BlackBerry Bold 9790 review
|Review: January 2012|
Last updated November 2012
In a nutshell: The Bold 9790 is a touchscreen phone driven by the BlackBerry 7 OS with the added benefit of a full QWERTY keyboard. The Bold 9790 is a competent business phone except for the fact that its battery life is poor.
We do enjoy a good BlackBerry at S21, and the BlackBerry Bold 9790 is a lovely phone in many ways. The Bold series has always been bomb-proof (not literally: do not use your phone anywhere near explosive materials) and seriously-minded, but the 9790 adds the finesse of the touchscreen user interface first seen on the Bold 9900.
"Prepare to be stunned," proclaims RIM's marketing material, and for once that's not an understatement, for the 9790 is one of the most beautiful pieces of hardware we've laid our paws on. It's much thinner than the Bolds of old, and lighter too, but still retains its premium look and feel. The keyboard and screen are the same size as the Bold 9780, although there's a slight bevelling to the edge of the casing, resulting in a curvature of the keys at the far left and right. An optical trackpad sits in the centre below the screen, enabling rapid scrolling through menus.
The 9790 runs the BlackBerry 7 operating system, in common with the Bold 9900, enabling full touchscreen control in parallel with the physical QWERTY keyboard for fast and accurate typing. It's an unbeatable combination, especially for the core BlackBerry activities of email, text, BBM and social networking. Users of older Bold models will appreciate the touchscreen controls and the greater integration of the various messaging platforms.
The display is much higher resolution than that seen on earlier models. The physical screen size is the same, at 2.5 inches, and this does limit what the 9790 can do when compared with smartphones from other manufacturers.
The processor is a new faster 1GHz model with 768MB of RAM. By modern standard this is slow. Whilst it enables the user interface to respond nearly instantly to touches and key presses, there's a lack of grunt for running apps. There's a decent amount of memory available, with 8GB of built-in memory, plus the option to add memory cards of up to 32GB, for a grand total of 40GB.
Connectivity is outstanding, with all bases covered. As well as 3G HSDPA and Wi-Fi for fast data transfer, the 9790 is a quadband phone, so it will work in any country. It has Bluetooth for wireless connections, plus USB and a 3.5mm headset port. And there's also Near-Field Communication, or NFC, which doesn't do much at present but will in the future. GPS with BlackBerry Maps is also present.
The media capabilities of the 9790 are relatively poor. The 5 megapixel camera has autofocus and an LED flash and does a decent job of capturing images in fair to good lighting. The VGA video recording isn't up to much , but it's sufficient for a business phone. Audio and video playback are good, with excellent sound quality via the 3.5mm headphone jack, and smooth video on the high-resolution screen.
There's one deadly problem with the 9790 though - battery life. The touchscreen and faster processor use up more power than older Bold models, yet RIM made the stupid decision of reducing the battery size too. This is presumably to enable the ultraslim design. But the result is a significant reduction in battery life compared with the Bold 9780. Careful users who switch off features like GPS, Bluetooth, etc when not in use and who adjust the screen brightness will get 2-3 days between charges. But heavy users may struggle to make it through a single day. That's not good enough for a business workhorse phone.
When you add the poor battery life to the generally outdated capabilities of the phone, the 9790 begins to look like a poor choice now. We'd prefer the Bold 9900, although this too suffers from poor battery life. The lower spec Curve 9320 does at least offer a decent battery.
BlackBerry Bold 9790 features include:
- 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash, face detection and image stabilisation
- Video recording (640 x 480 pixels)
- Capacitive touch screen, 480 x 360 pixels, 16 million colours, 2.45 inches
- Media player (Supports MP3, WMA, MIDI, AMR-NB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, 3GP formats plus partial XviD support)
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging, push email with attachment viewer
- Built-in speakerphone
- Voice dialling
- Voice memo recorder
- MP3 ringtones / 32 voice polyphonic ringtones
- GPS with BlackBerry Maps
- Personal organiser functions
- Vibration alert
- Processor: Marvell Tavor MG1 1 GHz
- Internet: Web browser, RSS feeds, GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA (3.6 Mbps)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, USB, RIM wireless modem, NFC, 3.5mm stereo headset port
- Memory: 768MB RAM, 8 GB eMMC plus microSD memory card slot (up to 32GB)
- Size: 110 x 60 x 11.4 mm
- Weight: 107g
- Quadband GSM (1900/1800/900/850 MHz) plus UMTS (2100/1900/850/800 MHz)
- Battery: 1230 mAHr removable/rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Talktime: 5.3 hours
- Battery standby: 408 hours
Got a question? This is the place to ask it!
Please don't ask a question that has already been asked. Duplicates will be removed.
BlackBerry Bold 9790 user reviews
Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!
