RIM Announces BlackBerry Bold 9700

Research in Motion today announced November availability for the Blackberry Bold 9700, their newest smartphone for GSM/UMTS networks. When comparing some of the key specifications of the Bold 9700 against that of its predecessor - last year's BlackBerry Bold 9000 - the new phone looks like a modest upgrade that

Research in Motion today announced November availability for the Blackberry Bold 9700, their newest smartphone for GSM/UMTS networks. When comparing some of the key specifications of the Bold 9700 against that of its predecessor - last year's BlackBerry Bold 9000 - the new phone looks like a modest upgrade that adds some nice enhancements, while taking some other unique features away.

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Certainly, the new device measures in slightly slimmer and lighter than last year's model, a welcome improvement given the Bold 9000 was one of the larger devices in RIM's stable. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 also promises a welcome enhancement in battery performance (for both talk time and standby time), promising longer usage despite the same size battery and same speed processor under the hood.

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In what hopefully will be a welcome addition, the Bold 9700 features a small trackpad in place of the trackball featured on the Bold 9000, and other recent models such as the Tour, Curve or Pearl. Although I haven't had the chance to try out the trackpad yet, I hold out hope it will offer some relief against the annoyingly constant scrolling needed to navigate long Web pages or documents on those trackball-equipped devices.

Unfortunately, it appears that RIM also taketh away, as the Bold 9700 abandons the 802.11a support that was so unique to the Bold 9000, settling instead for a more common 802.11b/g implementation. While the loss of the 5 GHz Wi-Fi radio probably won't be a big deal for many, I nonetheless find the subtraction disappointing given that the recently ratified 802.11n standard will certainly drive more enterprise Wi-Fi traffic into the 5 GHz band in the near future.

The Bold 9700 will ship with the long-awaited BlackBerry 5.0 OS, which promises to deliver enhancements to BlackBerry calendar capabilities and e-mail management when used in conjunction with a Blackberry Enterprise Server 5.0 implementation.