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Google and Motorola?  AT&T and T-Mobile?  The death of webOS?  The market is changing rapidly, and RIM's ability to compete has been taken into question several times over the course of the year.  Once known as a top smartphone maker, RIM has seen their marketshare gradually decline over the years - to the point that RIM is regularly discussed as a takeover target.

Despite the negative press, the Canadian company is coming out swinging with three new BlackBerry models, one of which is the BlackBerry Bold 9930.  Featuring a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, 2.8-inch touchscreen display, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording capabilities, and BlackBerry 7, the 9930 is available at Sprint and Verizon.  It's a nice device and a huge improvement from BlackBerrys of the past, but will it alter RIM's existing perception and draw in new users?

Design & Features

If there were a contest on looks alone, the Bold 9930 would score right behind the Apple iPhone 4.  Coming in at 4.53-inches tall by 2.6-inches wide by 0.41-inch thick (that's a scant 10.5mm), it's a stunning device, with a nice metal chassis and black accents.  It weighs 4.59 ounces, making it easy to slip into the pocket and much lighter than some of the Android behemoths on the market.

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The Bold 9930 comes with an AC adapter, USB cable (which doubles as the charging cord), holster, earbuds (Sprint version only), and instruction manuals.  On the left side of the device, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB charging port, while the right side houses the volume rocker, mute button, and convenience key.  The top contains the lock button.

Usability & Performance

Throw out your old thoughts about BlackBerry devices; while the overall OS design is unchanged (more on that later), the 9930 is a whole new experience thanks to a fast 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a much-improved web browser.  After years of being behind, the gap between "BlackBerry" and "everyone else" has been bridged to a manageable level.  For the most part, the performance was great, though I experienced some frustrating lag during tests.

About a week into testing, the Bold 9930 began to stutter on a regular basis.  Apps would stop working, the touchscreen would freeze when trying to open things, and the phone would freeze when transitioning from one program to another.  They typically lasted between five and seven seconds, and increased in frequency as the review went on.  During a business trip in New York City on Tuesday, I counted 28 instances where it was affected by lag.

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The Bold 9930 ships with BlackBerry 7, the newest version of RIM's mobile operating system.  It's more of an evolutionary change from BlackBerry 6 (so much so that it was originally going to be called BlackBerry 6.1), and while there are improvements, it still looks dated in comparison to the other platforms on the market.  The combination of a touchscreen and trackpad works surprisingly well for navigation.  I found myself rotating between the two pretty regularly.  They compliment each other pretty well.

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The keyboard.  Oh my, the keyboard.  It's six percent larger than my previous favorite BlackBerry, the Bold 9000, and somehow, they managed to improve it.  The keyboard is a dream.  I've typed out hundreds of emails and text messages, and even managed to pound out a 900+ word document while traveling.  It blows any other physical keyboard out of the water.

RIM says the web browser in BlackBerry 7 is a 40 percent improvement from BlackBerry 6 and a 100 percent improvement from BlackBerry OS 5.0.  I'll be the first to tell you - it's a night-and-day difference from any BlackBerry you've ever used before.  There's no lag, pinch-to-zoom is fast, and it's easy to open multiple tabs.  The only limitation is the size and orientation of the screen, as a 2.8-inch landscape touchscreen isn't the best to do extensive browsing on.

The 5-megapixel camera is terrible, mostly due to a lack of autofocus.  Pictures taken in well-lit areas with enough distance looked fine, but taking close pictures of text is an absolute nightmare.  Editing options include scene modes (auto, face detection, portrait, sports, landscape, party, close-up, snow, beach, night, and text), the ability to set the image size, and the ability to geotag.  As poor as the still camera was, the 720p HD video camera was pretty impressive.  The video quality was quite good, though audio was choppy at times.

The wireless radio has been decent, but it's not nearly as strong as some of the other devices in Verizon's lineup.  On the Verizon and Sprint versions, I've noticed that they regularly fluctuate between 3G and 1X, even when sitting in the same place.  In call quality tests, callers said I sounded loud, though they reported an extraordinary level of background noise in each one of my test calls (in one instance, I had to reconnect due to how bad it was).  BlackBerrys are business devices - as such, you would expect a cornerstone feature like call quality to be decent.