Average rating from 23 reviews:
Reviewed by Ebrahim
from South Africa
on 30th Nov 2014
This phone is awesome, it had it's downfalls. I really like the sound quality, I wonder what audio chip this device uses. It definitely can be compared to the 'Wolfson' audio chips used in 'Ipods'
Reviewed by mathew tj
on 24th Nov 2014
Battery life is poor.
Reviewed by Mack
on 16th Oct 2014
Worst phone I ever owned
Reviewed by 9790 user
from south Africa
on 1st Apr 2014
Not impressed with this model BB ,
Reviewed by Karim
on 9th Dec 2013
Absoloutely appalling battery life. After 8 months i can no longer use the phone, my screen lights up with a picture of a battery with a red cross across it. Time to move on to bigger and better things ... Apple or Samsung
Reviewed by miranda
from South Africa
on 28th Sep 2013
I just can't use touch screen when I'm unswering a call while I want to use
Reviewed by Billy from UK on 27th May 2013
Love this phone, has everything I need. Downloaded google maps as the blackberry maps is not good. Battery life was not good until I removed bb messenger and blackberry maps, it then improved a lot.
Reviewed by bracey from hull on 25th Feb 2013
this phone is the best bb out i updated the OS and bat life is good last 21 hours with very heavy use so well enough to get me through day. I had bbs since first bold this is small, light,stylish and best BB out
oh and agree as good as ryan giggs
Reviewed by russ from manchester on 11th Feb 2013
this bold is like ryan giggs a true pro in all areas
Reviewed by Lindsay from UK on 27th Jun 2012
Became increasingly exasperated with (typing on) a Torch 9860 so switched back to a phone with a (dear, familiar) physical keyboard. Having now had the phone for a fortnight I feel back in charge of my life being able to communicate on the move effortlessly by email and text not forgetting bbm. Also it's far less of a brick than a 9860 - so small and light I find myself regularly tapping my shirt pocket to reassure myself I have it with me. It may not be trendy but it delivers what it offers on the tin with consummate ease!
Reviewed by Cheryl from UK on 15th Jun 2012
Ok, traded in my iphone for the 9790, was good at first, camera is brilliant BUT then started having problems, battery not very good but not REALLY a problem as I'll charge it overnight, calls keep failing when I try & phone someone, when texting it keeps going onto previous texts & bringing up emoticons, sometimes won't even send texts, nipping into town tomorrow to exchange for a different phone :(
Reviewed by 1981clyde from UK on 11th Jun 2012
Had my Bold 9900 stolen and with the insurance payout choose this model as it was £90 less - really pleased, much better size and just as powerful
Reviewed by Lindsay from UK on 11th Jun 2012
Not a review ... more an observation ... I think you'll find you have the number of pixels on the screen wrong ... sure its 480 x 360 and not 640 x 480.
Reply by S21 from UK on 11th Jun 2012
Thanks Lindsay. You're right, it was a mis-print. Spec corrected now!
Reviewed by CM from UK on 16th May 2012
The battery issue is similar to that of so many other phones - use all the capability and it drains it out - or you get something of significant size. It's a compromise, so I knew what to expect and the phone has been brilliant. The Qwerty keyboard makes long e-mails a joy and the sound quality of calls and reception performance is excellent. So as a business tool superb and I work on the principle it has the capability to do all the clever stuff which is great to know.
So if you spend your day streaming U-tube get another phone or more realistically a pad of some sort - but if you need a faithful communication device (that can also stream if you have a sudden need) then I would struggle to imagine anything better!
Reviewed by RJ from UK on 13th Apr 2012
Caveat: I'm a past Blackberry convert - I also have a company iPhone but choose to divert all call and mail traffic to my personal Blackberry rather than the other way around - I just believe there's no substitute for the speed and accuracy of that qwerty keypad (and the speed dialling functionality it provides).
Needing to replace my Bold 9700 - and as Orange don't offer the 9810 (which has a rather compromised keypad layout anyway) I opted for a 9790. Sadly I've been very disappointed with many aspects of the phone's performance, though to be fair there are some great features which have rescued the 3-tick review. Here goes;
The good... The camera - easy to use and effective, taking fine "snaps". The keyboard - in my experience this is the best qwerty keypad I've ever used on a handheld - feel, key spacing and shape are superb - and yes, I've got fairly big hands... Social media is easy to access too. Browser performance is far, far faster than my 9700, though I miss the ability to adjust detail browser settings. The phone is still wonderfully compact too of course - it's one of the few true "shirt pocket" phones out there, a key reason I chose not to buy a 9900.
The surprisingly OK... the touchscreen/trackpad combination works. Yes the touchscreen is small, but it is better than none, if not quite as versatile as my iPhone for games. The audio player is good too - just not with the awful standard headset (I guess Blackberry are cutting cost heavily right now to survive their business transformation - the headphones seem to be a victim of this).
