and this has posed a slight problem in the sense I now have to go onto the Internet on my phone and access my emails that way (by logging on to hotmail, yahoo etc) which isn't a HUGE problem but a little time-consuming, and I'm also having problems opening attachments that way.
The BB Bold has a 2 mega-pixel camera, which in all honesty isn't really good enough. I have heard of a new Nokia with an 8 mega-pixel camera, HOWEVER I didn't buy this phone to use it to take loads of pictures with. If you're wanting a phone so you can take thousands of crystal clear photos with it then look elsewhere, because you are probably not going to be too impressed with the BB's camera. However, like I said, to me, the camera feature isn't going to be used TOO much...I'd rather just take pictures with my digital camera, but for 'quick photos' I will use this. A button on the side of the BB takes you straight to the camera (or you can access it by going to the menu), and it has zoom and flash for when you're taking pictures in low-light, but it's nothing to write home about, I'm afraid. If you're comparing this phone to the iPhone, then the iPhone doesn't do any better - that's only 2 mega-pixels, too. The BB also has Video recording, so you can record videos on this, too.
The clock tells you the time, the date, and the day. I know I shouldn't really get excited over a clock function but this is useful - you can set your phone to 'Bedside Mode'. The BlackBerry Bold's 'lights' stay on when you charge the phone, which can be annoying if you're charging it overnight and can see the light in the corner of your eye whilst you're trying to sleep. Switch it to 'Bedside Mode' and the light will go almost off, saving battery if it's not on charge. You can set your alarm, and can even set it to 'weekdays', where it'll wake you up each weekday at the same time. There's a stopwatch and a timer, too, and you can change the sound of the alarm, how many vibrations you want the alarm to have, etc etc. I use this almost every day to get up - the alarm is loud and I set it to "weekdays" so I know it's always going to wake me up and I won't sleep in!
A crucial feature for me. Some people don't use the calendars at all, but I love them, and if you need to organise when you need to see clients and suchlike, it can be a very useful and helpful device, and can replace your personal organiser. This calendar is the best I've ever used on a mobile phone. You can input all your appointments, state how long they will last for, include reminders (e.g. your phone will alert you 30mins before appointment starts) and you can include notes as well, e.g. 'This client needs to bring proof of identity'. I also like the 'View Agenda' option, where you can see what your day/month holds for you, and it tells you when your free time will occur. All in all, a great feature, and one I use frequently.
Holds all of your contacts - you can include their name, surname, picture, company, their job title, their email, their work numbers, their personal numbers, their home numbers, their pager, their fax number, their addresses (work and home), their birthday, your anniversary, their webpages...again, 'contacts' is a feature you'll definitely use, and is simple to operate. However, I took my contacts from my Sim to this phone and it copied them incorrectly and I had to go through the contacts on this phone to edit their names and telephone numbers, but I don't think that was a fault of the BlackBerry's, perhaps it was just a Sim error I made.
BROWSER & VODAFONE LIVE!
You can browse the Internet, and because I get it free and unlimited, I use it quite a lot. The Bold is known for being the quickest out of the BlackBerry range and I have to say it is rather speedy and webpages look clear. However, my only gripe is that navigating around a webpage is quite tricky with the track-ball. It isn't unresponsive, but it just takes a while to move the track-ball to where you want it to go to. Not a big problem, but can be quite time-consuming. As for battery life when browsing the Internet, the battery is great and with heavy Internet use the battery life doesn't decrease too much. It connects well to Wi-Fi hotspots and I'm in a 3G area and to go through websites is easily done. However, as I said earlier, trying to retrieve attachments through hotmail is near impossible. I am still trying to work it out and will post if I learn how to do it! Overall, though, I'm impressed with the Internet.
I didn't buy the BB Bold for it to be a music player - I have an iPod which I use to put music on and listen to, but I thought I'd add a few tracks to the BB to see how well the songs played. I was very impressed. I plugged the BB Bold into my laptop via the USB cable, and transferred three tracks from my iTunes into the 'Music' folder, and disconnected via the USB cable. Then, I went to the Music section on my BB, the songs were there, they displayed the artwork and played very, very clearly (through both the headphones and without). The sound is very crisp, very clear, and even though I wouldn't replace my iPod with it, there's no reason why you can't. I don't know how many songs exactly the BB will hold, but I imagine a lot, so if you want a great music player on your phone, this is perfect for you. It also has playlist options, so you could make a playlist for when going to the gym, for example. It's similar to an iPod also in the way you can shuffle songs and listen to songs listed by their genre. A great feature, but to be honest, something I will rarely use.
