BlackBerry still seems to be finding its way in this ever consumer-centric, touchscreen-dominated smartphone world, with its latest touchscreen option, the Torch, getting a mediocre response and the company recently slipping out of the top five smartphone manufacturers worldwide. However, if you're still a fan of the classic BlackBerry design then the company still has you well covered with its latest model the Bold 9780.
The external design is essentially identical to this phone's predecessor, the Bold 9700 with the classic landscape-oriented screen sitting atop the navigation controls and physical keyboard. We've got the white version here, which we must admit to being rather nonplussed about as it has a pearlescent finish that makes it look just a bit grubby and yellowed. It may be to some people's taste, just not ours. Thankfully a classic black version is also available.
A small patch of faux leather adorns the back providing a nice soft, tactile feel. However, as with the Bold 9700 we would rather a return to the full leather back of the original Bold 9000 as it both looks more striking and protects even more of the chassis. Nonetheless, this is a phone that feels well made and comfortable to hold for calling, typing and general navigation duties.
Never one to shy away from having plenty of buttons, BlackBerry has given the Bold 9780 a suitably comprehensive selection. On the left is the voice command button – just press it and speak your mind to start a call or check your phone's status – accompanied by a microUSB socket and headphone jack. We would prefer a few more voice options like "start text message" or "open an app", though actually we just remapped this button to bring up the task manager anyway. Also, as ever we must protest the presence of the headphone socket on the left edge where it's likely to cause headphone jacks to snag on pockets.
Up top are buttons for locking the screen and pausing music and muting your call (not, however, muting the phone overall, which is a bit strange), while the right houses a volume rocker and button for the camera. There are also countless keyboard shortcuts at your disposal making it really easy to get to loads of features in double quick time.
As for general typing on the keyboard, you shouldn't be surprised to hear it's excellent. The scalloped individually mounted keys feel secure and responsive and the layout is excellent. We still find typing on onscreen keyboards produces faster results but fans of physical keyboards won't find better without resorting to the even larger versions found on slideout keyboards. The fact that it's backlit is also a bonus.
Two metal pads sit in the bottom corners of the phone and are there to make contact with the charging points on compatible charging docks. We can't yet find one that's officially for the 9780 but being as this phone is so physically similar to the Bold 9700, you should be able to use the dock for that phone.