Blackberries have always been associated with the more high-flying business types, leaving us mere mortals lusting after their fancy mobile devices.
But then came the iPhone and Android devices and since then Blackberries have started to look a little less appealing and somewhat dated in comparison.
Enter the new Bold 9900 offered up by Blackberry. Apart from making loyal Blackberry followers drool at the prospect of getting their hands on it, it also to some extent forces fans of competitors' devices to sit up and take notice.
The Bold 9900 certainly looks the business, and quite frankly oozes luxury. Being thinner than previous models at 10.5mm thick, it weighs in at a surprisingly light 130g.
Although thinner, it's still a good-sized device (while remaining pocket friendly) and one immediately gets that 'solid, well-built' impression just by looking at it. The finishings are as superb as a handcrafted watch by a Swiss watchmaker.
Being cast in hues of silver and black, a brushed metal band wraps around the Bold 9900 to give it both strength and style.
On the back is a black soft-touch finish that rings the phone's edges and angles toward an acrylic battery door. You'll also find the 5-megapixel camera and flash as well as metallic logos that seem to float beneath the surface.
Bold 9900 Highlights
The Qwerty keyboard is a dream to use, but then again, Blackberries have always been strong in this department. Being large and having plenty of travel, each key is also chiselled with a slight curve for better grip and offers well judged feedback.
Messaging on this is a treat and it retains all the neat little staple shortcuts such as hitting the space bar during e-mails to add an @ symbol, and hitting the bar twice to add periods at the ends of sentences.
The touch screen is smaller with a 2.8-inch display, but this is a natural trade-off for having such a large keyboard. Being smaller does however not mean that it's worse off. The screen has a 640 by 480 resolution which allows for a high pixel count, giving us crisp menus, sharp images and good video quality.
Granted, it's a bit too small for viewing a full-length movie but that's not really much of an issue. The touch screen itself is very responsive and works well when pinching to zoom etc.
A definitive upgrade from the Blackberry OS 6, the new and improved OS 7 offers much of the same in terms of what BB users will be used to. But the leading selling point of OS 7 is the speed.
The phone is very receptive, from menu transitions to launching applications effortlessly. Switching between numerous open apps does by no means compromise the speed. This follows through into the web browser where pages are far quicker to access than other BB handsets.
Email, messaging and BBM - like all Blackberries before - still remain at the core of the Bold 9900. All text communication can either be viewed at once or split into their respective accounts (BBM, Twitter, Gmail, Facebook etc). The Social Feeds app is nice and adaptable, merging all social networking and instant messages into one place.
The robust 1.2-GHz Qualcomm CPU and 768MB of RAM is the key to its speed. Off the shelf it comes with 8GB of memory but has a microSD card slot, letting users add up to 32GB if need be (this will be plenty of space for most people).
The 5 megapixel camera, capable of taking 2560 by 1920 snaps, comes with 4x digital zoom, autofocus, image stabilisation, geo-tagging, face detection and an LED flash. The addition of 720p HD video recording takes it up another notch from BlackBerries past, with smooth-running images that still look good even when blown up on a TV screen.
The browser itself lets the Bold 9900 down somewhat: albeit fast, it just does not feel flexible enough with displaying pages, such as running the text off the screen as opposed to keeping it within the limitations, meaning a lot of scrolling is needed.
The music player is easy to use and the equaliser makes it simple enough to choose the type of sound you want.
Call quality is as good as it should be, as is the battery life (another staple of Blackberries.)
Blackberry has certainly done enough to keep its current users happy with the Bold 9900: it could possibly be their best handset to date - my favourite hands down.
It has a lot of pull factors, such as the classy design, fast OS and a strong messaging department. And while it might not have access to the same number of apps available to the likes of its rivals, it remains a very very good device for users that don't need all the bells and whistles.
The question still remains unanswered, has Blackberry done enough to entice non-BB users? I don't think so.
Score: 8 out of 10