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BlackBerry Bold 9900 - Multimedia, Battery and Verdict

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Multimedia has never been a strong suit of BlackBerrys and in many ways that hasn't changed on this phone simply because the screen is still a bit small. It also doesn't excel when it comes to video format support with MKV and RMVB formats unsupported. High bit-rate H.264 encoded files also won't play though your average DivX or MP4 clip up to 720p will play fine. The interface for doing so is simple but effective and you can drag and drop files onto the phone.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 5

The same applies for music; just drag and drop and away you go. It will play MP3, AAC and WMA files but lossless formats like FLAC aren't supported. Nonetheless, the phone delivers great-sounding music from its headphone jack, with plenty of oomph and no background hiss. Oh, and did we mention we love that you can play and pause music with that side button? You can also access the Amazon MP3 store right from the phone, where most individual songs cost £0.99 and albums £7.49. Few of the streaming music services seemed to be catered for in the BlackBerry App World, though.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 7

As with video, photo viewing isn't exactly this phone's most obvious forte due to screen size but given the quality of the screen you can more-than enjoy images when the need arises. The image viewer is a simple affair but one that's nice and easy to use, with smooth animations as you swipe left and right between images.

When it comes to taking your own images, the 9900 doesn't exactly excel. That its camera only shoots at five megapixels, compared to the eight of many rivals, is bad enough, but it also lacks autofocus, making close up/macro shots impossible. This is particularly annoying as you can get very useful apps for scanning business cards, and they will struggle to make out the necessary detail on this handset.

One upside to the lack of focus, when combined with the phone's speedy operation, is you can take a shot very quickly – you can go from the homescreen to having taken a shot in a couple of seconds. Also, you do get a reasonably powerful LED flash and overall colouration and sharpness of images is reasonable.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 2

BlackBerry Bold 9900

Video has improved compared to predecessors but it's still not overly impressive. You can shoot at up to 720p and again results are perfectly reasonable, and the LED is there for shooting in the dark. We also particularly like that you can pause and resume shooting without it automatically creating a second clip. However, you can't turn the light on and off while recording and overall image quality is nothing special. Also, there are no facilities for editing or uploading video pre-installed (nor for images for that matter).

BlackBerry Bold 9900 1

In fact there didn't seem to be much in the way of video and photo editing apps available on the Blackberry app store either. The App World, while stocked with the basics and sporting a vastly improved interface over previous versions, is somewhat lacking.

Also somewhat lacking is battery life. Not that the Bold 9900 drops dead with half a day's use but, considering BlackBerrys have long been known for lasting much longer than the competition, the couple of days you'll get from the Bold 9900 (in general use) may be a little disappointing.

Verdict

All told then, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is just about the perfect upgrade for existing BlackBerry users, assuming you can live with the slight drop in battery life. The keyboard's excellent, the touchscreen's great, performance is stellar, and the new software adds plenty too. What's more the limitations won't feel as such if you're used to previous BlackBerrys. However, if you're looking at this phone as simply the best RIM currently has to compete with the iPhones and Androids of this world, then it doesn't quite stack up. Yes, a lot of its limitations are simply down to form factor but nonetheless the screen is small, the camera isn't up to snuff, and the selection of apps is woeful.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Usability 8
  • Value 8
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Castalan

October 1, 2011, 1:52 pm

A physical keyboard - how quaint :)

It's really difficult for companies who have lead a market because of a product to come to terms with the fact that times have moved on and the requirements for their products from their consumers have changed.

it happens time and time again with many companies - and RIM appear to be just as incapable of seeing it as the many other deceased companies that just couldn't face just standing back and starting their product over again.

RIM - if you're listening - dump the physical keyboard, make the touch screen nice and big and you might just come through this .... although i suspect it's already too late

robjohn

October 2, 2011, 12:13 pm

I've had my 9900 since it was launched on O2. I've used a BB since I reluctantly ditched old Palm devices, yonks ago. The 9900 is the best BB I've owned (having got through at least 5 models). It's a matter of taste, but I still like a well made physical keyboard for rattling out longer than a sentence emails. I was in two minds about migrating from BB to iPhone, and I am pretty sure this will be my last BB. Using, as I do, a Mac and iPad, it makes more sense to move to one integrated platform and superb technology. RIM's own email servers and data compressions have made the BB best for my needs (flawless push email on all my accounts, while roaming in Asia, at low data cost). I will be reluctant to leave BB but it looks to be inevitable. 9900 is an excellent device. I have been let down a little by how many business apps from my old BB are not yet available for the OS7 - a sign that developers don't see the platform as a priority. I once said I'd never leave Palm, then I did. Same goes today for BlackBerry I think.

foshy

October 26, 2011, 5:33 pm

Great phone but battery life is terrible. It wont make it through a days normal use without needing a charge mid afternoon. Didnt have that problem on the old bold. As for the comments on the keyboard being quaint?? If i wanted a blackberry with no keyboard, i would have bought the Torch 9860.

