Very good review. Perhaps some images and screenshots to go with it?
So, picked up a BB 9900 for work to replace my aging and failing BB 8900. While this is a secondary phone to my N1, I still use it a lot and deal with all the BlackBerries at our current company so figured I'd throw up some quick notes and thoughts about it.
Pulling the 9900 out of the box, I was immediately reminded of my old BB 9000 Bold from years back. Sure it's changed and is thinner, but even holding it up side by side doesn't show a large evolution in design. On one hand it's what everyone seems to talk about and how they need to improve their designs but on the other hand, short of the now phased-out scroll wheel, the design is solid. My 9000 stood up to a year of torture from me and then was passed on to my GF before being replaced by the Samsung Galaxy S. The 9000 crapped out shortly after but 2 years of service isn't bad considering the abuse it received (it was dropped several times, kicked, and had some water damage).
Back to the 9900, I'm hoping for the same great quality in the long run. For now, I'll say this. The materials used in it are excellent. There is no movement in any of the panels or keyboard at all. Still getting used to the touch-pad but the fact that it has a touch screen makes it much easier to work with. It's far lighter in feel than the 9000 and the 8900.
On the back, the edges, which feel like rubberized plastic, and the back panel over great grip and it doesn't feel like it'll be easy to drop.
It's very thin, about the same as my N1 when placed side by side. It's much wider than the N1 but fits fine within my hand and is comfortable to hold.
The keyboard, options buttons, and even the ring around the trackpad have a white backlight to them making it nicely visible in the dark.
There are a few things I don't like about it. Firstly, there's only on customizable button on it. I know this is more the OS than hardware but it would be nice to have two or three to make work faster. Secondly, the top lock button is recessed in just enough to where it's not always comfortable to use. Having to click on it is actually awkward unless I hold the top half of the phone. Also, the battery cover isn't the easiest to remove. I had to use a screwdriver to pry it open and hopefully it loosens a bit over time. Lastly, the microSD card cannot be swapped without removing the battery. The BB 9000 had it on the side, the 8900 had it under the cover but the battery didn't block it, and the 9700 and 9780 had it just high enough to where the battery doesn't interfere. Why they made this is decision is beyond me but it's definitely a step back in my book.
Back to the screen, it is a great improvement over past models. It's absolutely stellar to look at, even if it's smaller than other smart phones out there. Emails are legible and by far the best improvement is that the attachments can be read when zoomed in. It may seem trivial but being on the road at times, I have to open an attachment and my 8900 and the 97xx's were just terrible at this. This is, or at least was, the phone which all business phones were judged by so it's beyond my why it took so long to get this right.
Otherwise, colors are very vivid, brightness has not been an issue even in bright sunlight.
Still getting used to the touch-screen on this as I tend to touch just below or next to it as it's flush with the body. Still, it's very responsive and I've yet to come to the weird issue that my N1 has (where I press on one area but the action is registered elsewhere on the screen).
Perfect sized, solid, and responsive. That just about describes it to the letter. There is no play with it, the keys are nicely spaced and sized, and they're raised just enough to not be intrusive. Great job RIM.
While I've been stuck in the past with BB OS5, I have dabbed into OS6 with all of the phones that come and go so I have an idea of it, just no long term use. From the first time I used OS6 and now OS7, not a lot has changed. It still has the same panels, still the same cluster mess of icons, at least in my mind, but it seems to be more responsive, be it the modifications made to OS7 or the 1.2GHz processor.
Still, I like it more than past BlackBerries. It has a notification system similar to Android but goes more in depth to provide calender items, phone calls, messages, and the ability to change your radio settings.
Overall, it's an improvement to OS5 but as it's been stated when OS6 came out, it can be confusing to older generation of users and those not very technologically inclined. I myself was a bit lost at the beginning but after 5 or so minutes of use, was ok.
Web browsing is much better than before. I'm sure that it's a "4G" handset helps with this but it's a much improved experience. Pinch-to-zoom is a welcome edition to the browser and along with the touchpad, it makes for a very enjoyable time compared to past BlackBerries.
One thing I cannot stand is the lack of phone lock. Sure you can set it to lock the screen and keypad or change the password timeout to a few minutes but I would want to gave this feature available so I can manually set it.
Compared the the BB 8900, reception is far improved on this phone. We have terrible coverage in our building, regardless of carrier, and I am able to get 4G with 3 bars on the 9900. This almost makes up for the lack of UMA.