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With a thin device comes a thin battery, and unfortunately, it doesn't make it through the day.  Moderate use like calling, text messaging, browsing the web, downloading apps, and using BlackBerry Messenger drained the 1,230 mAh battery in roughly nine hours.  If you're a light user, you'll scrape by, but everyone else should purchase a spare battery or car charger.  Fortunately, the device charges relatively quickly, so you'll be able to get those quick charges in between events.


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The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is the best 'Berry yet.  The 1.2 GHz processor, touchscreen/candybar combo, premium construction, and improved browser finally brings the brand up wto where it can effectively compete with Android and iOS.  Even better, there's two other Torch models (9810 and 9850) with similar specs that will appeal to those that prefer different form factors.  I'm not sure how they keep doing it, but the keyboard on the 9930 is the best one yet; it runs circles around the Bold 9000, the former champion.

That said, the Bold 9930 isn't a game-changer.  It doesn't offer any revolutionary features that will make users from competing platforms switch, and despite minor design improvements, BlackBerry's OS still seems like something out of 1998.  I'm also shocked that they shrunk the battery so drastically.  If you're a die-hard BlackBerry fan, want an awesome keyboard, or love to use BlackBerry Messenger, this is your phone.  For everyone else, when you consider the cost - $199.99 and up - there are better alternatives on the market.



What's Good: Fast processor; web browsing is significantly improved; keyboard is fantastic.

What's Bad: Small display; battery life is poor; aging operating system still pales in comparison to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

The Verdict: The BlackBerry Bold 9930 is the best BlackBerry yet, but the high price point and clunky operating system won't win over new customers.

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86 Reactions to this post

"Is the BlackBerry Bold 9930 worth getting?"