I think this feature is quite fun but personally something I won't use! You can search for text within your messages. For example, if you want to find the word "house" within your text messages, just type it in, and the BB will find which messages you've received which contain the word 'house'. It will also find the words within contacts, calendars, notes etc if you want it to.
This is like a mini help guide on your phone which is pretty useful if you're stuck over something minor. It will help you figure out shortcuts (although I can't get these to work on mine, maybe I'm doing it wrong!), help with attachments, help with the camera, your memos etc. It's useful and I find myself referring to it every now and again.
Here you will find your music, your videos, ring tones, pictures, and voice notes. When clicking on voice notes, you can record yourself speaking, or someone else speaking, for example. You can even send what you record to others. Under video, there are a couple of video clips featuring cars, and then a music video by Delta Goodrem which has been added by BlackBerry. The video playback is really, really good - the picture quality and the sound quality are both fantastic, and on the wide screen they look brilliant.
This looks to me, quite confusing. You can connect to other people who have a BlackBerry and talk to them by Instant Messenger, but really, I'd just prefer to call them. Plus, despite BlackBerry's being popular, there are also a lot of people who opt for other phones such as iPhones, and other business-like phones such as the Nokia E71, therefore maybe only so many of your contacts have a BlackBerry. Still, it could be a useful feature for some, and I think it's pretty clever, but I won't be using it.
Here you can:
- Add Memo's
- Use the calculator
- Use Word To Go
- Use Sheet To Go
- Use SlideShow To Go
- Access the Video Camera
- Use the Voice Notes Recorder
- Voice Dialing
- Password Keeper
- Look at your Saved Messages.
With the 'Add Memos', here you could quickly type something in - someone's house number, for example. I have occasionally used the memo to write my shopping list! Add a task, and it'll ask you whether it is high priority, when it needs to be done by, and you can also set reminders. This could be useful for a student who needs to remember when to hand in coursework!
Word To Go is where you can edit Microsoft Word documents. You can email them to yourself, edit them, and email them to others. I personally use the USB to load my Microsoft Word documents onto my BlackBerry, then I edit them while I'm out and about, save them, and then load the document back onto my laptop. You get a 'Standard edition' with your BlackBerry purchase, but you can buy a better one off the actual handset by clicking 'buy' when asked. However, I'm Ok with it how it is, so doubt I'll be upgrading this feature, but some might decide they want it to be a little better. I haven't used Sheet To Go or Slideshow To Go yet, but I imagine these will be VERY useful for those of you who use slideshows during meetings, as you can edit them whilst on the train to work, for example. It might even be useful for students who want to edit their homework/coursework whilst on the go! Voice dialing is a great feature but I don't use it, as I'm always too afraid I'll calls someone by accident! Password Keeper enables you to set passwords for your BlackBerry, but I haven't set any (yet), and the Saved Messages folder allows you to keep messages which are very important and need keeping, perhaps for future purposes.
There are five games on the BlackBerry Bold - BrickBreaker, Word Mole, Texas Hold'Em King 2, Sudoku, and Klondike. I like the fact BlackBerry have added games to the phone, because they are great boredom busters. I play frequently with Word Mole and Sudoku, and find the battery power lasts well.
I am yet to download anything to the BlackBerry device; however, I'm assuming this is where you'll find all your downloaded music, pictures, applications.
Here is where you can set up your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. You can also start the Setup Wizard to get help with typing tutorials, E-mail setup...you can even change your font. I think this is a great feature; personally, I keep my BlackBerry Font in standard 'BBAlpha Sans' (default font), but you can change it to a more relaxed style, and you can also make the writing larger if you have trouble with your eyesight.