The bad... The battery. The battery. The battery. My 9700 has superb battery life - it can run for four days between charges with light use and I've never, ever had to rely on same day recharging (even though that phone is now 2+1/2 years old). The 9790 battery actually ran out at 4pm early in the phone's life. OK, I was browsing a fair bit, but nothing that would have worried my old phone. If Blackberry do go bust, I'd wager gurus will look back and declare it was because they lost sight of the things which made them special - and battery life was certainly one of these (what would you rather have; 50% more battery life, or a phone that's 0.5mm thinner?). Other "bads"? The built-in UMA (wi-fi call routing, sometimes called "signal boost") doesn't work reliably, with voice calls intermittently warbling incoherently - this is annoying, I've lost a couple of business calls with this. Orange have advised me to update my router's firmware(!) and in fairness I've not had a chance to do this yet, so I'll try and update my review if this fixes the problem. Having said that, as the router still makes calls without any problem from my old 9700, I consider this rather poor. Finally, the phone doesn't feel as robust as my 9700 either - it has plastic screen too, which isn't best for touchscreen durability.
Would I buy again? Just - as much because buying into a new fixed term deal - with this phone - was cheaper for me than staying on a rolling monthly contract. Though if someone had promised me that a Blackberry 10 QWERTY phone would definitely be here in the autumn, I'd have probably waited.
Reviewed by Shedder101 from UK on 6th Apr 2012
My first BB and i love it, simple to set up does what it says on the tin. If you want to surf the web get a PC, who wants to view the world on such a small screen. Ask your self what you want from a TELEPHONE, calls and messages, fantastic call quality, holds on to signal when others fail email, text and BBM. As for battery life i am getting 2 days use but i do use the auto shutdown option, this shuts down the phone form X to X (X= time you set) fantastic option so no interruption with junk through the night. Media 5 star camera 4star
Reviewed by danny hill from westmidlands on 4th
cant believe i am going to say this but this is the first every blackberry that does not freeze at all. the battery life is great. i use the phone alot about 5hours and i still have half a better left. the touch screen is orsome. it makes it a lot easier to navigate aroung the device and blackberry have still keep the trackpad which i like. i also like about the phone is that the trackpad lights up so when your in the dark you know where it is. it is smaller than the blackberry bold 9900 which i like because i like small phones. so if you want to experience a blackberry get the blackberry bold 9790. you wont be disopointed.
Reviewed by Paul from UK on 3rd Apr 2012
Had the 9790 for two weeks now, was a committed Nokia user but now I found out what I have been missing. As a tool for work and organising it's outstanding, simple functionality done brilliantly. Others will complain about battery life but I am getting two days plus out of the 9790. If you want a toy for social networking and apps then this is not for you, you have to be realistic it's primary job is to functon as a phone which it does very very well. The push email is faultless and the excellent BBM comes in very handy.Peace of mind comes with Blackberry Protect for serious users and the ability to Bridge with a playbook is extremely useful. Not to be underestimated, it's a serious piece of kit.
Reviewed by Gill from UK on 26th Mar 2012
The battery life is terrible on this BB.
Reviewed by david from UK on 21st Mar 2012
Worst phone ever!! Had so many problems, they gave me a new phone, still problems. Lost all my text msg's again recently!! This company will go bankrupt soon.
Reviewed by Bertie from London UK on 28th Feb
Upgraded from a 9780 and am a little disapointed.
Yes it looks ok.
yes it slimmer.
yes its lighter and wow its got a touch screen that as a confirmed blackberry user I sort of find myself not using because unlike on full touchscreen phones its pretty pointless.
But and this is the real downside the stupid battery. If you like the odd Tweet or actually like to use your phone forget it. Have turned everything down or off installed battery boost but it still doesn't make it through the day, such a shame coz this could have been a realy good phone and now its not. Have gone back to my old phone because we all need a phone to last all day without having to charge it mid afternoon.....Drops 2 stars for poop battery.....
Reviewed by Robin from N.IRELAND on 8th Feb 2012
Got the 9790 last saturday, after alot of decision making weather to go for a HTC or Blackberry... I have to say i am over the moon with it... Great for the usual things on a smart phone like emails going online and all the social sites.. connection is great weather wifi or 3g. The touch screen works very well as does the keyboard.. I have found the battery life to be ok, i'm getting more than a day, so i think thats ok for a smart phone. The phone looks fantastic, and i have found the camera to be as good as i expected..So overall i'm delighted with the phone.
Reviewed by mack from LA on 14th Jan 2012
this is an OK fone it has bright colours n looks cool, i love the bbm it is amazin but as i said its not the best fone it snap easily all bb do dat