BlackBerry Bold 9790 review: Bold and the budget

Bold and the budget

GSMArena team, 27 January 2012.

Old, but feature-rich music player

In OS 7 RIM has refreshed the Music Player icons, but that’s really all they did. It’s still pretty conservatively styled, but most functionality is there, and has been since BlackBerry OS 5.

There’s quick searching of tracks and automatic sorting by artist, album and genre. Creating custom playlists is also supported.

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Browsing your tracks in the music player

Album art is on the list of included features too, along with equalizer presets and the single track repeat option.

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The now playing screen and the available settings

Quite naturally, the player can also be minimized to play in the background. You can then go back to it via the task manager or the main menu. Pausing it by hitting the mute button is also possible, but unfortunately, there's no indication of the currently playing song on the home screen.

Audio quality disappoints

Last time we had a BlackBerry smartphone for an audio quality test, we were left quite disappointed with its performance, so we were hoping that the Bold 9790 will help bring things back to the right track. Unfortunately, the Bold 9790 did even worse, putting up arguably the worst performance we have seen in the past few months.

Even the active external amplifier part of our test wasn't a particularly smooth ride for the Bold 9790. Normally, we are used to seeing great scores all over the field here, but with RIM's latest we were treated to extremely high stereo crosstalk, above average distortion levels and sub-optimal frequency response. Volume levels were pretty low, too, so there was very little for us to be happy about here.

Things got only slightly worse when we plugged in a pair of headphones, but that's hardly any consolation. The main difference was the spike in total harmonic distortion and the volume levels which got even lower. Audiophiles should certainly pick another smartphone.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
BlackBerry Bold 9790+0.16, -0.97-89.489.30.1120.321-32.7
BlackBerry Bold 9790 (headphones attached)+0.15, -0.92-88.988.90.6820.368-34.0
BlackBerry Curve 9380+0.09, -1.07-85.884.90.00560.150-80.3
BlackBerry Curve 9380 (headphones attached)+0.11, -1.04-86.385.29.0483.496-41.0
BlackBerry Curve 9360+0.09, -1.08-85.984.20.00620.189-82.1
BlackBerry Curve 9360 (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.98-85.684.00.3390.298-38.0
BlackBerry Torch 9860+0.14, -0.62-86.888.20.0110.110-86.5
BlackBerry Torch 9860(headphones attached)+0.15, -0.57-86.788.30.0190.169-36.8
BlackBerry Bold 9780+0.26, -3.61-89.787.90.0120.021-89.4
BlackBerry Bold 9780 (headphones attached)+0.24, -4.87-89.587.50.00930.271-55.9
Apple iPhone 4+0.01, -0.07-
Apple iPhone 4 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.07-90.490.40.00360.092-68.4

BlackBerry Bold 9790
BlackBerry Bold 9790 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Very good video player, understands DivX/XviD, lacks AC3 support

With so many better options out there, the Bold 9790 is hardly a device you will consider if watching videos is your priority. Still it does a great job, so you might want to add that to the features list when you go out shopping for a new phone.

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The video player interface is almost identical to the music player

The landscape screen is a good start, while the video player itself isn’t bad either. Its styling might not be too impressive, but the functionality is mostly there.

There are the usual playback controls when you hit a key or tap on the screen plus a dedicated fit/zoom to screen option.

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The video playback screen and some of the available options

The Bold 9790 video player promises to support DivX, XviD, H.264/MPEG-4 and WMV videos up to 720p resolution. It did manage to play all of the DivX files we threw at it. WMV, MOV and MP4 files up to 720p were no problem either, but not all the XviD ones made it. Sometimes we had no audio due to the lack of AC3 codec support.

The general performance here is decent, and is probably more than most BlackBerry-purchasing users will ever need.

Image gallery is nothing impressive

The image gallery has no changes since the OS 6, so it should be familiar to all the BlackBerry users already.

Images can be browsed in grid mode or viewed as a standard list. There’s searching by name here too, but we don't generally remember the names of our camera snaps, so we won’t count that as an extra.

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The gallery

Photos can only be browsed in landscape mode or you can manually rotate them. Unfortunately the Bold 9790 has no built-in accelerometer to provide automatic rotation.

You can skip to the next photo without returning to the gallery – you just flick your finger over the trackpad or do a finger swipe on the screen and you are done.

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Browsing images

Checking an image’s properties, going into zoom mode as well as starting a slide show are all a menu key click away. Setting one of your images as a homescreen wallpaper is available too.

Picture browsing is pretty fast and so are zooming and panning. We would have preferred if the volume rocker could also be used for zooming, but the gallery is generally pretty good.

Reader comments

  • n b

How march

  • Anonymous

This Phone Its One Of The Best Phone That I Have Ever Used 16gb Inbelt 512ram But The Only Problem Its The Battery That All Why The Battery?

  • Maxx

9790 is definitely one of the best phones ever. Internet is fast when on 3G, flash for video and camera, great battery life, awesome sound and radio reception and no problem when putting a memory card, over 16GB. Watching movies is also amazing. Bo...