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Chad Allen Its a great bussiness phone and i love the design but i use media alot and there are far better phones out there for that so no.
Rumle Borgmann its a very good design
Frank Mendoza i will wait till the blackberry colt comes out with the ability to use android apps. but this phone does look pretty nice
Jose Gomez No, priced at 240 I don't think its worth it, I'm not a big fan of the iphone but I would perfer that over the 9930
Ed Plnia People always like to hate, that will never end! IPhone isn't the best phone, neither are the Android, blackberry is not a fancy phone that you use to play games or watch movie, the only thing RIM need to do is bring Adobe flash so people can watch web videos. I owned many android phone and blackberry too, the iPhone I used to have the 3GS and the iPhone 4 32GB I returned both. Blackberry are like little portable computer that you can do many things plus the battery is 50 time better than any Android. (Evo 4G, Evo 3D, HTC thunderbolt , HTC sensation, Droid incredible, HTC MyTouch 4G, LG G2x, G2) just to mention a few android phone that I already own and sold
John Sanchez Well being in the industry of course i got to play this months ago. Seamless, snappy and quite possibly the best blackberry they have made. Also got my hands on the new curve (this device is interesting, almost feels like your not holding anything) plus the accessories are close to ottorbox stuff. Really interesting what blackberry is doing, but is it enough to compete? I use this blackberry because every android i have had has a million known issues, it really doesnt matter the manufacturer.
Tim Shull Blackberry bbm and email are the best nobody comes close !
Hector E Craig People still use those things? Smh
Thomas Matthews Farhan, haven't you noticed that there is already a fully touchscreen torch?
Howie Eastin No front facing camera, no auto focus...and outrageous on contract price :( All in All no it's not worth it
Zach Cline Too many android fanboys trolling. I'm curious as to how they'll react five years from now after the next big thing comes along. I can hear it now."People still buy android? It sucks.
David Mojica Heu men, i use to be a bb fan, but once on android you never go back... The only thing miss is bbm, but not to much cause i have all my bb contacts on fb and twitter XD
Jerby Nicdao Yah if you like bb. Doesnt matter what phone do you have.
Anthony Peña If it was an Android
Bruce W. Thomas Jr. Btw I'm runnin with the Samsung Replenish... sure it doesn't stack up with the specs of an EVO but it definitely gets the job done... the best mid-range Android for Sprint.
Bruce W. Thomas Jr. They need to keep Blackberries for what they were invented for in the first place; business oriented people. First off a lot of people (young groups) are getting Blackberries to try to look important as well as trying to make the phone be a fun phone when in all reality, its not. iPhones and Androids are meant for the fun with a little business... Blackberry is for strickly business... get it? Got it? Good... personally I would buy the blackberry if I was a complete businessman but I'm not so maybe I will just stick to Android.
Ashish Upadhye as i always say, BB sux ! Samsung is coming out with NOTE and thats really a great phone. whos gonna buy this 9930 ??? i am waiting for Samsung Galaxy NOTE !!!!!
Henry Murillo I want the new BB torch! Android gettin old for me
John Smith Whackberry and IPUD.... who cares.... android rocks both of them turn key wannabes.....
AleXander WaTson Nop! I don't think so!
Darryl Mouzone Too many fanboys, so little time. I don't know why I even bother reading these comments sometimes. Just once I would like to read an unbiased one.
Andres Escobar Always android much better than iphones ..2.4 blackberry screen inches funny hahaha funny
Justin Cartier Nope, BB is a dead O.S. ANDROID forever.
Christopher Montrose Sensation has got my vote! I love mine!
Robert Skeen Nope. Droid Bionic!
Armando Sanchez Didn't you already do a review on this phone? Or was it the 9900, which turns out, is the exact same phone.
Eric Ver Linden Erik, I say the mytouch 3g slide. BTW, blackberrys suck. I'll stick with my HTC EVO 4G that I only paid 19 dollars for.
Sue Riot I like my blackberry. Andriod is an operating system doing for phones what Windows did for PCs. Flooding the market. And for the record, I do like a physical keypad, as do many others. Calling people morons for liking a phone, that has something they like, is pathetic.
Farhan Khan Hey guys check this phone out: its a BEAST http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRxjopfC1Gs
Erik Martinez I never liked the blackberry its a small keyboard squeezed into a phone I own a mytouch 3G slide the keyboard is just my size (I need an opinion ! what phone is better? Sidekick 4G or mytouch 3G slide?)
Alberto Angel Gutierrez Tostado I stay with my evo 3d 100%
Michael Breeze Blackberry is just trying to squeeze out the little trendiness they have left... Physical keyboards aren't easier to type... Its just for those with a virtual keyboard phobia...virtual keyboards aren't like the HP iPaq days... They are so much more accurate and easy...plus physical keyboards put painful indents on your thumbs after long use... Blackberry will remain relevent until the nolstalgic blackberry following morons get their heads out of their asses and start looking for a truely quality and modern phone