For me, this is probably the most confusing part of the phone. If you are new to mobile phones altogether, then a 'profile' is where you can choose how loud to have your ringtone, whether you want your phone to vibrate or not, and you can create and edit lots of profiles so your phone will not go off when you're in a meeting, for example. Now, after getting my partner to phone me on my phone to test it out, I was annoyed that when the BlackBerry is in its leather pouch, it only rings once when someone is calling me. It vibrates, but the vibration isn't strong enough to be barely felt, let alone heard. Yet when the BlackBerry was out of its pouch, it would carry on ringing until I picked it up. When it was inside its pouch, it was still ringing, but as I said you would only hear the ringtone for a quick 2 seconds. I have tried, but I'm not sure there's any way of changing this. It's perfectly fine when it's out of the leather pouch, but when it is inside it, it makes a noise once and then simply stops alerting you. Maybe there's a way to fix it and I'm going wrong somewhere, but I've taken to keeping the phone out of its pouch to ensure if someone calls me I don't miss their call, but I don't like to keep it unprotected. Apparently there is a 'sensor' within the leather pouch which lets the BlackBerry know it is inside the pouch, which I find is really clever, but to be honest, a bit annoying too. There are plenty of ringtone choices (although I just stick with a 'normal' ringtone) and you can of course download ringtones to use. The volume is very, very loud (if you want it to be) and the vibration is moderate. You can also turn off the LED flashing light here (a light which flashes at the top of the phone to alert you to a missed call/text message), but I like that feature.
TURN POWER OFF
This is quite a clever feature, as this allows you to tell the phone what time you want it to switch off. I don't use it, because I like to keep my phone on just about all the time so I'm always contactable, but turning it off saves energy and battery power, so your phone will last longer between charges.
Press this and your keyboard will 'lock', meaning your BlackBerry won't randomly begin calling people/sending text messages/connecting to the Internet when you don't want it to. I use this all the time, however there is an easier way to 'lock' the keys - simply hold down the letter A. When you need to use the device again, press A and the green call key. It's simple.
Here you can change the date/time, Bluetooth, look at your memory, set yourself as the device's owner, change the screen settings (make it brighter/dimmer to conserve battery power), check how much battery power your BB has left (mine's currently at 95%, and it's been off charge since around 7.30am this morning, and has been used throughout the day to text/call/use the Internet briefly), change your mobile phone's theme (there are 2 themes preloaded on my BlackBerry, although you can download more themes if you wish), and also options to change spellchecker settings, for example.
Here you can:
- Switch on your Wi-Fi
- Switch on Bluetooth
- Set-up Wi-Fi Network
- Set up Bluetooth
I would advise to turn these off when you're not using them, as having Wi-Fi on has left some BB owners quickly being drained of battery power. I don't have mine switched on unless absolutely necessary. I have transferred a few photographs by Bluetooth to another phone and it was quite slow, which I was disappointed with, but at other times the Bluetooth has been speedy, so it's not much of a problem.
I have only had this phone for a very short time; however, I have to say I am very, very pleased with it. There are a few minor aggreivances with the phone, but I have found it to be more than good enough for what I need it for. Here are, in my opinion, the BEST points about the phone:
- The clarity of sound whilst on the phone: I can hear others well, and others can hear me. I can use this phone in my car (with a hands free kit, of course) and have perfectly clear conversations with others. It's loud enough, doesn't break up or cut off half-way through speaking.
- The QWERTY keypad: as I've previously said, the QWERTY keyboard is VERY easy to use. I love it - it even adds apostrophes for you, e.g. if you just type 'dont' it'll automatically change it to 'don't'. It might seem a bit trivial to mention, but is a god-send if you're banging out a text message as quick as you can, but still like to use proper English whilst texting, like myself.
- The battery: the power of the battery is great. Admittedly, I have had to charge it up each day, but that's because I use the phone heavily, and it is constantly kept turned on. I have never had the battery at its lowest point - I just keep 'topping it up', so really, I assume the battery would last about 3 days after a full charge. I also like how you can charge the phone via USB, so if you're at work you can plug it into your laptop/PC and let it charge up.
- The screen: the brightness of it is fantastic. It's a great-looking phone, and the clarity of the screen makes it look even better. Sharp, crystal-clear images look great on the big screen.
- Navigation: it's easy to find your way around the BlackBerry Bold, once you get used to knowing where things are! I especially like the track-ball - it's sensitive, but not TOO sensitive, so it's simple to operate. Touch-screens are becoming very popular, but with some touch screens they are a bit 'uncontrollable', as sometimes it is difficult to make them do exactly what you want them to do! I also like the feel of the track-ball.
