BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 First Impressions #BBWC11

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The BlackBerry Bold Touch has been unveiled here at BlackBerry World 2011. Even though the device isn’t finished and is still technically in beta, we thought we would write down some initial impressions to give you an idea of what to expect.

First of all, the thing everyone will love about this device is the “Liquid Graphics”. Liquid Graphics is the marketing term RIM is using to descripe the pixel density and Java code behind the homescreen and OS. The Liquid Graphics goes a long way to improving the user experience and makes the whole thing very snappy. I believe RIM said the homescreen is running at 60fps (frames per second). Scrolling between app screens is incredibly smooth and switching screens from icon to app is a very elegant process. This, probably above all features, is going to be the best part of the Bold Touch, simply because it makes using the device so pleasant. When we review the device, something we’re going to be looking for is how well that user experience is maintained after you’ve loaded around 20 apps on the device. If the device can handle a lot of apps, and still gives you that smooth experience, RIM is going to see a lot of satisfied customers.

The next major feature that stands out is obviously the touchscreen interface. Back when we first starting hearing about the Bold Touch, some sceptics complained that the screen would be too small to make sense for a touch device. After using the Bold Touch, it’s clear that the touchscreen has a place on a QWERTY BlackBerry, and it’s a great new feature particularly for navigating the homescreen. We didn’t get a chance to test pinch to zoom on the browser, as it was still in beta, but it didn’t seem like it would be a big part of the user experience. The touch controls go a long way to navigating to the app of your choice and pulling up your notifications. It’s incredible how much time you save when you can click an icon versus having to navigate to it on the trackpad. We have written about the benefits of multiple user inputs several times, and after using the Bold Touch it feels like we’re still spot on.

We highlighted the benefits in our BlackBerry Torch review. The input methods break down as follows:

Touchscreen: Navigating the homescreen tabs is easier with touchscreen gestures.
Trackpad: The trackpad is perfect for anything that requires precision. Copy and paste as well as navigating text to make an edit is best with the trackpad.
Physical keyboard: The BlackBerry keyboard is well respected for banging out emails.

Another interesting aspect of the Bold Touch is its weight and feel. The Bold Touch is very light; so light that you almost forget it’s there in your pocket. It has a clean metallic finish around the edges, and a glass battery door with carbon fiber underneath. Overall, the Bold Touch feels really modern and classy in your hands.

It’s important to note that this device isn’t finished, and it could be different at launch, but what I’m skeptical about is OS 7′s abililty to do anything to address some fundamental issues. These issues include: booting up the device takes too long and loading and deleting apps freezes up the device. Also, the lack of any new hardware features (eg front facing camera), means we won’t be seeing anything we haven’t seen before on BlackBerry (augmented reality excluded).

Other than that, the Bold Touch is definitely going to be the next device I use above all others.

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