BlackBerry Bold is the BMW of smart phones
Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business
October 7-13, 2008; issue 989
High Tech Office column
The summer release of Apple’s
iPhone in Canada got most of the attention, but other smart-phone
manufacturers haven’t just rolled over and surrendered. Ontario-based
Research in Motion upped the ante on its business-friendly BlackBerry
series with the release of its most powerful model, the BlackBerry Bold
9000. Reversing typical product launches, where Canadians often wait
and watch while new technology debuts in the U.S., the Bold is
initially available only in Canada, from Rogers/Fido.
glance, the Bold looks a lot like RIM’s 8300 Curve models, sporting a
full QWERTY keyboard, unlike RIM’s Pearl models with their phone-like
keypad or touch screen models like the iPhone that offer a virtual
keyboard on a larger screen. Slightly larger than the Curve, the Bold’s
screen offers double the resolution – 320 x 480 pixels – which is the
same number as the iPhone, though packed into less space. The screen is
very crisp, with brightness that responds to outside light levels. The
downside: it can sharply display text that’s too small to read.
processor is twice the speed of the Curve’s as well, handling the
increased screen size with ease. The Bold starts up and runs quickly.
Like the Curve (and unlike the iPhone), there’s removable storage. And
unlike the Curve, you can access it from a slot on the side – no need
to open it up and remove the battery to get at the microSD card. One
gigabyte of onboard storage is built-in, with additional microSD easily
added. Also unlike the iPhone, it has a removable (and
Like other BlackBerry models, users
can sync contacts, calendars and tasks with Windows and Mac systems and
can connect to corporate e-mail, supporting multiple e-mail accounts.
DataViz Documents To Go software is included to display and edit Word,
Excel and PowerPoint documents. (To create new Office-format documents,
users will need to upgrade to DataViz’s $70 Premium version.)
not a fan of RIM’s web browser. I prefer the Opera Mini browser – a
free download from Opera’s website – but neither are as usable as the
iPhone’s Safari browser. The Bold includes 802.11 WiFi wireless,
allowing faster Internet connections without eating into your Rogers
data plan. Built-in GPS, which works with the included BlackBerry Maps
application, for no added-cost location and driving directions, (but
not voice prompts, which require an additional $10/month service from
Like other recent BlackBerry models, the Bold includes
multimedia support. There are built-in stereo speakers and support for
Bluetooth wireless stereo headphones. Media Sync software connects with
Mac or Windows iTunes playlists, which allows users to import
iPod-style music and video files. The Bold includes a two-megapixel
camera and can use the built-in GPS to add location information to
snapshots. You can easily e-mail photos or send them to Facebook.
Unlike the iPhone, you can also shoot video clips.
latest iPhone release promises support for business-friendly Windows
Exchange servers, enterprise IT departments have been generally
underwhelmed with Apple’s management tools. RIM’s products remain
best-of-class for working with corporate e-mail systems. And while I
prefer the iPhone’s web browser, for typing anything more than a few
words, the Bold’s physical keyboard is my clear favourite over the
iPhone’s virtual one.
iPhone versus BlackBerry? The short
answer: if you expect to do more web browsing than e-mail, the iPhone
may be your best choice. But if e-mail is what’s pushing you toward a
smart phone, and particularly if you want to connect to a corporate
e-mail server, BlackBerry remains the way to go. And the new BlackBerry
Bold is the BMW of Blackberries.
The downside: the Bold is
priced like the BMW of smart phones. The BlackBerry Bold 9000 costs
$400 with a Rogers contract, double the $199 cost of an iPhone. (The
older BlackBerry Curve can cost as little as $149 with plan.) Without a
plan, the Bold will set you back $650. •