Announced exactly a month ago, Blackberry’s new Bold is finally released to the public, available exclusively with Sprint. Promised last summer was a Wi-Fi enabled Tour, and although the 9650 has dropped the Tour name, not much has changed from the previous version like World Roaming capabilities and a compact QWERTY keyboard. The things that have changed however, are more significant to the average consumer like (obviously) Wi-Fi and double the onboard memory, making the new Bold 9650 equivalent to the highest-end Blackberry, the 9700.

Design

Hardware-wise, the Bold is almost the exact same as the Tour, something none of us mind at all as it still has a great QWERTY keyboard and an overall comfortable and stylish build. That said, there is one major change and that is the addition (or replacement) of an optical trackpad. The smartphone joins RIM’s latest devices in replacing the trackball with an easy-to-use and very responsive optical trackpad. Personally, we prefer the trackpad over the trackball as it’s more comfortable to use and ┬áthe long-term advantage of the trackpad is you won’t have some of the problems associated with the trackball like debris/dirt build-up rendering the ball unusable. Overall, the design of the Tour is nothing special or revolutionary, but there’s nothing not to like about it either.

Features

Much like the design, the Bold 9650 retains much of its features from the year old Tour, with a couple of exceptions. First, the Bold now has Wi-Fi so you don’t always have to rely on 3G for wireless data, plus it includes a few Wi-Fi tools like diagnostics and WEP encryption. The other difference is that the Bold now comes with double the onboard memory with 512 MB which gives you more room for apps. Although the 9650 was released alongside Blackberry OS 6.0, the phone won’t be shipped with the new software until Q3 of 2010, meaning we still have to deal with, debatably, the worst and most old-fashioned internet browser on any smartphone today. On the bright side, the features that were taken from the Tour include Dual-Band worldwide connection meaning you can use voice and data features all over the globe.

In general, the new Bold is basically a modernized version of the Tour, but with trackpad navigation, implemented Wi-Fi and double the onboard memory, the Bold 9650 has nothing to hate about and results in a great mid-entry level, messaging smartphone.

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