GerryW

December 5, 2011, 7:09 pm

Comparing a BB with an iPhone or Android product is like comparing cars to trucks, or bricklayers to plumbers: both do their jobs well enough; but if you need one, don't get the other. BBs are first and foremost business machines. I switched from my old BB to an iPhone two years ago, and immediately regretted it. I suspect iPhones are great if you're playing games all day or fiddling about on Facebook. But the fundamentals just aren't there: rotten battery life; boor audio and reception on calls; a near-inaudible email alert, even at full volume; rotten battery life;

block

December 16, 2011, 2:02 am

Just been through the process of buying a new phone. After some pretty exhaustive research I went to look at some in store. First the iphone. I have a mac, so it made sense. I told the sales guy what I needed, and ended up with: "above all, I need a phone that is good for calls. It has to hold on to a signal." He put the iphone straight back in the box without even bothering to show it to me. I then looked at a Nokia E72, because I'd had an E61 that lasted for five years and took every kind of knock and was good for calls. But the keypad was too small. Then the guy told me to have a look at the Nokia Lumia. I was reluctant at first because I'd already sent back 2 Nokia E7s to the network because even when standing in the store, with its booster, calls sounded as if they were being made under water. But I looked. I liked it. I even thought I might get used to the teeny tiny keyboard, mainly because of auto correct. Then I asked if I could make a call on it. He frowned a bit and seemed rather reluctant. But I got my way. Apparently someone was hissing in my ear during the calls. No good. Again. Then I tried this Bold. Big keys. No problem to type. Robust build. Fast. Very good call quality, including speaker phone. Very good signal. I bought it. So far it is far and away the best phone I have every owned, seen or used. Emails get to the device before they get to my desktop Mac (and the sync with it is no problem either). The integration is sublime. Maybe there are better OSs out there, but when everything I need to contact people is so integrated and easy to find, why would I bother. Maybe there are better, flashier toys out there, but this is a proper, highly efficient phone that actually works as a phone. Your reviewers have, I suggest, lost sight of the fact that people - or adults who have to go to work, anyway - need something that can make telephone calls. It is almost, but not quite, as good for that as the 10 year 㿀 second hand Nokia brick I picked up to tied me over my contract transfer.

sam1919

October 2, 2012, 4:03 am

cut it to the chase....
1) blackberry load up takes way too long
2) slow internet
3) Outdated App world
4) cant handle high usage volume
5) Poor camera
6) small screen

Dont get this phone if you love playing on apps. i bought a htc one s due to the amount i was paying for the blackberry didnt seem right for what i got...but the htc one s is worth every penny.

Stunty

October 22, 2012, 1:46 am

I have just received a BB 9900 after my damaging my 9800 and I have to say I'm not impressed.
What good is a pinsharp screen when it's been reduced in size?
Internet connections are still too slow.
Battery life is a cause for concern.
App Store is still poor and expensive.
I'm afraid to say that come the end of my contract I shall be switching to the IPhone or Samsung galaxy as at least I will be able to read drawings and diagrams whilst on site.

Swilson

November 9, 2012, 2:10 am

Excellent layout, pleasure to use, except for one thing:

This phone is the most unreliable P.O.S. I've ever had the misfortune of owning. This is my first Blackberry and most certainly my last. RIM is a think of the past, and with this low-standard product one has no trouble seeing why.
Problems:
-Calls drop frequently (Changed the SIM card multiple times, ruling out network issues)
-Stops receiving text messages for hours at a time, until I finally take out the battery to reset the phone
-BBM goes down too often

In closing, I would recommend that someone buy a flip phone before they consider buying this. Nothing but disappointment will follow the purchase of a Blackberry.

Moleskin

December 17, 2012, 8:03 pm

I have both BB9900 and Iphone 4. Both great phones. However if I had to make the choice without question it would be BB. It just works for me including the physical keyboard. Admittedly the Iphone is better for browsing and playing with apps but call quality, music playing, e-mails and general day to day business use the Bold wins hands down. Did I mention battery life. Twice as long as the Iphone. Every one is different so we all like different phones.

Alexander C G Kitchin

March 18, 2013, 10:06 am

I have one of these for work ( have an Iphone 4 too); I cant get on with this phone. I was initially very enthusiastic, hoping I would like it more after the Curve I had before. Personally, I find it very difficult to type (my fingers obviously aren't the right shape for this type of keyboard) and, as time goes on, I find myself disliking this phone to the extent that I avoid using it if I can and wait until I am back at my PC. Its too easy to alter settings unintentionally, I have to hold the phone at an odd angle to stop it turning to speaker phone by mistake while on calls(if there is a way to stop this happening I cant find it) and the screen goes berserk when on charge, rolling through different modes randomly; switching on the alarm is also too easy. The battery life is poor, signal drops out often and, as for trying to use the internet, I cant be bothered to waste time waiting for it to do something and navigating with the trackball thing is a pain. It also crashes every now and then which involves taking the battery out to get going again. On the plus side it appears well made and the screen is clear. I know BB fans will think I am just moaning but compared to my iphone it is just not worth the hassle.

nor azmi

April 14, 2013, 10:48 am

1, always hang
2.battery drain fast without any touched
3.camera NOT sharp-much better bold 2
4.sreen blank suddenly

feel frustrated with this concern and 9900 model....

AliceB

August 7, 2013, 9:40 am

This is my second blackberry and certainly my last. It was working fine for the first 6 months and then problems started to occur. Firstly, my i button went dodgy, I don't have to press the I button for it to come on, I just have to slightly tap it. This is very annoying because when I just write a word, I's just appear. Secondly, it keeps turning itself off. And lastly, when I'm on BBM and on recent updates and I want to get back to chats, when I press the back button, it keeps going to home screen. This all started when my scroller kept jumping

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