The BlackBerry Style 9670 was announced on Sprint last week and we have since got our hands on a review unit to play around with.
Just as a refresher, the BlackBerry 9670 is RIM’s second go at a clamshell smartphone, and hosts a 2.4″ HVGA display, colour external display for at-a-glance notifications, 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, Wi-Fi b/g/n, EV-DO 3G, 512 MB of RAM, and a 624 MHz processor. The BlackBerry Style will be launching alongside the Bold 9780 with OS 6, which includes universal search for local and web content, a snazzy new WebKit browser, and a whole lot of user interface improvements.
Right out of the box, the thing felt a little big (even though it’s actually just as wide as the Torch. Even when closed, it’s not that much shorter than the Torch, and it’s reasonably thicker. I’m still not entirely sold on the form factor, even though it’s more comfortable to use than the Pearl Flip. Not having to lock the device is convenient, but at the same time you’re sacrificing a mute key, which was great for stopping calls quickly in otherwise embarrassing situations, as well as providing some media control.
The second thing I noticed was the significantly larger keyboard, which has been shrinking ever since the Bold 9000. Without a doubt, the extra room makes typing require less focus and generally easier to use. The display follows suit to an extent, and is bigger than what you’ll find on a Bold, but still smaller than the Torch and Storm.
The external display is handy for knowing what’s up, but there are a few niggling parts that could be tweaked in order to make it better. For example, when you open up a notification with the side convenience key, the LED keeps blinking to mark unread messages. By all means, leave it unopened so I know what I haven’t properly looked at on the full screen, but I won’t know if anything new comes in if the light’s still blinking. Plus it’s really, really distracting. Also, you can’t browse through notifications with the volume keys if you have the media player running, which effectively negates the convenience Part of me wishes that RIM would just buy up Allerta and shoehorn the external display software into an official watch so every BlackBerry could get this unified experience, and RIM could take some time to offer some deeper functionality.
As far as sheer style is concerned, the 9670 has the same sleek, simple curves we’ve come to expect, and falls more or less in line with RIM’s established look. Even when closed, the top flap is distinctly separate from from the main body, which is nice for catching when you want to open it, but breaks up the otherwise seamless look. Open, the hinge section on the main body feels like it takes up too much room, but it’s better than the Pearl Flip’s solution which was to jam the trackpad and keyboard high up and result in a conspicuously huge chin.
Anyway, I’m sure there’s still plenty more to be said, so hang tight for our full review sometime next week. In the meantime, here are some stills and our unboxing video.