Review by Todd Haselton on Monday December 20, 2010.
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The BlackBerry Bold 9780 is nearly identical to the BlackBerry Bold 9700 in both features and specs, save for a few tweaks here and there, and the BlackBerry 6 operating system (which RIM says will eventually be available for the Bold 9700). So what makes the two different?
The Bold 9780 offers RIM's latest BlackBerry 6 operating system. Personally, I prefer BlackBerry 6 with a touchscreen, like on the Torch 9800, since the menus are much easier to navigate with the swipe of a finger than with the phone's optical trackpad. However, I still prefer the new operating system over the old, and think that alone is worth considering the 9780 over the 9700. BlackBerry 6 has a lot of useful features, and my favorite is the notifications bar that can be pulled down from the top of the screen. This provides a glance at your inbox, new messages, Facebook messages, and more.
Email and messaging is a BlackBerry smartphone's forte and the Bold 9780 wasn't a letdown. Its QWERTY keyboard was the same as the Bold 9700's, and it's excellent for typing long and short messages alike. If you're an email junkie, the Bold 9780 will be right up your alley, although Gmail users will likely prefer the much more robust Gmail client found on an Android smartphone.
The Bold's relatively low screen resolution, paired with its small screen size, made surfing full HTML websites a struggle. It took way too much panning to find the information I wanted, or to read a full story on our homepage. Pages load just fine, but RIM also has yet to add Adobe Flash Player 10.1 support, so most Flash content is unavailable. Pages sometimes lagged a bit while panning, too, despite the Bold 9780's 512MB of memory (up from the 9700's 256MB).
The Bold 9780 offers a 5MP camera instead of the 3.2MP camera on the Bold 9700. It's an improvement, but the images aren't as sharp as those shot with Samsung's Galaxy S phones. I saw a lot of graininess and washed out colors in most shots. I also think it's time RIM starts equipping its phones with the ability to shoot HD video; it's the only major manufacturer with a flagship phone that's unable to do that.
Voice and data on the Bold 9780 were good. I had no issues placing calls on the 9780 and can think of at least two instances where I preferred to place a call on that phone here in NYC, because of its reliability, instead of using my everyday phone, AT&T's Samsung Captivate. As with most of T-Mobile's BlackBerry phones, the Bold 9780 also supports UMA calling, which allows you to place voice calls over a Wi-Fi network should you be out of T-Mobile's coverage area.
Overall the Bold 9780 is a good phone, make no mistake about it, but it's not great. The operating system, despite being new, feels outdated compared to nearly every other OS out there, including Android and Apple's iOS. There aren't a ton of first-rate apps available, either, despite what RIM would have you believe through its commercials. If you're a BlackBerry fan and want to stick with a BlackBerry, then the Bold 9780 is an excellent choice. If you want more out of your smartphone in terms of applications, more robust email clients, and a better web browsing experience, I'd recommend nearly any of T-Mobile's Android phones instead.
Todd is a senior editor at MobileBurn and works out of his home in New York City. He covers news for us and also writes reviews. You can follow him on Twitter at @RoboTodd