The Bold even does a good job of video playback, something that you wouldn't traditionally associate with a BlackBerry. OK, so I'm not one to watch video on a screen this small, but for anyone that is in the habit of viewing TV shows and movies on their phone, you're not going to be disappointed with the Bold. But even in general use the screen makes a real difference, with the red Vodafone wallpaper looking rich, deep and vivid. It also helps that RIM has updated the traditional BlackBerry icons, giving the Bold a far more modern look and feel.
Talking of icons, you get a row of icons along the bottom of the home screen for quick access. Although there are default icons in place when you first power on the handset, you have the ability to move any of your icons onto the shortcut row from the full list. So, whichever applications you use the most can be assigned to the shortcut bar for quick and easy access. Below the screen are call and end buttons, along with a back button and the BlackBerry menu button. Pressing the latter will bring up a complete list of all the icons at your disposal.
Sitting dead centre on the device is the navigation ball that was first seen on the Pearl. Although some users find it hard to get to grips with the ball, I think it's a fantastic navigation device that knocks spots off the old jog wheel that used to be a staple on BlackBerry handsets. The ball makes navigation in every direction a breeze, while pressing to select is far more accurate than it is on some five-way pad designs.
The full QWERTY keyboard is one of the best I've used on any device, and this is one area where the Bold pulls ahead of the excellent Nokia E71. Obviously it's the fact that the Bold is considerably wider than the E71 that allows it to sport larger keys and a less cramped layout. In fact the Bold is significantly wider than the E71, Apple iPhone and the BlackBerry Curve. Its width does make it slightly less comfortable to hold as a phone, but more comfortable when typing on the keyboard. Actual dimensions are 114 x 66 x 15mm (LxWxD), with a weight of 136g.
There's no doubt that the virtual keyboard on the iPhone is still better than the mechanical keyboard on the Bold though. It still amazes me just how easy it is to type on the iPhone, and I have written entire articles on mine while sitting on a train, something that I wouldn't want to do too often on the Bold. That said, after a little while I found myself able to type at a surprisingly quick turn of speed, with little in the way of mistakes. This is definitely one of the best mechanical keyboard implementations on any smartphone, and even if you need to write lengthy emails while out and about, the Bold will serve you well.