If you're familiar with the original BlackBerry Bold, you'll notice the Bold 9700 looks distinctively different from its predecessor. The new version has a more svelte body that is should be attractive to both men and women. This handset measures 4.29 inches tall by 2.36 inches wide by 0.56 inch thick and weighs 4.3 ounces. The Bold 9700 feels solid in your hand and has nice, rounded curves. You may also notice the Bold 9700's chrome edges and lines between the rows of the keyboard, which add to the handset's classy look.
The Bold 9700 has a 2.44-inch display with a resolution of 480x360 at 245 pixels per inch. Overall, the display is very clear and sharp. Text was easy to read, and images looked sharp and had vibrant colors. While there are other BlackBerry handsets with slightly larger screens, the only time we missed the larger screen is when surfing the Web or viewing videos.
Another thing you're sure to notice when you use the Bold 9700 is that RIM replaced the traditional trackball with a touch-sensitive optical trackpad. During our tests, we found the optical trackpad to be a joy to use and preferred it over the traditional trackball design. Scrolling through lists and navigating menus with the trackpad felt smoother than using a trackball, plus you can select items by pressing the trackpad. For any user who's ever had to replace a trackball on their BlackBerry or who has experienced a sticky trackball, this change to a trackpad is a definite plus.
Below the screen, you'll find Talk and End keys on either end with a menu shortcut, the trackpad, and a back button in the middle. Below these controls, you'll find the Bold's 35-key QWERTY keyboard. Since the latest version of this handset is smaller than its predecessor, the keyboard is also slightly smaller. We felt the keyboard was pretty comfortable to use overall, though people with larger fingers may need a bit of time to adjust to the smaller keys. The keys have raised edges which make them somewhat easier to use and distinguish from one another than completely flat keys.
On the left side of the Bold 9700, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack along with a microUSB port/power connector and a customizable shortcut key that provides access to the Bold's voice dialing feature by default. A second convenience key is located on the right side. This key provides access to the camera, though you can change the default application if you like. The right side also houses the volume rocker. On the top of the Bold 9700, you'll find mute and lock buttons.
Above the leatherette battery cover on the back of the Bold 9700, you'll find the camera and a flash. Beneath the battery cover and above the battery, you'll find a microSD memory card slot that supports up to 32GB cards. The memory card is inserted at an angle, which is unique. In use, we found it difficult to remove a memory card once it was inserted. This won't be that big of a deal to most people, but if you are planning on swapping cards regularly, it's something to keep in mind.