Blackberry Bold 9650 – global email powerhouse

With all the recent talk of the new iPhone and snazzy new Android devices, you’d be forgiven if you forgot that the U.S. smartphone market is still dominated by RIM and their lineup of Blackberry phones. For many corporate users, the Blackberry still rules, and even though it may lack the sex appeal of the iPhone 4, the newest generation Blackberry devices are still selling like crazy.

In our recent guide on how to pick the best travel smartphone, we mentioned the new Blackberry Bold 9650 as the best option on Verizon Wireless and Sprint. The reason behind this is simple – the Blackberry 9650 features the best of all networks. In the U.S., it works on the 3G CDMA network, and when you travel abroad, it’ll switch to GSM/3G. This combination means you get fantastic coverage here, and abroad.

The specifications of the Blackberry 9650 are pretty darn impressive – WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, 3.2MP auto-focus camera, 480×360 screen, optical trackpad, hands-free speakerphone, MicroSD memory expansion, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, dual-band CDMA/EVDO Rev. A and single-band HSDPA and up to 13 days standby time.

Now, these specifications are of course pretty weak if you plan to use it as a gaming device, but if your life revolves around email, you’ll find that very few devices on the market can compete. With a fantastic keyboard and plenty of corporate messaging features, Blackberry products are what you pick when emailing customers is more important than playing Farmville.

The Blackberry Bold 9650 comes with a full suite of office applications, allowing mobile viewing and editing of many popular file formats. The optical trackpad takes a little getting used to, especially if you are used to a trackball. That said, I did find that after about 20 minutes, I was zooming through the phone very quickly.

Travel with the Blackberry Bold 9650

The Blackberry Bold has a couple of handy tricks up its sleeve for travelers. Of course, the global network support is a fantastic feature, but when on the road, Blackberry Maps are also very convenient. Best of all, Blackberry Maps can “cache” their maps locally.

This means you can download maps over WiFi at your hotel, then head out to navigate, without using up any expensive international data.

There are also 100’s of very good Blackberry travel apps – with all the top names represented. Blackberry users can download travel apps from Kayak, TripIt, Yelp, WeatherBug, Mobiata and more.

In the coming week(s), we’ll take a closer look at some of these apps.

Where to get the Blackberry Bold 9650

The Blackberry Bold 9650 is available on Verizon Wireless and Sprint. At Verizon, the phone retails for $149.99 on a two year agreement. On Sprint, the phone costs $199 on a two year agreement, and after a $100 mail in rebate.

Even though I am guilty of ignoring Blackberry devices since my switch to Android, I’m quite surprised how quickly it has evolved recently. If your travels take you all over the world, having a phone with reliable network support is absolutely worth the investment.

Stay tuned later this week for a closer look at some of the fantastic travel applications available for Blackberry phones.