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printed July 29, 2014
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BlackBerry WES

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Pearl 9100 3G Bold 9650  

The Bold 9650 is the first CDMA variant of the Bold, but if you've used a BlackBerry Tour, you've seen the Bold 9650 before.

The 9650 takes the guts of the Bold 9700 and stuffs it into the body of the Tour. The Bold 9650 is bigger than the Bold 9700 in every dimension, and has a slightly different shape to the phone. It feels excellent in the hand. Again, RIM goes all-out with quality materials with this phone. Everything about it feels top notch. It does feel a tad on the heavy side, but it is not a bulky phone at all.

 

Bold 9650

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The keyboard is identical to the Tour's and has the scallop-shaped keys. I found the keyboard to be solid and each of the keys offered good travel and feedback. I was able to peck out a few test messages with no problem. The keys aren't very big, but the slightly larger layout (when compared to the 9700) are enough of an improvement that the typing experience is good.

The 9650 also has an optical trackpad for on-screen navigation. So far, no one makes trackpads as good as BlackBerry. The trackpad is lightning quick and very responsive. The fact that users can customize its sensitivity helps out. I like it much better than the trackball.

On the left side you'll find only an application key. No other controls are placed there. The right side of the 9650 houses nearly everything else. At the top is the 3.5mm headset jack. Below that is the volume toggle. The volume toggle feels pretty good. It is small, and easy to accidentally press up when you mean down and vice versa, but the action is good. An application key is below the volume toggle. It, too, is hard to find, but the action is spot on. Last you'll find the microUSB port.

The 3.2 megapixel camera and flash are on the back, where RIM has always placed them. It is a bit of a disappointment that RIM didn't upgrade the cameras on either the 9650 or the 9100 3G.

The user interface is identical to the previous Bold and Tour, using BlackBerry OS 5.0. I bounced around inside the OS for a while and didn't notice anything new or exciting.

In all, these devices are evolutionary in the strictest sense of the word and not revolutionary at all. Despite their "wow" factor, they are solid upgrades.

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