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BlackBerry Bold 9900 review



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Our Score:



  • Stylish design
  • Great screen quality
  • Superb keyboard


  • Small screen
  • Very limited app store

Key Features

  • 2.8in, 640 x 480 display
  • 1.2GHz Processor
  • BlackBerryOS 7.0
  • Mini qwerty keyboard
  • Manufacturer: Research In Motion
  • Review Price: £420.00

BlackBerry has been up against it recently, its handsets really only holding their own based on people's love of the form factor and their abilities at basic phone duties. When it came to apps, web browsing, and other smartphone fripperies, though, they lagged well behind. Research In Motion hopes to change all that with its latest handset, the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Available now for around £415 SIM free, it's not cheap but is just about on the money for a premium handset.

RIM has made some interesting design decisions with the Bold 9900. Gone is the leatherette back, replaced by a carbon fibre panel. The shiny chrome strip of old has been replaced by an iPhone 4-aping stainless steel band that no longer loops round the front and back like on its predecessor, the BlackBerry Bold 9780, but harks back to the original Bold 9000 by only encircling the front. The edges of the back have also been bevelled and given a soft touch matt black plastic finish. The result is a phone that looks at first glance very familiar but up close retains a modern vibe – the carbon fibre is a particularly nice touch.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 8

The design changes haven't affected the phone's build quality either - this is possibly the best-built BlackBerry yet. Everything just fits perfectly, with no hint of wobble anywhere. There's a little flex in the carbon fibre panel but this doesn't concern us. It also remains very comfortable and secure, the bevelled edges allowing the phone to nestle, rather than dig, into your hand. The lock button that sits on the top edge is a bit of a stretch, though, and is recessed a little too much, making it a little awkward. This is a little annoying as it's a function you use everyday.

BlackBerry Bold 9900

Otherwise the general layout and selection of buttons and other external features is excellent. On the right edge you have volume buttons flanking a play/pause button and a camera button. That play/pause button allows you to play or pause your music without unlocking your phone, which is immensely useful – this is even more convenient than the iPhone, and much more than most alternatives offer. The camera button is also very handy as it will launch the camera app when pressed, enabling you to get to taking a photo with just two button clicks – unlock then camera button. It's not quite as convenient as just holding down the camera button as on Windows Phone handsets but it's just as speedy.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 10

On the left edge is the microUSB socket, which is used for data transfer and charging, and - rather annoyingly - the headphone jack. Having the socket here means that your headphones stick out at an awkward angle, making it a pain to get the phone in your pocket, unless you have an angled headphone jack.

BlackBerry Bold 9900 9

Get through the challenge of prising the back plate off and you can access the rather modest 1230mAh battery or add a microSD card to bolster the phone's 8GB of inbuilt storage with up to 32GB more (40GB max total). You can't swap either the SIM or microSD card without removing the battery, though. Above the back cover is the camera, along with its LED flash.

A nice bonus is the decent leatherette case included in the box, along with a modular charger (UK and AU plugs), a separate USB cable and a headset with inline mic and remote - for answering calls and play/pausing music - and an angled jack.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


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


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.


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.


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;


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.


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.


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.


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.
-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.


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....


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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