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RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700

Slimmer, sharper, swifter

Watching video is hampered a little by the size and ratio of the screen – widescreen video won't fit easily into it, and sharp as it is, you'll still need to squint a bit if you plan on any extended viewing. It supports a good range of formats though, including MPEG4, H.263, H.264 and WMV3.

BlackBerry Bold 9700

The music player offers easy navigation and not a bad sound either

The music player is well laid out and easy to navigate, with cover art support and a Find option to help you get straight to the tune you want. Sound quality through the supplied headphones was surprisingly good, with a wide dynamic range, and it will also go very loud – it even comes with an onscreen warning, if it thinks you might damage your eardrums.

It's easy to add your own headphones via the 3.5mm headphone jack or take the wireless option with A2DP Bluetooth, and there's a 12-preset graphic equaliser including bass and treble boost options. It'll handle MP3, WMA9/10, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, MIDI, and it comes with a 2GB microSD card on board.

BlackBerry Bold 9700

Functionality can be expanded with downloads from BlackBerry App World

BlackBerry App World is filling up nicely, and there are also quite a few interesting apps already preloaded, including document viewers for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, U2's Mobile Album, which has audio tasters, video, lyrics and more of the band’s latest release, No Line On The Horizon, though it's a streaming version, and you won't be able to transfer any of the files.

The GPS worked fine, locating our north London location in a few seconds. As usual, there's the choice of BlackBerry Maps or Google Maps, but the added features and superior map layouts of the latter make it the favoured one. Battery life was reasonably good, giving us a day and a half of moderate to heavy use, even with push e-mail and Wi-Fi enabled throughout.

Verdict

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is a terrific messaging device thanks to its push e-mail and excellent Qwerty keyboard, but it also makes a fair case for itself as a media player, with a terrifically sharp screen that's only let down by its small size. The browser could perhaps be next in line for an update, and the camera improvement is welcome, though it still lags far behind the best. But the 9700's ease of use and speed of use mark it out as an exemplary smartphone for work and play. ®

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BlackBerry Bold 9700

RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700

Web browsing could be more elegant, but overall, this smartphone is fast and fun featuring a great new screen and track pad.
Price: £385 RRP