The T-Mobile (NYSE: DT) BlackBerry (NSDQ: RIMM) Bold 9700 isn’t quite launched just yet, but we’ve already gotten friendly with RIM’s newest hardware. The Bold 9700 looks and feels a lot like the original BlackBerry Bold 9000, with some significant under-the-hood upgrades. Cosmetically, the biggest difference is the missing trackball; in it’s place is a new optical trackpad. It’s a subtle design update that makes a lot of sense – the Bold 9000 was a big hit for RIM, of course they’re going to stick with a recipe that everyone loves.
The Bold 9700 is fitted with the same class-leading QWERTY keyboard that debuted on the Bold 9000. It’s slimmer than the original Bold, but packs an upgraded 3.2-megapixel camera and double the application memory (256MB) – all the while shipping on a fully-charged battery for days on end. The entire backside of the Bold 9700 is covered in a rubberized “soft touch” finish that highlights the faux-leather backing.
What about the new trackpad? Is it just as easy to use as the iconic BlackBerry trackball? Is it responsive and accurate enough to satisfy die-hard BlackBerry fans? In a word, “yes.” The optical trackpad samples your finger input hundreds of times a second, translating the direction and speed of your finger into smooth cursor movements. It works well. In fact, it might just be better than the trackball.
To beat the issue to death (again), the Bold 9700′s browser isn’t the best. The browser is said to be improved, but it still lags. It’ll get the job done, but you need to be patient with it. Check out the hands-on video below to see for yourself. It might help to distract yourself away from the browser and just focus on the Bold 9700′s improved camera and rock solid push email features.
Basically, if you liked the Bold 9000, you can’t really ask for any better than the Bold 9700. The official launch window is “sometime before November 27,” but all signs are pointing to a Nov. 18 launch for $199.99 with new 2-year contract.
Enjoy our hands-on video and photo gallery!