As with any technology life-cycle, it's almost a given that my upgrade from Blackberry Pearl to BlackBerry Bold would be a significant improvement.  The Bold is now the 11th "cell phone" I've owned in the last 16 years (if I am counting right), so it's a long long way from the bag phone or that first GE with 30 minutes' battery.  Here's my observations from the first few days with the Bold:

  • Gadget lust.  I was surprised by this one -- I was at a homeowner's meeting yesterday morning, and one of my neighbors saw me take out the phone and got all excited and jumpy.  "Is that a Bold?" he asked breathlessly.  "How did you get one already?"  It is certainly a cool looking device, and the display is especially wonderful.  You can read the phone from quite a distance, with a very clear, sharp default font and what appears to be stronger backlight than the Pearl.  In short, it almost feels easier to read the phone's display than this laptop computer.
  • Battery life.  Comments on my earlier post indicated that it was highly variable.  I set up the phone to use my in-home wifi and left 3G intact.  I got a good 36 hours of use out of the very first charge, and it was not entirely drained when I plugged in last night.   I was certainly using a bunch of the features in that time, so that seems well within reason to me.
  • Size.  It's certainly bigger than the Pearl, and I don't yet have a protective case for the Bold, so I'm wearing it in the holster for right now.  This is an untenable long-term position -- my wife/fashion police officer has banned the wearing of cell phones within 50 feet of this household.  I'm just wondering what it will be like as a front pocket is big.  But, while it looks very big, size-wize it's hardly different from the Apple iPhone.  As with other recent Blackberry devices, the holster has some nice features, in that the phone will come out of standby when you take it out of the holster, ready to use, and the ring tones etc. can be different.  But I also find I cannot remove the phone from the holster without pressing the volume button, which shuts off the ring tone.  Maybe that's "as-designed".
  • Operating system.  All familiar from the last 21 months of being a Blackberry user, but with some nice enhancements.  The Pearl lumped your SMSs in the same "inbox" with your e-mail...the Bold separates them.  The trackball is 100x more useful as it is a precise navigator rather than a four-direction type of tool (especially useful when browsing).  The web browser is now about 90% of the way there -- full rich rendering, support for more embedded technologies.   As if I needed a more pervasive way to be connected to the political blogs in the remaining 60 hours of this election cycle :)
  • Adjustments.  The main adjustments I'm having to make are to the full-sized keyboard (this is pretty easy) and to the lack of or changed keyboard shortcuts (this is not as easy).  The trackball in my Pearl was often rendered useless by dirt/dust/finicky behavior, so I got very good at using the 8 and 2 keys to navigate.  I haven't quite found the equivalents other than the spacebar on the Bold.  I know -- RTFM.  Also the Enterprise Activation is stuck at 99%, and has been for days -- no idea how to fix it and afraid to disturb it.
  • 3G and wifi.  The load time for web pages is significantly improved, though there is still an occasional annoying delay before a page starts loading (especially, for whatever reason, from the bookmarks).  3G is super-fast, seems faster on this phone than my wife's iPhone, and will make a big difference in the utility of this as a mobile device.
Features I haven't had a chance to check out yet: GPS, camera (took one simple picture...the refresh rate of the viewfinder is quite slow), music/video, games.  And I haven't yet been traveling with the device, though that opportunity will come later this week.

Bottom line initial routine use result: Success, and a hugely awesome wonderful upgrade for RIM.  Something else for many Americans to look forward to on November 4!

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