Bold 9780 Hero

The new BlackBerry Bold 9780 has been available overseas for some time now but according to various Vodashop employees I asked, it won’t be available in South Africa until around June.

So, while I was in London, I bought myself one. And here is the first BlackBerry Bold 9780 hands on review in South Africa. I have been using it for a while now and I can tell you with absolute certainty this is the best phone BlackBerry has ever made.

From an aesthetic point of view not much has changed from the old Bold, the bezel is now black and it feels a little more solid but that’s about it. BlackBerry says that the keyboard has been tweaked slightly, but not having owned the old Bold I cant tell the difference.

On that note, the keyboard is superb, roughly 1billion times better than the one found on the BlackBerry Torch. This I can’t understand, they should be equivalent but the keyboard on the 9780 is clearly superior. It has great feedback and if you’re an experience BlackBerry user i.e. 15 years old, you can type away not looking at the keyboard once, with no mistakes.

The camera has been improved and is now on par with the competition (iPhone 4, HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S) with a lovely 5 megapixels.

The screen is equally fantastic; the resolution is spot on for reading text. This comes in particularly handy if you know anyone between the ages of 14-22, as BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) will occupy most of your day.

BBM and other acronyms will form part of your lexicon should you convert to BlackBerry. In first year varsity I had to do a subject called ‘Information Systems’ which consisted solely of learning acronyms like ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) and CBI (Command Based Interface) – this subject has proven to be rather useful. This is because people automatically think you are smarter the more acronyms you use. So here is a TechHuman Tip, if you’re a bit slow, and even if you are not, get a BlackBerry, people will immediately think you’re smarter.

Back to the review: The biggest improvement on the Bold 9780 is the implementation of the new OS BlackBerry OS 6. I did not like OS 6 on the Torch, it felt clunky, unpolished and all in all something that was about 3 years behind its time.

On the Bold 9780 OS 6 comes to life, it is simple, snappy and intuitive. The sliding menu system is involving and just downright interesting in a world of iOS folders and pages of menu items. In terms of connectivity, it tethers like a beauty, Facebook and Twitter notifications are categorized neatly in the top bar and emails are dealt with in style. The combined inbox (where all messages, from email to Twitter replies are found) is a very marmite feature; you either love it or hate it. I thought it was stupid; I found it made all your correspondence a mish-mush.

I do have one confession to make. Coming from the Torch, I kept on touching the screen attempting to swipe the menus left or right. This was somewhat embarrassing. The feel I get after some use of OS 6 is that is designed for a touch interface, attempting to move about with the trackpad works, but it is not efficient nor does it feel very natural. BlackBerry obviously realized this and rumor has it are working on a touch capable version of the Bold.

What OS 6 has done, and this is big, is made the Bold a much more stable device. Not once did it hang or did I have to remove the battery and hope for the best. This was a real pain with the old OS (OS 5) so, well done BlackBerry you achieved what Nokia did in 2001, in other words – It’s about time!

In terms of services, the R69 per month deal for BIS (BlackBerry Internet Services) is becoming less appealing with the launch or Red Bull Mobile in South Africa, it is almost a certainty the other networks will respond to this. Also, in my opinion Android and iOS handle the more popular email providers far better than BlackBerry. I use Gmail’s; email, contacts and calendar sync. This is setup on the iPhone in two seconds and never gives issues. It’s even better on Android (as both Gmail and Android are Google products) However, on BlackBerry OS 6 I had endless issues setting it up and after the painful setup it ran as smoothly as sandpaper, forever messing up contact syncing and only displaying certain calendar events.

That said overall, I enjoyed the Bold 9780, it is the best phone BlackBerry make. It feels well built, I didn’t have to take the battery out a million times, I felt cool with BBM and OS 6 bring the BlackBerry interface into this century. That said, I would not buy one, the iPhone 4 I feel is a superior device – it is better built, has a bigger screen, a much smoother OS and a superior camera.

The main issue is by the time it comes out in South Africa in June there will be a plethora of new Android and (believe it or not) Windows Phone 7 devices not to mention the iPhone 5, which, if WMC 2011 was anything to go by will utterly, trash this little fruit. If however you can’t live without your daily dose of Blackberry and BBM, this one, the Bold 9780, is definitely the one to get.

BlackBerry Bold 9780 Interactive Demo

Spesifications & Avalibility

Connectivity

WiFi – 802.11b/g

GPS 3G – HSPDA

Bluetooth 2.0

Camera

5 MP

2X digital zoom

Video recording

Flash

Media Player

Video formats: MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile, H.263, WMV

Audio formats: MP3, MIDI, AMR-NB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA

Screen

480×360 pixel color display

Light Reflective [It works in the sun]

Battery

Talk time: Up to 6 hours (GSM or UMTS)

Standby time: Up to 22 days/528 hours (GSM), up to 17 days/408 hours (UMTS)

Music playback time: Up to 36 hours

Memory

512 MB onboard memory

2 GB media card included – Expandable

Availability

Currently not available on contract in South Africa

Launched March 7 on Vodacom – MTN has not responded as of yet.

Can be bought online through Expancys – R5 500

If you have a mate in the UK from Vodafone – roughly R4 000

Brendon AmbroseManaging Editor | About Me – Scared of: Clowns, spiders and Hilary Clinton; Dream Wing Man: Jacob Zuma; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for Gadget.co.za; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook

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