I just bought the Blackberry Bold 9930 with OS 7 newly available from Verizon (I have heard that the Torch will be available later this week). After some very hairy experiences with OS 6, I was both excited and anxious to experience the new OS on a handset with the hardware to run it well.
My initial impression is good. After a bit of difficulty related to the new App World 3 (I recommend sticking with v2 for now), my data and applications are restored and I am chugging away.
While most smart phones now use soft keys, I still prefer the Bold’s hardware keyboard. Those who share the preference will absolutely love the new Bold’s keyboard. For one thing, it is larger and wider, with a slight curve, making it easier to reach the keys on the outside. It feels very nice to use as well. Many will scoff, but I think that this is just about its most attractive feature; after all, the keyboard is so integral to the Bold experience that it makes a disproportionate difference in the “feel” of the phone.
The touch screen is pleasantly surprising. The screen itself is crisp and bright, and very touch responsive. I was not a big fan of the new layout on OS 6, but with the touch screen it is quite easy and even efficient to use.
The screen is also slightly larger with a better resolution. Users of the Torch or other smart phones won’t see it, but Tour/Bold and Curve users will appreciate the boost in screen real estate.
OS 7 deals with most of the issues I had with OS 6. It is much faster, in part due to the new phone’s hardware. Transitions and effects are now hardware-accelerated, reducing the time (and power) required to process them. Not only is it faster than the slow, bogged down experience I had with OS 6, but it is snappier and more responsive than any BB I have owned to date. Even the Desktop-based interactions, like backups and sync, are much faster.
Additionally, universal search is faster and indexes much more quickly. Once painful to use in OS 6, it is now the fastest way to find applications and messages.
Blackberry has always been king of battery life. No other smart phone ever comes close to a BlackBerry, and that has traditionally been one of the (extremely few) advantages of shipping much slower hardware.
That said, the new Bold has a smaller battery than my last Bold (the 9650), but appears to last every bit as long. Whether it is due to efficiency gains in the software or the faster hardware, it has made a difference.
It is not intuitive, but just as a heavier vehicle will use more gas with an under powered-engine, software can draw a lot of power when the hardware cannot keep up. This is especially true of embedded programming, where the environment places such constraints on resources. My suspicion is that the combination of GPU-accelerated graphics and better reception are helping to keep the OS from pegging the CPU so heavily. In any case, it is a welcome enhancement.
I still can’t send pictures or video directly from the browser. You can only send or post a link, or go to the trouble of saving the file, sending it, and deleting it. I would not think it should be too hard to add this feature, and a number of folks miss it. It is one of those “super app” features that make BB pleasant to use. It saves time by linking apps tightly.
If you have been hanging onto your old Bold or Tour because of OS 6, now is the time to upgrade. It is well worth the money (to me, anyway) to get the new Bold 9930. it is everything I had hoped that my last phone would be, and BB users are going to love it. It is good to see RIM roll with the punches and get back up again.