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In addition to this, there are almost as many predefined and user-assignable shortcut keys as you care to dream up.

We were very much enamoured of the new user interface RIM has dreamt up for the Bold, the BlackBerry OS 4.6. We learnt from its product manager that Research In Motion's policy is to apply all innovations introduced on one generation of handset to successive models.

Gone are the outdated looking large coloured icons and the signature background image of the highway disappearing over the horizon. Instead, application icons are now sharper, brighter and defined with a thin white border that separates them from the smart black background on which they sit. You can alter this background to something more personal, but we really like what RIM has done here and think many users will be more than content with this sharper, more modern look.

When you first start using the Bold, you're presented with an array of six function icons along the bottom of the screen. These equate to lock, email, contact book, calendar, web browser and GPS navigation.

The time, date, phone network, connection status, battery life and signal strength are all listed in a translucent bar at the top of the screen. All of this customisable, of course.

When emails arrive in your inbox, a small red number appears at the top of the email envelope icon telling you the number of waiting mails. Users of the iPhone will recognise this useful setup.

Texting and composing emails on the Bold is an efficient process too. Having spent the past year tapping away on a BlackBerry Pearl handset on which two characters must share each key, the more generous width of the BlackBerry Bold proved a welcome change. RIM told us that its own tests showed that the Bold has "the highest typing rate of all Qwerty handsets".