- Quick Internet: very speedy, pages load up quickly, nice wide screen to view the webpages on.
- Music: as I said before, the sound of the music is crystal clear and very impressive, even when you have it playing out of the phone's speakers. Looks very much like an iPod - you can view the album art work and access songs by their genre, and make playlists.
- Accessories: being a BlackBerry, there are LOADS of accessories out there. Lots of screen protectors, cases, in-car accessories to make having a BlackBerry Bold even better!
- Calendar: has lots of great features and is easy to use.
- Games: you get five free games...better than some phones which come with none at all.
- BlackBerry App World: here you can download 'apps' for your BlackBerry, in a similar way you can for your iPhone. This clearly has it's positives - you can put more games on it, make it more 'yours'...but there is the downside that I can't actually seem to use it, because apparently my BlackBerry doesn't match their "system requirements"...I'll report back if it changes!
- Plug Adapters: in the box comes an English plug adapter, one for the USA, and one for Europe, so you can take these on holiday/on business trips, so you're never without your BB.
Despite being overall a great phone in my opinion, there are some inevitable downsides to the handset:
- BlackBerry App World: I can't access it! Don't know why, but my device doesn't meet their system requirements. So right now I can't download any apps, even if I wanted to.
- The camera: I didn't buy the BB to take photographs with, but in 2009 surely we should have better cameras on ALL phones than 2 mega pixel ones?! Phones have 5 mega pixel cameras nowadays and even 8 mega-pixel ones...being a BlackBerry, and therefore a 'superior' phone, I think its camera should be better, despite the fact it was first made to be a business phone (and still is used largely within that sector). Then again, the iPhone's camera is still only a 2 mega-pixel one, so maybe BlackBerry just don't regard it as an important feature, but with websites such as Facebook where people are taking photos constantly, you'd think the cameras would be better.
- Headphone socket: you need to insert your headphones into the side of the BlackBerry. Personally, I would have preferred the headphones to have been inserted in the top or the bottom of the BlackBerry - at the side, it's just a bit awkward. But it's no real big problem, especially not for me, as I won't be using it for music purposes.
- Transferring files: a CD comes with the BlackBerry which basically loads its media centre onto your PC/laptop. I have used iTunes for a few years now, and occasionally use Windows Media Player, and have had no problems with using them at all, but for some reason this one just confuses me! I much prefer to just go to 'My Computer', open the folders and just drag music into it from iTunes that way! It's much simpler, especially if you don't want your WHOLE iTunes music collection to go on your BlackBerry. You can also 'drag and drop' Microsoft Word documents too, instead of doing the more complicated version of using their software.
- Shortcuts: I have seen shortcuts to access things on BlackBerry's website and on forums etc but for some reason, pressing a certain key on the keypad doesn't do what it's meant to do! It can be quite annoying seeing you've got a new message and having to go to your menu to open it rather than it just coming straight up on the screen, but I don't know of a shortcut to access it easier! The only one that seems to work is the one to lock the keypad (holding down the letter A).
- Usability: it's quite complicated to use. Usually, when you get a new phone, it takes a couple of hours to literally know how to use it, or to atleast 100% know how to complete simple tasks such as sending a text message or accessing the Internet. The BlackBerry is a lot different to any other phone I've used and it IS quite hard to remember how exactly to do things, but I DID still manage to pick it up fairly quickly, and now I've had it a few days it's become much easier.
Overall, I love my BlackBerry Bold, and I'm totally confident I made the right choice when choosing my new phone. This phone has so much to offer, and is perfect if you're in the business sector, or even if you aren't. If you have a busy lifestyle, it's like your own organiser, or then again you can just use it to text and call off - it doesn't matter, it's still a great phone. It's quick, responsive, and it's reliable - it doesn't just shut down and turn off, or cut off during calls. I think the phone looks so good - as I've previously said, it's bright with a clear screen, and is definitely something that catches your eye. It sits nicely in the hand and is easy to bang out text messages with, as well as sits nicely in the hand during a call.
I have this phone on an 18-month contract, but I will definitely upgrade to another BlackBerry after the contract has ended (if I'm still pleased with the product then, of course!). I'll make sure I update this review if I experience any changes and will update it sometime down the line anyway to make sure it's up-to-date.
Thank you for reading this review and hope it helped somewhat. Have a good day!