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Blackberry 9900 Review


At Digital Phone Company we believe the best way to give feedback on handsets is by gathering it from long term users of a device rather than just using it for a few days.  Our next handset review is the Blackberry 9900.  This handset has been reviewed by one of our own staff....

I was extremely pleased when I was given the chance to write a review of the Blackberry 9900, not just because it is by far the best phone I have ever owned, but also I feel people, in my opinion, don’t shout-out about Blackberry enough.

As soon as this phone was announced I knew I had to have it. I had been looking to move back to Blackberry for some time and was excited by this device as soon as it was launched. Having previously owned a Blackberry Curve 8520, I then moved onto a HTC Desire Z to try something
different, as you do.  It's not that I didn’t think the Desire Z was a good handset, because it did everything I could have asked for; however, with
most contracts these days being 24 months, I think it is important for you to "love" a phone and not just "like" it.

Where to begin!  Whether you want to talk and text, browse the web, download apps or check emails, the Blackberry provides the whole package. One of the key features which attracted me back to Blackberry is the fantastic 'push' email system. Most businesses I can guarantee will use Blackberry simply because of this feature alone. It allows you to have multiple email addresses set up on your handset and you can send and receive them just like you would a text message. I have three separate email accounts set up on my handset and I can easily access any of them at anytime. Whenever an email comes through on any of the accounts I will pick it up straight away. Some people say that the 'push' email system is not essential, which may be true, I however, disagree and think it makes life much easier. I can access my emails for work on my days off, if required, pick up personal emails and also band emails, if we happen to get a booking enquiry, all made possible by the 'push' email
facility. Just to give you an idea of its reliability my Dad's company has around 40 handsets on their account, most of these being Blackberry!

Enough said... not quite!


Something that sets the 9900 apart from the other Blackberry handsets is the combined touch and type display. Although smaller than an all touch screen, the 2.8 Inch touch screen allows you to zoom in whilst browsing the web, using the pinch method you will find on other handsets, making it quicker and easier than on an all keypad handset such as the older 8520. The reason of course for the screen being smaller, is that the display is combined with a full QWERTY keypad, the iconic Blackberry trademark, and it does not fail to disappoint. The handset itself is slightly wider than previous models, making each individual key that little bit bigger and easier to text on compared to the slightly smaller
buttons of its predecessors. I love using the keypad for emails and texting! For me being able to feel the keys beneath my fingers and not having all the hassle of predictive text on a touch screen is fantastic.  So simple, but its little things like that which really define your opinion on a phone.

The 9900 is not without its traditional optical track pad in the centre, giving you ease of use for gliding between applications on the display panel and actually selecting them with ease too. Compared to the track pad on my old Desire Z this one is by far superior. It is incredibly sensitive it makes navigation around the handset effortless. I will no longer find myself cursing at the handset because I keep pressing the wrong icons on a touch screen!

I think one of the reasons people don’t rave about Blackberry is that perhaps they don’t think it matches up in terms of looks to other handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation. I find most people these days when looking for a smartphone go for a touch screen. When somebody comes into store I always ask the question "Why that handset?”. You would be surprised how often the response is "Because everyone else has one" or "My mate's got one and said it’s good". The 9900 really pushes the boat out in more ways than one though. First impressions are everything and when I first clamped eyes on this phone I knew instantly that it was streets ahead of previous models.

The device is wider and fits perfectly in your hand. It is also slim and surprisingly light so you don’t feel like you have a brick in your pocket. I

went for the white version with the silver band around the outer edges which really stands out especially when I'm in the shop speaking with customers.  People often ask me what I use and generally don't expect me to say a Blackberry. However as soon as they see the phone the majority give a very good reaction and even then consider one themselves. This is again a clear indication that the Blackberry 9900 is something very different and very special. Even the inside components match up to other top handsets on the market today...

The 1.2GHZ processor makes it faster than any of the previous Blackberry models andeven on par with other top smart phones. The Blackberry OS 7.0 software is faster too. It looks better and has a more user friendly approach to it. It allows you to customize the application panel so you can have your most important shortcuts there whenever you need them and also supports the latest applications available on the Blackberry App World. Even if a Blackberry doesn't catch your eye at first I would urge you to take time out to have a proper look. Not that I want to bombard you with clichés but "Don’t judge a book by its cover".

I’m sure you will agree that if somebody had said to you ten years ago "This phone has a camera on it" I would have said "wow.....but I don't really need that on a phone to be honest". I bet you wouldn’t say that today. Everybody doesn't just want a camera on their phone but the want a "decent" camera. With a 5mp camera and LED flash, this phone delivers a quality picture that can be captured in any condition, and includes settings for sports, party, close up, beach and night. Wherever you are, you are guaranteed a great picture. When compared to other handsets the Bold 9900 does not offer the "best" camera on a Smartphone. Sure enough there are other phones with an 8mp or even a 12mp camera however, let’s not forget that we don’t have a phone for just a camera. Since having the 9900 I will confess to using the camera more than I have on any of my previous phones (currently around 264 camera shots).  This camera is more than enough for what I need and is superb for the odd snap
here and there.

Another key point on the checklist for lots of customers when buying a new handset is simply "Apps?". Can you download them? What ones can you get? Do they cost?  Blackberry won't confess to having the most apps available on their market place but do you want quantity or quality? When I had my HTC I found that I had access to thousands of different apps but didn’t really find many that impressed. There are key apps for me such as Sky Sports News, Sky News, EBay, Whats App and Blackberry Maps to name a few, which are all available on the
Blackberry App world. Personally aside from that and the odd ringtone or wallpaper app I don’t go mad on them. Firstly I find most of them pointless and secondly they take up lots of room on your device. Who honestly wants an Air Horn on their phone? In a nut shell if I can send a picture at no cost, get from A to B and check how my Team are doing on a Saturday I’m happy.

Are there any downsides to what so far has probably been portrayed as a faultless handset? Well I would like to say "No" but unfortunately nothing is perfect. The battery life on the Blackberry Bold 9900 is not the greatest. I charge mine every night without fail and sometimes even during the day depending on how much I use it.  This seems to be a general trend across the smart phone board. Having said that the Blackberry 9900 probably sits higher up the ladder than many of other smart phones when it comes down to the battery life test. It is far superior to my HTC Desire Z but no where near as reliable as my old Blackberry 8520. This is mainly down to the touch screen aspect of the handset and can be expected from any modern smart phone. There are of course apps available to counter act this problem to a degree, otherwise you will just have to persevere with it I’m afraid. The only other little snag is that it doesn’t come with an FM radio. I found this very surprising after I bought the handset and to be honest just assumed it would have one. The MP3 player is fantastic though, and the headphones supplied with the phone are great quality. Like most handsets the memory is expandable up to 32GB with an SD Card so there is plenty of room for my music on the device to make up for the lack of Radio 2 activity. Aside from these minor issues I don't have any complaints.

The Blackberry 9900 really is the perfect all rounder. It will fulfill everything you need on a daily basis just like its competitors. What sets it apart from the rest is that it doesn't follow a trend. The 9900 is not a "variation" on something else. It does everything in its own unique way without overcomplicating things.  I have no doubt in my mind that when my next upgrade comes around my first port of call will again be Blackberry. It would certainly take something special to turn my head. I hope reading this urges some of you to perhaps more than consider Blackberry the next time you change your phone.

Chris Gibbons

Digital Phone Company



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