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.
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.
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.