BlackBerry Bold 9650 Review: An Updated Tour, Not Much More

CIO.com's Al Sacco reviews RIM's new BlackBerry Bold 9650, an upgrade to the popular BlackBerry Tour. The verdict: RIM's latest smartphone gets the job done in style, but it may not satisfy true smartphone geeks. Here's why.

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BlackBerry Bold 9650 Review Conclusion: Too Little, Too Late

The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a quality 3G smartphone with a crisp 480x360 display, a relatively fast processor (thought to be 624MHz), a great BlackBerry keyboard, beautiful form factor, Wi-Fi, GPS, CDMA and GSM network support and a pile of application memory.

The problem: Most of that could be said about the original Tour, released last July, if only it hadn't experienced so many trackball issues and it had Wi-Fi. The Bold 9650 is functional, but it's not exactly exciting.

I also have concerns about potential hardware issues with the Bold 9650, since its trackpad-area and keyboard feel awkwardly upraised. Two-weeks time wasn't long enough for me to determine how the keyboard-area will wear and/or whether or not the problem will worsen. But it could definitely be problematic, which makes me slightly hesitant to recommend the handset, especially after the Tour's hardware track record.

Bottom line: If you're a big fan of the BlackBerry Tour, and you're not in the market for a new form factor, you'll love the Bold 9650, since it's a more powerful, more durable (hopefully) version of the same device.

If you're already on Sprint or Verizon, the two U.S. carriers currently offering the Bold 9650, you're pleased with the current service and you've got your heart set on a full QWERTY device, the Bold 9650 is probably your best optionat least for the foreseeable future.

However, if you're looking for an exciting new device with cutting-edge features and functionality, and/or you're willing to switch to another wireless carrier, you probably want to keep looking. In my opinion, the Bold 9700 is still the best BlackBerry ever. The Bold 9800 slider, expected on AT&T this summer, is also looking more and more attractive every day, so now could be a good time to hold off on upgrading your smartphone.

The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is currently available on contract for $199.99 through Sprint and $149.99 via Verizon, after rebates.

And additional information on the BlackBerry Bold 9650 can be found on RIM's website.

AS

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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