Rani Hinnawi If you're not an Android fanboy like I am, then definitely.
Jesse Moore Personally I love my Bold 9930. Haters gonna hate. Luckily, my battery is from one of the good lots. So, it actually lasts 1 day+ with moderate usage. The keyboard is undeniably the best thing ever. The satisfying click, the shape of the keys, and the nice spread of the keyboard make it a joy to type on. The screen is gorgeous, and it is responsive and very snappy. The only thing I miss about my Android phone is the ability to sit down and play silly games from the market. But then again, what I'm really missing is covered by a tablet which is a far superior multimedia device than any smartphone.
Gilbert Galvan RIM needs to stop making phones. They didnt learn their lesson, and now its too late. Andriod will take over soon.
Farhan Khan Blackberry is a company that is run by a$$holes, this is why they still make phones with physical keyboards. If they don't want to go bankrupt they need make 100% touch screen phones with BIG SCREENS. Nobody wants to buy a phone with tiny screen unless they are mentally handicapped.
Greg DreamChaser Harris I will die a android fam...ain't nobody messing with us...
Farhan Khan not to mention it also has a physical keyboard that used to be used by ancient people!!!!!
Marcelo Gutemberg DeSouza I hate how Blackberries look
Michael Breeze Since Blackberry's multimedia features fall far behind Android and iOS ... NO blackberry is worth getting for $300 on contract... Thats ridiculous ... Plus I can bang out serious texts and emails on my iPhone and Android... People act like you can't use contacts, calenders, email on an iPhone, plus with every iOS update, they are gaining ground and catching up to blackberry email..
Farhan Khan A phone with 2.4 inch srceen???? ARE YOU INSANE?
Maryck Brown F no bb is useless only good thing is the messenger ANDROIDS FTW
Christina Elena Amaya yes it is its a great all around phone...great for communicating via phone text email bbm messenger social networks and the integration of bbm with wikitude augmented reality is fantastic.
Terrance A Bratton Its a great phone that has sent my Android and Ip4 to ebay
Norharishan Nordin i dont understand on why bb is for business email, to me, my ios5 is a damn complete emailing tool ever invented by the genius, Jobs.
Steven Quintal Yes! I'd trade my incredible in a heart beat!
Robert Centennial Its not a new phone its just old parts with a quicker processor. Its not worth it unless its free.
Johnny Luna $169 on Walmart.com
Pedro Luis Perez Considering Android is still garbage and far from being a viable OS... I say yea. If you bang out some serious email and text messeges than I would defenetly say yes. BB is not for every user,if all you do is surf the web, youtube, and sms then get a full screen android, that is what they are for. Qwerty keyboard are great on the new 9930, I test drove one today at sprint. I'll get rid of my epic 4g for it soon.
Darren Penix Is any blackberry worth getting anymore?
Gary Brown Its a nice phone, probably the best blackberry ever but $300 is too much for that phone.
Ryan Cook If i was going to pay $300 for a phone it would be a moto triumph and thats because i would save alot on the plan
Ken Scott I like Blackberries, but I agree with Joel iPhone forever.
David Harness If you like Blackberry OS, yes
John Gross Come close*
John Gross $300 for a Blackberry? I paid a $100 for my photon, and there is no way a blackberry phone can come to it!
Joel Moran I stay with iPhone 4 ever!
El Wapo Nope!
Darren Lopez Damn right its worth it I got a BB Bold 9930 and love it! Only thing that sucks no front facing camera like I thought lol...
Jose Rodriguez I actually like BlackBerry. They just need a better app store. BB App World sucks. Android Market is ok, but I think Apple's App store is better. I miss BBM and having a far better push system than my Android.
Marc Barbieri Nope. I had one for 2 days and returned it. All they did was make it faster. It's still the same outdated crap as before.
Clarissa Williams No it not worth it!
Geo Foreal Nothing blackberry is.
Marlene Hernandez Yes worth it! I love my BB Bold 9930 :D!
Jan Michael Cruz Yes yes yes, and I'm using an android
Tobias Joshua Prince No way. Lol. I'll stick to my Evo 3D
Randy A Ferguson Joint is sexy.....but for $300, nahhh, I'll wait when it's lowered down. It should be lowered down by black friday. But for now, the Torch 9810 is the way to go
Ujjwal Srivastava no way.....android ftw....!!!
Steven Bright They still make blackberries?lol
Raymond Sosmoove Samuel Probably not, at least for me. Not after.my experience with this bb torch
Erik Rosli umm. nope.
Taurean McDade isnt this phone like $300 get the hell out of here and blackberry app world is terrible evo 4g lg revolution or photon 4g best phones out
Steve Moore I agree with Felipe. BB is always late to the party. Too old school for me.. I'm waiting for something better.
Tim Shull Yes bbm and e-mail can't be beat.
Zainal Abidin Canada eh . . . XD
Devontae Johnson If It Come With A Droid Bionic !
Travis Jupitar Pda's are out dated no matter how much ur upgrade them
Keith UnCool Nicholson I saw someone with one today
Felipe Gonzalez If it was 2007
Grant Joseph Tame Hate blackberrys but this 1s kinda hot...undecided
Brandon Hart Who uses BlackBerrys?....Androids are 10 times better

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