Best Buy
  • Price: depends on contract

  • Company: RIM (BlackBerry)

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

The transmissive LCD screen is not touch-sensitive and feels much sturdier than the tough plastic coating on the consumer-focused Pearl range. The overall effect is smarter, classier and more desirable. We even dare go so far as to say that the Bold is as good-looking as the iPhone and, for business executives, may be the preferred choice.

Initially available only in piano black, which nicely sets off the silver accents, RIM hopes that the Bold will quickly become the sort of desirable product that everyone wants to make their own, with different fascias and onscreen customisations. Just the sort of thing we can imagine City wideboys and business fashionistas doing. It's a handset for the discerning consumer, but it will also appeal strongly to the executive.

The display itself is much improved, with a half-VGA 480x320-pixel resolution and the ability to display 65,000 colours. The result is a detailed and very vibrant screen from which photos and video seem to burst forth. The effect, says RIM's Rob Orr, is a direct effect of the glass of the Bold's screen now being flush against the lens rather than separate from it.

DivX and some xVid video codecs are supported, as is WMV (Windows Media Video) and H.264. For audio, the Bold can play the key formats of MP3, AAC and WMA9/10.

Another notable improvement is in the microphone and speaker. We were able to comfortably watch a trailer for a Hollywood blockbuster without needing to plug in a headset to catch the dialogue, and also found it worked well as a voice recorder.

As with other BlackBerry handsets, it can be all too easy to depress the voice command hardware button on the Bold's exterior and find yourself being prompted to "Say a command". However, you aren't stuck with the feature set its maker provides. Pressing on the BlackBerry button lets you move, promote or demote items from the main screen and you can create a mini taskbar of frequently-used apps that you can jump straight to.