The core internals of the Bold 9700 haven't changed that much from the Bold 9000 so it still uses a 624MHz Intel PXA270 processor and that battery is also the same size as its predecessor. Despite this, RIM claims to have significantly extended battery life with talk time up from 4.5hrs to 6hrs, and standby time rising from 13.5 days to 21 days. In our tests, the battery had only dropped to 50 per cent after 2hrs playing mp3s, 2hrs playing video at full brightness, and 1hr browsing the web, which is mightily impressive. By contrast the Motorola Dext had dropped to 14 per cent after the same trials.
In terms of connectivity, the 9700 has everything covered with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HSDPA, and GPS on offer. It's also a quad-band phone so should work pretty much anywhere throughout the world.
Having recently visited RIM's research lab in Bochum, Germany, I witnessed the rigorous call quality and signal testing that BlackBerry devices undergo and the fruits of this labour are clearly implemented in this latest model. Call quality is excellent, with plenty of volume available from the earpiece, and clear noise-free audio from the microphone. The speaker, which is cleverly positioned so that putting the phone down on a table doesn't muffle it, is also exceptionally loud and clear.
So, the new Bold is a pretty impressive device that we'd have no hesitation recommending to those looking for a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard. In fact, given that the screen is so good, it could easily be considered an alternative to large touchscreen phones as well. On contract, it is quite expensive but with SIM-free prices starting at £380 there should be some good deals to be had through other channels.
The Blackberry Bold 9700 may not have quite the distinctive style of the Bold 9000 but in every other sense it's a worthy successor. It's well made, feels nice in the hand, has a great screen and keyboard, and the new optical trackpad is at least equal to the outgoing trackball. So, if you can get it for the right price, we wholeheartedly recommend you go for it.