I took a jaunt down to Waterloo to visit with RIM and check out their latest creations: the BlackBerry Bold 9790 and the BlackBerry Curve 9380. At first glance, they seemed like little more than entry-level rehashes of the OS 7 devices they launched over the summer, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Following the launch of the 9900, the BlackBerry Bold 9790 hearkens back to the slimmer 9750 and 9700. It’s very light, and carries with it a few new design changes, like beveled keys on the outer edges, and a repositioned micro USB slot, but keeps the single top lock button and redesigned side media control keys. From a specs perspective, the Bold 9790 is a notch behind the 9900, if not a huge one. The 5 megapixel camera is actually a slight improvement, considering it has autofocus, but it’s a bit smaller at 2.4 inches, and the resolution is down from 640 x 480 to 480 x 360. The 1 GHz processor is a decent improvement over the old 9700-series, and only a little bit behind 9900 / 9930. NFC is included, though dependent on carrier cooperation. That feature is more about future-proofing at this point; right now, I’d like to see RIM finally get mobile Wi-Fi hotspots working, and after that, DLNA support. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
In my brief time with the device, I wasn’t particularly blown away, mostly because the OS 7 experience is largely unchanged. Everything operated smoothly, and I think RIM will do a fine job in delivering a 9900-esque experience in a more affordable package, but the current pricing data from TELUS puts the 9790 only $40 cheaper than the 9900. Is that going to be enough of a price drop to make this phone accessible to no-contract markets, like the Indonesian one RIM is marketing the BlackBerry 9790 for? I doubt it, but maybe we’ll see some significant price cuts after a few months following the launch.
In any case, here’s a walk-through video with one of RIM’s product managers and a bunch of stills. What do you guys think – will this at least tide RIM over in international markets until BBX handsets start getting announced?