Sunday, December 28, 2014

Smart phone review: Blackberry Bold 9650

The BlackBerry Bold 9650 smart phone is one of the several models in the Bold series. It is very similar to the BlackBerry Tour (9630) in both appearance and function and users who are upgrading from the Tour will have little trouble adjusting to the Bold 9650.

The 9650 is a rectangular black phone, about four and a half inches tall, about two and a half inches wide and about half an inch thick. It has a 480 x 360 display screen (not a touch screen) above a full QWERTY keyboard. For graphical navigation, it uses a squarish trackpad -- similar to the Tour's trackball or a laptop's trackstick. The trackpad does not get "stuck" like a trackball sometimes does, but it is extremely sensitive and some users may find its sensitivity frustrating.

In addition to the standard 3G connection, the 9650 can connect to both Wi-Fi (802.11b or 802.11g) and Bluetooth networks and devices. Both of these options will drain the battery quickly if they are enabled for long periods of time, so they can be turned on or off as needed.

The 9650 has all of the standard features of a smart phone -- a web browser, a media player that supports both audio and video, a camera (3.2 megapixels) and video camera, GPS capability and much more. It has 512 MB of standard memory and it comes with a 2 GB microSD card. Many BlackBerry apps are pre-loaded (such as BlackBerry Messenger, Maps, MemoPad and Calendar) as well as popular third-party apps like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. BlackBerry App World allows you to download any other apps you might want or need.

Two convenience keys (one located on either side of the device) allow you one-touch access to programs or features that you use most often. The 9650 can connect to a computer via its USB cable for either data transfer or tethering (to use the phone as a modem).

Since it's not a flip phone, you'll probably want to get a holster or case for the phone. But if you just want to stick it in your pocket, the keyboard can be locked to prevent accidental dialing. Locking and unlocking the keyboard is easily accomplished and the power button lets you quickly turn the phone on or off with one touch. Those who are used to the BlackBerry Tour will find the Bold 9650's boot time to be much quicker.

The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a highly-functional, easy to use smart phone that is versatile enough to act as either a personal or business phone. Users who are familiar with the BlackBerry operating system and interface will feel comfortable with the 9650 and new users won't find it hard to learn. Depending on your wireless carrier and the plan that you choose, the price of a 9650 will vary, but if you wanted to buy one independently, sells several different unlocked models starting at $89.95.

(Originally published on, January 2014)

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