No, the BlackBerry Bold does not have a touch screen. Read on and I'll explain why.
Research In Motion
folks began conducting market research focus groups for their new 9000 handset, one of the most common comments they received was that their new handset design was "bold." As the legend goes, enough people called the new design "bold" that the name stuck.
So, this morning, RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis is announcing (at the WES 2008 conference in Orlando) the brand new Blackberry Bold -- the next-generation device they're hoping that everyone will have to own.
I was privileged to get a personal preview from Mr. Lazaridis of the Bold last week. Among the things that strike you right away are the size (it's a full-sized BlackBerry with a real QWERTY keyboard), the new interface (looks pretty), the screen (you will have to see it to believe it) the sound quality (the video demo I watched also had three-dimensional-from-two-speakers, hi-fi stereo sound) and the new Web browser.
Here's what you need to know: The Bold is a super-multi-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA world phone. It is also a tri-band (2100/1900/850) UMTS (3G data) phone. That means it works everywhere -- including North America, Europe, Japan.
There's 1GB of memory onboard with 128MB of flash. Battery life is targeted at five hours of talk and 13 days of standby. As with any device, actual battery lifetimes are quite variable from phone to phone.
There is built-in GPS. 802.11a/b/g Wi-fi too. The Bold also comes with stereo Bluetooth (that means you can listen to the music you store on optional microSD cards using wireless headphones). The plug-in headphone/headset jack is stereo, too. The video/still camera is 2MP and has a built-in flash feature.
Navigation is handled by RIM's modern-day trackball interface (like the Pearl, the Curve, etc.) and surrounding buttons (slightly reminiscent of a Treo in the photos, but less so in person).
The screen is capable of amazing quality. Some of the sample videos I watched looked amazingly clear and crisp. It looked especially terrific for a cell phone.
BlackBerry found, through market research, that their core users didn't want a touch screen on the new model. That's why the Bold doesn't have one.
The screen, in combination with the new browser software, makes this the best BlackBerry yet for surfing the Web. I'll tell you more about it when I get to do a full review, but I can tell you that the Internet experience on this Blackberry is now on a much higher plane -- and older units weren't slouches, either.
The new Blackberry Bold is currently awaiting final approval from the U.S. government (all handsets have to get that before they can be sold). That approval is expected "any day now".
We do know that
will be the only carrier in the United States to offer the Blackberry Bold. No exact price has been announced
As soon as I get my test unit, I'll put the Bold through its paces. After my short preview, I have very high hopes. Can't wait.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.