for coverage in North America. For
international coverage, the 9650 offers
quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support in the 850/900/1,800/1,900MHz
bands and 3G UMTS support in the
The Bold 9650 comes with the same
optical trackpad that first appeared
on the Bold 9700. While I never used
a trackball-enabled BlackBerry long
enough for the pointer to start to falter, I understand the trackpad holds
up better under extended use. Out of
the box, the trackpad is accurate and
easy to use, although I still find myself
longing for inertial scrolling capabilities that would alleviate the need to
push and push and push to navigate a
long document or Web page.
RIM did not publish the specifications for the processor used for the
Bold 9650, but the unit comes with
512MB of flash for device memory and
application storage, compared with the
256MB delivered with the Bold 9700.
Users can add additional storage via
the MicroSDHC slot, which supports
cards up to 32GB. The device comes
with a 2GB card already installed.
The Bold 9650 ships with the same
1,400 mAh (milliampere hour) battery
(the D-X1) used in the Storm, Storm2
and Tour, while the Bold 9700 and Bold
9000 shipped with the longer-but-thin-ner 1,500 mAh M-S1 battery. The Bold
9630 is rated for 5 hours of EVDO talk
time, or 13 days standby time.
I found the battery quite difficult to
remove from the Bold 9650, as the top
part of the back frame kept me from
getting a good grip on it. Thankfully,
I found it easy to swap the MicroSD
card without removing the battery (I
could also remove the SIM with a little
more effort), so the snug fit shouldn’t
hinder users on a day-to-day basis.
The Bold 9650 has a high-resolution
480-by-360 backlit, light-sensing, transmissive TFT LCD screen that’s similar
to the one on the Tour and the Bold
9700. In a side-by-side comparison, I
found the physical screen on the Bold
9700 slightly larger (by no more than
1/16 of an inch) than that of the Bold
9650, but the actual image is exactly the
same size and equally sharp on both.
Software is a step up
The Bold 9650 ships with BlackBerry OS 5.0 software ( 188.8.131.521 to be
exact)—a step up from the 4. 7 iteration that shipped with the Tour—but
it delivers an outmoded Web browsing experience that’s similar to that
of other BlackBerrys. I was able to
easily activate the Bold 9650 to our
BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)
5.0 SR1 infrastructure, and the device
automatically conformed to our security and wireless network policies.
Sprint already made available an
upgrade to 184.108.40.2069, which purports
to address a radio management problem with the phone in Global mode,
as well as some dialing issues. It can
be installed over the air, through the
BlackBerry desktop or via BES.
With its additional flash memory
on board, there is a decent chance the
Bold 9650 will be upgradable to the
recently announced BlackBerry OS
6.0 (expected to land in the third quarter), although RIM has yet to firmly
announce whether current devices will
be supported. Even if RIM gives the
thumbs up for the upgrade, there is no
guarantee that Sprint will. Customers
who want to ensure their BlackBerry
will support OS 6 should await future
news before making a purchase.
The Bold 9650 ships with the now-
familiar Zen theme, which has become
the norm for other recent BlackBerry
models. Across the board, there is not
much to differentiate the 9650 from
its forebears on the software side, as
the device doesn’t come with a whole
lot of software preinstalled.
DataViz Documents To Go (Word,
Sheet and Slideshow) is there to view
and edit documents. BlackBerry
Messenger is the only preinstalled
instant messaging application, but
download links for AIM, Google Talk,
Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger
and ICQ can be found in the Instant
Likewise, download links can be
found in the Social Networking folder
for the lackluster BlackBerry Facebook
application, MySpace and Flickr, but
there isn’t a link for the still-in-beta
BlackBerry Twitter application. The
latter can be installed via App World,
which is preinstalled. ;
Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story can be found
Sprint released an over-the-air update for the
Bold 9650 almost immediately after launch.
Activated to a BES5 server, the Bold 9650
here reports its memory and radio status.