The BlackBerry Bold 9790 was first released in Asia (Indonesia to be precise) to send the message that Research in Motion is serious about the region. The device will be officially launched in the Philippines this Tuesday. Check out our full review of the Bold 9790 touch and type after the break.
If you’re familiar with the BlackBerry Bold line-up, you will notice that RIM has already two handset variants in this category — the Bold 99xx series which is normally the flagship variant, and the Bold 97xx which has now become some sort of the smaller and more affordable variant.
For reference, we recommend you reading our Bold 9900 review and our Curve 9360 review. The two will give you a better perspective on how the Bold 9790 is positioned in terms of design, configuration and marketing.
When I asked executives from RIM about the difference between the variants of the BB Bold series, they explained that the Bold 9900 represents their top-tier, premium handset while the Bold 9790 was designed to be more affordable and perfectly fits the smaller, Asian hands.
In my opinion, the split is an attempt to fill the gap between the BlackBerry Curve series and the BlackBerry Bold series. Previously, the Bold series cost almost twice that of the Curve series. The Bold 97xx is now 50% closer to the Curve as it is to the Bold 99xx. This price positioning makes sense if you want to expand choice within the brand.
The Bold 9790, in some ways, has inherited the design of the popular Curve 9360. In fact, if you just based it from the exterior make-up the Bold 9790 is much closer to the Curve 9360 than to the Bold 9900.
If you look at the two from afar, you’d hardly recognize one from the other (the Bold 9790 is on the left while the Curve 9360 is on the right).
The hardware configuration is what makes them different though — slightly faster CPU (> 200MHz), a little bit more RAM (> 254MB), bigger storage (> 7.5GB) and little more battery capacity (> 230MHz).
The other main difference is that the Bold 9790 also has a touch-screen display, just like the Bold 9900. However, because the screen is a bit small, the touch navigation could be a cumbersome at times especially if you have large fingers.
The solid yet light construction is typical of the BlackBerry line-up. It’s got a polished, piano-black finish mostly made of durable polymer, fits right on the hands, very handy and pocketable.
The 2.45-inch capacitive display is typical of full-qwerty handsets like the Bold but the 360×480 pixel resolution gives it a good pixel density of 245ppi. Nevertheless, you get a really nice, crisp display with good contrast that offers clear images and readable text.
The silver accent on the side is a signature Bold design and the brown, rubber-like back panel features the large RIM logo at the back. Beside that is the 5-megapixel camera with the LED flash.
The full qwerty keyboard is somewhat ergonomic, relatively soft, easy to type on and the keys are chiseled in such a way that it fits very well with both your opposing thumbs. No individual keys are alike as they are shaped and fitted to the contours of a curved layout. The individuals keys are a little smaller compared to the Bold 9900 and feels a bit cramped especially when you have big thumbs.
The camera performance on the Bold 9790 ranges from decent to fairly good. Stills photos are well-focused most of the time, the shutter captures images fast enough to get a good shot at this large truck running on the highway, and doesn’t get too noisy even on low-light conditions as shown on the shots of the food below.
Video recording isn’t very good, not as good as the HD videos on the Bold 9900, but it’s fairly decent and usable even at VGA (640×480 pixels) resolution.
There’s a dedicated camera button on the right side of the handset beside the volume controls.
As for the sound quality, the speaker at the back is good but the volume isn’t as loud as I expected it. I guess these multimedia features is what will separate the Bold 9900 from the Bold 9790.
Call quality and reception is really good though, something we’ve all been familiar with in any BlackBerry handset.
Notice the embedded lock button on the forehead of the Bold 9790 (like the one in the Curve 9360).
The Bold 9790 is among the new breed of BlackBerries that comes with latest BB 7 OS. Complete hardware specifications are as follows.
BlackBerry Bold 9790 specs:
â€¢ 2.45â€³ capacitive touch screen display @ 360Ã—480
â€¢ QWERTY keyboard, optical trackpad
â€¢ 1.0 GHz processor
â€¢ 768 MB RAM
â€¢ 8GB on-board memory
â€¢ microSD slot supporting up to 32GB
â€¢ NFC technology
â€¢ 5MP camera w/ VGA video recording
â€¢ GPS with aGPS support
â€¢ WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
â€¢ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
â€¢ 1230 mAh Li-Ion battery
â€¢ BlackBerry 7 OS
There’s no secondary front-facing camera here so doing video calls is still not possible and though there’s NFC capability, there’s not much practical use for now.
The combination of a 1.0GHz Marvel Tavor MG1 processor the generous 768MB RAM provided the Bold 9790 good over-all performance on BB 7 OS. The over-all experience is almost indistinguishable between this handset and the Bold 9900.
Access to tens of thousands of apps is available in the BlackBerry App World with most of the more common apps are readily available to download and install for free (like Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, WhatsApp and YouTube).
And since the Bold 9790 features a touchscreen display, you can also play games such as Fruits and Ninja. Of course, you’ll have to just deal with the really small screen here.
Battery life is decent on the Bold 9790. It might last a whole day if you’re always connected but could stretch that to two days if you’re mostly doing calls or SMS. Expect to have something very close to the Bold 9900 and the Curve 9360 on normal use.
The BlackBerry Bold 9790 was launched in Indonesia back in November 25, 2011 with a suggested retail price of Php22,995 so we’re expecting something really similar or close to it (we will update on Tuesday once the device is also launched here in the Philippines).
Disclosure: This review unit was given to us, along with hundreds of media and VIP attendees, during the BlackBerry Asia Launch in Jakarta, Indonesia last November 2011.