The Blackberry 9780 is the first Bold handset to use Blackberry 6. The latest update to RIM's operating system is move away from the rigid and static OS of old, towards something more fluid in a market where Apple iOS and Android 2.2 are winning fans.
After using the Bold 9780 for a while though, it’s clear that this is a minor update. Very welcome, but unlikely to have Bold 9700 users rushing to break their contracts.
With the exception of a dark ring around the edge the handset looks virtually identical to the previous Bold and that’s about it. Although with a phone as distinct as the Bold, RIM was never going move too far from its formula.
The Bold doesn’t have a touchscreen, so you navigate using the square touch sensitive-trackpad. Once you get used to it, scrolling up and down web pages is fairly quick, but if you’ve come from a touchscreen at first it’s hard not to jab the screen, although regular Bold users won’t have this problem.
Build quality is solid and reassuring, with dedicated volume buttons on the side. One thing we aren’t a big fan of is the position of the voice-activation button on the side, despite using the handset for several weeks; we accidentally pressed it on a daily basis.
Blackberry Bold 9780: Blackberry OS 6
Blackberry OS 6 has five screens: All, Favourites, Media, Download and Frequent, which appear as a strip along the bottom of the screen. Move through them by flicking the touchpad, and click it to expand and shut each menu.
Our first experience of OS6 was in the Torch and we have to say a touchscreen suits the interface better, for instance you can’t just drag an icon to move it, and you have to press down until a menu pops up, which seems a bit laborious. Although again, this won’t be an issue for regular Bold users.
The interface isn’t as flexible as other OS’s, with only the Favourites screen customisable, and with other applications, web shortcuts or favourite contacts. However, you can move applications and programs around their screens and organise them into folders.
The most notable change to the Bold 9780 is the browser, the screen is still a bit small compared to the Blackberry Torch or HTC Desire Z, but it’s fine for checking the latest headlines. Navigate up and down using the trackpad, zoom via the menu or when the browser icon turns into a magnifying glass.
One of the most notable new additions is Tabbed Browsing. Select ‘Tabs’ from the main menu to view a sequence of thumbnails for each screen open, use the trackpad to quickly swap between and shut them down. It’s certainly quick and certainly speeds up the experience if you’re one of those people who has multiple browser windows open.
The processor is unchanged at 624Mhz and it certainly doesn’t feel slow, whether you’re loading web pages or swapping between programs. You can also quickly swap between open applications by holding down the Blackberry button.
Blackberry Bold 9780: Email and social networking
The highlight of Blackberry Bold has always been the keyboard, it’s unchanged here. Typing is a breeze; the keys have enough travel, so you’ll be effortlessly typing out messages. Although those with larger fingers (like us) may find this a bit cramped, we prefer the larger keyboard on the HTC Desire Z, but the compact size makes this more pocket friendly.
In keeping with RIM's key strength, the Bold 9780 is very email friendly. You can sync 10 email accounts at once, either via an internet email account like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail, alongside business Enterprise Accounts. This is all done via the Setup menu, which uses simple step-by-step instructions to walk you through email, instant messaging and social network set up (along with WiFi and Bluetooth).
All messages come through to a unified inbox, or you can choose to have individual accounts, which you can move to a folder to keep your homescreen less cluttered.
Social Feeds lets you aggregate Facebook, Twitter, AIM, Blackberry Messenger and Google Talk accounts. Choose to view all the information in a list or filter by individual accounts. Click through to access each individual account where you can write messages, view contacts etc. It works really well and makes it very simple to use, our only gripe is that scrolling through lists of messages takes a while due to the screen size.
Blackberry Bold 9780: Multimedia
To be frank, no-one really buys a Bold for its video playback capability. The screen is certainly a bit on the small size and the 480x360 resolution means videos are fairly bright and sharp, rather than being outstanding, but it’s fine for the odd You Tube video. There’s no Flash support though.
The Bold 9780 captures video at a rate of 640x480 and you can upload images directly to You Tube. The camera has been boosted from 3.2 to 5-megapixels, the shutter is a bit slow, but pictures are adequate and it’s very easy to upload them to Twitter and Facebook with a few clicks.
A boost in storage to 512Mb from 256Mb is welcome though, of course extendable via MicroSD cards.
Audio playback is pretty good, we managed to muster a decent amount of volume from our tracks and a 3.5mm jack means you can use your own headphones
Blackberry Bold 9780: Verdict
With its full QWERTY keyboard and strong email support, the Bold 9780 is very much a phone for messaging - for sending texts and emails. To his end it’s still probably the best handsets on the market.
While Blackberry OS 6 is a notable improvement, the screen is the biggest problem. It’s too small, the resolution is too low and just feels a bit slow, especially next too the HTC Desire Z and Motorola Milestone 2.
It’s a shame RIM chose to make a baby step rather than significant tweaks, but for Blackberry fans, this is still a solid choice.
Blackberry Bold 9780 release date: Out now, link RIM
Blackberrry Bold 9780 price: Around £399 sim free