The Bold 9700 is a worthwhile upgrade for anyone using the older 9000 model as a smaller and lighter version, and is a very capable emailing device, but it's not as strong in mobile browsing.
Small and light; decent battery life.
Mobile browsing can be slow; over-sensitive trackpad.
£35 on a 24-month Vodafone contract
Research in Motion (RIM) recently launched updates to its main corporate emailer devices, the Bold and the Storm. As I'm a BlackBerry user anyway, I've been putting both devices through their paces to see which, if either, is worth upgrading to.
Firstly, the Bold 9700. Like the 9000 before it, the new model has Wi-Fi and GPS, but has double the Flash memory at 256MB.
I've been using the original Bold 9000 for over a year now, so was looking forward to testing out the new edition to see if any of the annoyances I've come across with the existing model are ironed out.
The 9700 is noticeably smaller and lighter than the 9000, and it retains the black casing and leatherette backing of the old model, giving it a business-like appearance.
According to RIM's specs, the 9000 is 114 x 66 x 15mm with a weight of 136g, while the new 9700 comes in at 109 x 60 x 14mm and 122g. Although only around a half centimetre separates the width and length of the two devices, what's great is that the keypad on both is about the same size. So with the 9700, you get a smaller, lighter device to carry around, but don't get stuck with smaller keys that are impossible to type on.
I found the new Bold offered the same typing experience as with my current edition; both have fairly small keys so errors do occur with thumbs slipping onto the wrong key every now and again, but you do get used to the keypad. It's fine for typing short text and email messages, though I certainly wouldn't advise its use for producing presentations or essays.
RIM has made a small improvement with text messaging, but one that I found quite useful. With the 9700, as soon as you open a text message, your cursor is hovering in an empty box at the bottom of the screen, ready to start typing a reply to the sender. With most devices, and the older Bold, you have to go back into the menu in order to compose a reply.
A more significant difference is the device navigation. The 9000 model has a trackball, which some users might find a bit cumbersome. This has been replaced with a trackpad on the 9700, which is great for moving around pages and applications but could sometimes be too sensitive. For example, although the new version makes it much quicker to scroll through lists of emails, I found myself opening an email by mistake through applying the slightest pressure on the trackpad.
RIM also said it has developed a brighter, higher resolution screen for the 9700, though I didn't notice much difference in my testing.