by Al Sacco

Hands-On with RIM’s New BlackBerry Bold 9650 (Video)

Apr 28, 2010
MobileSmall and Medium Business's Al Sacco got some hands-on time with RIM's new BlackBerry Bold 9650, a.k.a. "Tour2," smartphone at WES 2010.

This week BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled three new BlackBerry smartphones at its annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES): The BlackBerry Bold 9650; the Pearl 9100 and the Pearl 9105 with a traditional “T9” cell-phone keypad. (For more on the new 3G Pearls, read “BlackBerry Pearl 9100: Details, Images and Accessories” and “Hands-On with RIM’s 3G BlackBerry Pearl 9105 (Video).”

The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is one of RIM’s most anticipated smartphones ever. And it’s basically an upgraded version of the existing BlackBerry Tour 9630.

The Tour 9630 is currently one of Verizon Wireless and Sprint’s most popular smartphones, but it’s been plagued with issues related to its trackball navigation system since its release last year—specifically, the Tour 9630 trackballs often fail after only a few months of use.

RIM addressed the issue in the new Bold via a new “trackpad” with no moving parts—and it even decided to scrap the “Tour” name altogether.

Besides the new trackpad, the most notable features of the Bold 9650 are its Wi-Fi support—the Tour doesn’t have Wi-Fi—and its 528MB of application memory—the most app memory of any current BlackBerry smartphone.

The Bold 9650 is also a BlackBerry “world edition” device, meaning it supports both CMDA/EVDO and GSM/HSPA/UMTS frequencies so it can be employed in a wide variety of locales around the globe.

Sprint and Verizon Wireless are both expected to begin selling the new Bold in May, though Sprint is the only one who has officially announced the device, along with pricing and a release date. The Sprint Bold 9650 will go on sale on May 23 for $199.99, after $100 rebate, with a new two-year service contract. Sprint is also expected to offer a camera-less version of the BlackBerry 9650.

I got some hands-on time with a Sprint-branded BlackBerry Bold 9650 at WES, and I snapped the following video.

(P.S. Please forgive the less-than-ideal lighting; the WES 2010 BlackBerry booth atmosphere was not unlike a poorly lit ’80s night-club and it didn’t get along too well with my video camera.)