iPhone sales haven’t made BlackBerry any less Bold

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BlackberryboldApple might be outselling RIM, but the BlackBerry handset maker still has bold plans. Literally. The BlackBerry Bold finally has a release date of November 4th on AT&T’s network. Hey, if the network is good enough for the iPhone, it’s good enough for the Bold, right?

The Bold offers the same half-VGA or 480×320 resolution as the iPhone, but since the screen itself is smaller, there’s a higher pixel density which should offer a very clear display. That’s 163 ppi or pixels per inch for the iPhone vs. 217 ppi for the Bold. There’s also the QWERTY keyboard, GPS, WiFi, 3G, 1 GB of internal storage and support for up to 16GB of expansion capacity just to name a few features. Although there were some early reports of a slow browsing experience on the Bold with beta firmware, the release date kept unofficially creeping back and I wonder if some under-the-hood tune-up efforts were the cause.

Documents To Go by DataViz is pre-loaded on the device, which is a nice plus and will come in handy for editing and viewing Office docs. With RIM passing Windows Mobile in terms of market share recently, the Bold looks to continue RIM’s growth, especially in the consumer space. Expect to pay $299 with a two-year agreement if RIM’s BlackBerry Bold is the apple of your eye. Making the smartphone launch even more bold is yesterday’s announcement from RIM: they’re launching the BlackBerry Application Storefront in March of 2009.

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Alan A. Reiter

I’ve been using the Bold in the U.S. for about two months, mostly over T-Mobile EDGE and Wi-Fi.

I upgraded the OS to 4.6.134, although I don’t know if that’s the version AT&T will offer. There are a few problems, such as some slow browsing, but I disabled Javascript and, overall, the browsing is generally pretty good, especially via Wi-Fi. You can set the browser to BlackBerry, Firefox or Internet Explorer mode. Usually I keep it on BlackBerry mode because it seems faster, but some pages display better with Internet Explorer emulation.

On rare occasions, the Bold will spontaneously reset (once, when I was listening to a jkOnTheRun podcast!), but that also has happened with other BlackBerrys. Call quality is rather good.

Viewing ebooks is excellent because the screen is quite bright and relatively high resolution, although not as large as the iPhone’s.

The 2 megapixel camera takes pretty good photos, although I would prefer more capabilities, such as manually increasing the exposure or “scene” modes (landscape, portrait, etc.). The flash is bright enough for an LED (in other words, not very bright), but Xenon would be much better.

The music player is good enough, but fairly basic and lacks bells and whistles. The 8 GB San Disk microSD works fine and holds most of what I want, although if I shot lots of videos, I might want 16 GB.

The Wall Street Journal application is great for viewing headlines and downloading complete articles from multiple WSJ sections.

Overall, this is a very nice device for e-mail junkies. It’s my preferred phone, although I usually carry a high-end Nokia handset, too.

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