BlackBerry Bold 9780: Minor Updates to the 9700

Honestly, there isn’t much to talk about the Bold 9780 except for the fact that it is the first non-touchscreen BlackBerry device to come with version 6.0 of the BlackBerry OS. With Brian having done in-depth coverage of the BlackBerry Torch 9800 and OS 6.0 already, and with very few physical or software changes between the Bold 9780 and the previous Bold 9700 (since the 9700 can in fact be updated to version 6 of the BlackBerry OS), the 9780 is in essence an iterative design with more RAM (512MB) and a better camera (5MP Autofocus) from BlackBerry’s increasingly difficult to distinguish range of devices. However, there are a few interesting updates since our last look at BlackBerry OS in the Torch, so that's where we'll focus our efforts in this article.

As mentioned above, the Bold 9780 is nearly identical to the earlier Bold 9700. Even the most trained eye will find it next to impossible to identify one from the other. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing since the 9780 does look handsome in the typical BlackBerry-esque understated manner, but with there being almost a year’s gap between the release of the two and with Nokia showing that there is potential room for improvement with QWERTY-design templates in its transition from the E6x/E7x to the E5, it doesn’t really look like RIM even bothered trying. That's somewhat sad, as the Torch is a pretty handsome and well put-together device that manages to look different while still retaining the BlackBerry design DNA.

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 BlackBerry Bold 9780 BlackBerry Torch 9800 Nokia E5
Height 115.2mm (4.5") 109mm (4.3”) 111mm (4.4") closed, 148 (5.8") open 115mm (4.5”)
Width 58.6mm (2.31") 60mm (2.36”) 62mm (2.4") 58.9mm (2.3”)
Depth 9.3mm ( 0.37") 14.2mm (0.56”) 14.6mm (0.57") 12.8mm (0.50”)
Weight 137g (4.8 oz) 122g (4.3 oz) 162g (5.7 oz) 126g (4.4 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz Marvell Tavor PXA930 @ 624MHz Marvell Tavor PXA930 @ 624MHz ARM 11 based SoC @ 600MHz
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 (?) (?) (?)
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 512MB LPDDR1 512MB LPDDR1 256MB
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 2GB microSD preinstalled 4GB integrated, 4GB microSD preinstalled 256MB integrated, 2GB microSD preinstalled
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 5MP with LED Flash and autofocus 5MP with LED Flash and autofocus 5MP with LED Flash
Screen 3.5" 640x960 LED backlit LCD 2.4” 480x360 3.2" 360x480 2.36” 320x240
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Removable 5.4Whr Removable 4.7Whr Removable 4.4Whr

At a hardware level, the Bold 9780 and Torch 9800 use the same CPU and GPU, with the same 512MB LPDDR1 memory. The Torch also comes with 4GB integrated NAND, a 4GB microSD card, and a larger 3.2" display, giving it a slight edge in a couple areas. The Bold counters with a slightly higher capacity battery and a smaller form factor. With a few updates to OS 6 since our last look, performance differences are largely going to come from the software side rather than the hardware.

Design and Ergonomics
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  • SonicIce - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    just kidding lol
  • radium69 - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    Too bad the market for blackberries is getting saturated in europe.
    All of the teens have either a blackberry or an iphone.
    The image of a blackberry is getting seriously raped over here. Carriers are promoting the blackberries like mad, with a text bundle etc.

    Allthough it's a nippy little device, I will not buy it.
    Allthough the battery life is as always, good.
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    "the javascript performance as reported by the SunSpider benchmark has improved by a staggering 54% compared to the numbers before the update (which in itself was a decent 13% better than those posted by the Torch, which basically has the exact same hardware specs as this Bold)."

    Lesson in simple arithmetic. When comparing performance numbers that result in better score as "lower", the gain in performance is found by dividing the higher number by the lower number.

    For example:
    10612ms vs 22752ms

    22752/10612 = 2.14x or 114% faster
  • mythun.chandra - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    Agreed. What I meant to say in the review was it executed the SunSpider benchmark in 54% less time.
  • klatscho - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    i have been using the 9700 for 18 months now; the previous OS was terrible, but with the current os 6 it really works fine; i especially enjoy the search functions and the long battery life; the device is quite small and robust; also the keyboard augments my productivity.
    i would really like to see more hardware like this (small form factor, keyboard, long battery life) instead of all the supersized phones that are currently hyped. larger devices are fine for private used, but in a typical business environment, the just not cut the cheese.
  • Kosh401 - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    I've been on the Bold 9700 for quite a while now and love the thing. It's functionality with my job is a huge time saver and being able to use BBM with coworkers and all my friends who have berries has been a nice touch. For entertainment I have a couple games on it but I don't really use it much for games. Play poker the most with some friends, otherwise just good old fashion solitaire. I probably watch more Youtube and check the news more than I play games on it I'd guess. So for me that's all the entertainment I require out of my phone :)
  • tipoo - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    Do we know yet if the Torch is getting that update that improved the Bold's Javascript performance so much? With the same processor it would make sense that it would.
  • Vinny N - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    There's an error in the article...the display resolution is stated as 320x480. It is actually 480x360. Someone must have been thinking of the 480x320 resolution of the original bold 9000...
  • mythun.chandra - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

  • tech6 - Friday, March 25, 2011 - link

    I can only partially agree with this review as it seems to approach the 9780 as a home user device. For the average home user this phone will not be very interesting so if you want apps to show off to your friends and family then get an Android or iPhone. The Blackberry is a corporate communicator and it servers that purpose very well delivering security, the policy based management functionality of BES and the focus of the UI. For business these are indispensable qualities that the competition doesn't yet offer. That is not to say that Android or iOS are inferior but their focus is more on turning phones into media consumption devices than serving business and your review needs to reflect that.

    I also don't agree with the assessment of build quality. I changed my 9700 for a 9780 a couple of weeks ago and it is every bit as sturdy as the Torch or the 9000 and 9700.

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