BlackBerry Gets 'Bold' With New High-End 3G Smartphone
Andrew R. Hickey
Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) on Monday unveiled the BlackBerry Bold 9000, a new high-end smartphone the mobile device maker is billing as elegant and dramatic, that runs on third-generation (3G) networks.
With the Bold, BlackBerry is the latest device-maker to beat the Apple iPhone to the 3G punch. And last week, smartphone rival HTC unveiled the Touch Diamond, a touch-screen device similar to the iPhone which also runs on 3G networks. Researchers have predicted that Apple could have a 3G iPhone available this summer, but Apple has yet to announce firm plans to take the iPhone into the third-generation.
The Bold marks the first BlackBerry to support tri-band HSDPA 3G high-speed networks worldwide and integrates GPS and Wi-Fi along with recent multimedia capabilities Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM has made a staple in its devices while phasing out the clunky brick-style smartphones of just a few years ago. The tri-band HSDPA and quad-band EDGE support enable global roaming.
In a statement, RIM Co-CEO and president Mike Lazaridis said "the new BlackBerry Bold represents a tremendous step forward in business-grade smartphones and lives up to its name with incredible speed, power and functionality all wrapped in a beautiful and confident design."
RIM is banking on the BlackBerry Bold's sleek appearance to win over executives and field workers who've grown tired of sacrificing style for functionality. The Bold features a black exterior, a satin chrome finish frame and a leather-like backplate along with a newly designed full QWERTY keyboard. RIM is calling the BlackBerry Bold "a symbol of accomplishment and aspiration."
While pricing has not yet been revealed, RIM said the BlackBerry Bold will be available from most major wireless carriers come summer.
Along with support for tri-band HSDPA networks, the bold supports enterprise-grade 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi networks enabling use in the enterprise or in campuswide wireless LAN deployments, Wi-Fi hotspots or on wireless networks at home. RIM has added a new "Push Button Setup" for users to quickly connect to protected wireless networks that require a sign on process. And like many smartphone manufacturers, RIM has integrated GPS, which lets the BlackBerry Bold pinpoint its exact location and support applications like BlackBerry maps and other location-based services.
The BlackBerry Bold features a 624 MHz mobile processor to speed up email attachment downloading and support streaming video and faster Web browsing. The Bold also offers 128 MB of flash memory and 1 GB on-board storage memory. For additional storage, the device features a microSD/SDHC memory card slot accessible from a side door.
The Bold also comes standard with BlackBerry applications like phone, email, messaging, organizer and browser and works with a host of third-party mobile business and lifestyle applications. And to shake the stigma of not being able to work in applications and talk at the same time, the bold has been designed to enable users to talk on the phone while also sending and receiving email or accessing the Web. Users can also download many commonly used files, such as Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint and edit them on the handset using a pre-loaded DataViz Documents to Go suite.
NEXT: More 'Bold' New Features
Recognizing that mobile email and messaging is its bread and butter, RIM's BlackBerry Bold integrates with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for security and IT administration within several email environments like IBM Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange and Novel GroupWise. The device can also work with BlackBerry Professional Software for SMBs; with BlackBerry Internet Service, which gives users access to 10 work or personal email accounts, including many popular ISP email accounts; and BlackBerry Unite software for SOHO and home users.
BlackBerry also gave the Bold a new display, which BlackBerry said is it's most "vivid and bold" yet. The device features a half-VGA (480 by 320 resolution) color LCD which is fused to the undersurface of the lens to improve definition and clarity when playing videos, surfing the Web and viewing documents, presentations and messages.
The enhanced display also helps the device mimic the desktop when it comes to viewing Web pages. A trackball can be used as a mouse making for easier navigation, which includes "Page View" or "Column View." Users can also zoom in on specific parts of a Web page and emulation settings let users pick whether they want to view sites in full desktop-style HTML and layout or in the mobile version. Attachments can also be downloaded from within the browser and streaming video is supported through real-time streaming protocol (RTSP).
Like BlackBerry first did with the Pearl two years ago, and the Curve a bit later, the Bold blends both business and personal needs with a set of rich multimedia applications. The Bold offers a two megapixel camera with video recording, a built-in flash and five times digital zoom. The Bold's enhanced media player can display pictures and slideshows, play movies in full screen mode and manage music collections. Additionally, audio can be heard through the handset's dual speakers in stereo sound or when using wired headphones or external speakers, and the media player gives the user an equalizer with 11 preset filters to suite which kind of music they're playing, with setting such as lounge, jazz or hip hop.
The BlackBerry Desktop Manger software also includes Roxio Media Manager for BlackBerry and Roxio Photosuite 9 LE, tools that let users manage music and video and enhance pictures and create photo albums. The new BlackBerry Media Sync applications lets users integrate their Apple iTunes digital music with the Bold and support for High Speed USB 2.0 enables the transferring of files from the desktop to the Bold.
Additional features of the Bold include a new acoustic design that boosts the phone's audio and improves listening quality and clarity. It also comes with several of BlackBerry's premium phone features like Speaker Independent Voice Recognition (SIVR) for Voice Activated Dialing (VAD) and Bluetooth 2.0 with support for hands-free headsets, stereo headsets, car kids and other Bluetooth peripherals. It also features dedicated send, end and mute keys; smart dialing; speed dialing; conference calling; call forwarding.; noise cancellation technology that offsets background noise; speaker phone; and support for polyphonic, mp3 and MIDI ring tones.