Ah my pocket test. Every phone that I have I keep in my back pockets. This keeps them away from keys, loose change, and an overloaded pocket but there are two issues with this. Firstly, if a phone is too thick it becomes uncomfortable. Secondly, I sit on the phones so it puts stress on the phone as I sit in my car, train, bus, etc, with them there unless it's a long ride or I need access to it.
The 9900, due to it's slimness, is very comfortable in this sense. Too early to test the durability but no cracked screen or creaking yet.
to update later
Since it has been only a day since I've had this phone so I have not really had time to judge the cell reception during calls, how well it holds reception, the media player, and the battery life. All will come later.
Impression so far
If you're going to get a BlackBerry, this is the one to get. The latest OS with the best processor in a BlackBerry so far. 4G definitely helps with web pages as does the new system. Fit and finish is by far the best with some great materials used on a BlackBerry for some time now.
Still, the lack of UMA and flash are just inexcusable. Android can have flash on slower processors than this and this is the first T-Mobile BlackBerry in some time to drop the UMA feature. This can be a key, if not vital, feature for some users and I know I am one of them. Then there's the price. At $299.99, it's steep even for a BlackBerry. I'm sure it'll go down shortly but just too high of a price in my book since you can get much more capable phones that aren't BlackBerries for cheaper, HTC Sensation 4G comes to mind.
Overall, I can't argue that this is the first BlackBerry in a while that actually is worth the upgrade over past phones. I'm one to stick with phones until a viable upgrade is around. If you absolutely need a BlackBerry, look no further than the 9900 unless you can live without the keyboard. Hopefully an upgrade withh be available in the near future to add the UMA feature on.
After using HTC G2 for 6 month my wife and I decided to go back to Blackberry. While $299 is too expensive, it won't stop BB fans. Lack of UMA will. When we discovered this we simply decided against the 9900. It may come later but WiFi calling as an add on is not nearly as good as UMA. We now use MyTouch 4G slide and are much happier. Enough so that we probably will no longer consider Blackberry.
Wanted to do a quick update. I switched jobs so no more 9900 for me but I had a few weeks to use it so can give ideas of it.
For me, BlackBerries were always known for two things; 1) excellent battery life and 2) great reception. Sadly, the 9900 broke this as it had one of the worst battery performances that I have seen in a BB. I only used it for email, calls, occasional web browsing, and checking maps once in a great while, I have my Nexus One for everything else. From this usage, it would last one full day and I would get maybe an hour or two the next day before it would power off.
Reception, on the other hand, was amazing. The old office and my room both made it nearly impossible to have a call indoors. I relied on UMA from the previous BB's and was a bit worried to learn the 9900 didn't have it out of the box. Well, I had full bars and "4G" signal in the office and half strength in my room and was able to hear crystal clear at either location. Even the people in the office that upgraded where happy and didn't complain about the lack of UMA.
Earlier, I had complained how there was no option to assign lock phone to any of the buttons. The most you could do was lock the screen and keys. While an annoyance at first, I did find this pretty nice in the end. I used to lock the phone but still accidentally make calls, sometimes to the police. With the 9900, I would lock the phone and then lock the screen and keys and did not have the issue anymore. I could also just lock the screen and keys if I didn't plan to hide it for long. So what was an annoyance at first became a welcome combination. Still, there should be an option for it.
The keypad was one of the best I've used on a BB. I do have larger hands and found it comfortable to use. The keys provided solid feedback when pressed, didn't move around when pressed, and were properly sized. The backlight on them and the touchpad were a nice touch. Sadly the phone was taken away prior to making a video or taking a picture of either. Sorry guys.
The display, while still sized very close to the BB 9000 Bold, was a great improvement. It responded well in high lit areas and was very clear. The ability to zoom into documents and see them clearly was a much welcome improvement over past OSes.
While it is a large handset, no denying it, I was never under the impression that it was overly large or heavy. Due to its thinness, it was the perfect size for me and RIM made great use of this for the display and keyboard.
I did drop the phone two or three times, left it in a car that was out in the sun for hours, and the phone held up great. I still like my 1.5 to 2 year tests but initial signs were good. The back cover, which was hard to remove in the beginning, stayed just the same even after multiple removals. I had to use a flat head to remove it and get to the MicroSD card.
In the end, I was really happy with the phone. While still a BB, it was the first one that really excited me to use one again due to the large size but comfortable weight, great touch-screen, and properly sized keyboard. I wish I had more time but for those looking for a new BB, I definitely recommend taking a look at this.
Next up, hopefully the Samsung Galaxy Nexus review. Just waiting for it to arrive.