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.

Verizon Wireless HTC Droid Incredible review

In this (brief) review, we’ll show off the Verizon Droid Incredible. The Incredible is the Verizon answer to the Nexus One – both phones have very similar specifications, but Verizon managed to add a couple of tasty treats to their device.

On the outside, the Droid Incredible is a sleek looking Android powered phone – a red speaker grille, flush optical joystick (instead of the trackball found on the Nexus One) and a side mounted MicroUSB jack (more on that later).

By far the biggest difference between the Nexus One and the Droid Incredible is the addition of the HTC Sense interface. While Google opted for a pretty plain vanilla user interface on the Nexus One, Verizon got a huge serving of eye candy.

One of the best design features of the Droid Incredible is found on the rear – by layering the back cover, the appearance is created of a very thin phone with a bulge where the battery is. It is actually a very nice effect. On the back is also the camera lens and a dual LED flash.

Inside the Droid Incredible is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of memory, a MicroSD memory card slot and EVDO Revision A support on the Verizon CDMA 3G network. The phone offers local connectivity through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The support for Verizon is important – because it is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the fantastic coverage in the US – seriously, I’ve taken this phone all over the country, and it has not let me down once. Even in an area with zero GSM coverage, I was happily surfing away on 3G speeds on Verizon.

The curse comes when you take a CDMA phone to Europe. Unless you invest in a global CDMA phone with GSM support, you’ll be stuck finding Wi-Fi in most foreign countries.

In addition to the HTC Sense interface, Verizon added a fine lineup of other apps – Quickoffice, Skype Mobile, VCast Tones, My Verizon (account management) . In fact, Verizon has such a large assortment of their own Android apps, that they have their own section in the Android Marketplace, along with some other hand picked Android apps.

(Photo taken with the Droid Incredible camera)

The 8 megapixel auto focus camera in the Droid Incredible is pretty good – colors in daylight are bit washed out, but that is sadly the price you pay on most camera phones. Video quality is acceptable, but the phone won’t replace your HD camcorder any time soon.

Some of the other goodies I previously mentioned are fantastic for travelers – the Droid Incredible supports video output through its USB connector. You’ll need to invest in a $30 video cable, but once you plug the phone into your TV, you’ll be able to watch movies on a large screen, providing some decent in-room entertainment. Another nice bonus, is an FM radio, though you’ll need to keep your headphones plugged into the phone as they act as the antenna.

All in all, one of the things that make the Droid Incredible, well, incredible, is the coverage from Verizon. Granted, unlike on a GSM based 3G phone, you won’t get voice and data at the same time, but to be honest – despite the TV commercials attacking CDMA networks, I can’t even remember the last time (or any time) that I was on the phone and had to access data. Coming from the Nexus One, I also found that the design of the Incredible was “cutting edge” (even though I hate that term).

As the choices of Android phones grow every week, it is becoming increasingly hard to pick the best one – but in my opinion, the Droid Incredible offers the best of all worlds – a compact phone, great user interface and fantastic battery life.

The Droid Incredible is available from your local Verizon Wireless dealer, or most online mobile phone retailers. Prices start at just under $200 on a new two year agreement.

Fry’s Electronics and Verizon Wireless offer no-contract broadband hotspot plan

The United States has always lagged in prepaid and no-contract mobile broadband plans. Especially when you compare things to Europe, where you can walk into any phone store, and walk out with a cheap USB data adapter.

As of today, we may actually be ahead – way ahead. According to an article on, Fry’s Electronics has entered the mobile broadband world with a $49.95/month no-contract plan.

The plan offers 5GB of data each month, on par with all other operators. What makes this plan special is that it comes with the Verizon Wireless MiFi adapter. This mobile broadband to Wi-Fi device allows any Wi-Fi enabled device to connect to the nationwide Verizon 3G network. Best of all – the MiFI is on sale at Fry’s for just $69.95 – which is $200 cheaper than the normal no-contract price.

Access to mobile broadband at this price point is perfect for travelers, though it’ll only be interesting for those that can actually visit a Fry’s store, which rules out most of the East Coast. More information on the Fry’s MiFi can be found here, and all the information you need on the access plan is posted at Phonenews.

Verizon Wireless Touch Pro2 hits shelves with a surprisingly decent price

Several weeks ago, we reviewed the latest Windows Mobile device from HTC – the Touch Pro2. Back then, the phone was only available in a GSM version, and was headed to mobile operator T-Mobile.

As of tomorrow, customers on Verizon Wireless can also get in on the action, and in many ways, their version of the Touch Pro2 is better than any other.

For starters, Verizon Wireless priced it at just $199 (after a $100 mail in rebate). That is $150 cheaper than any other operator (the price requires a new 2 year agreement).

The Verizon Wireless Touch Pro2 also combines 2 different wireless systems, to offer real global coverage. This means you can use the phone in the US on Verizon Wireless using their nationwide CDMA/EVDO Rev.A network, and abroad on any operator using CDMA and GSM/EDGE/3G.

The Touch Pro2 also features a 3.5mm headphone jack, GPS for use with the VZ Navigator and Global Navigator software, 13 days of standby time (manufacturer rating), WiFi, Bluetooth and a MicroSD memory expansion slot.

The Verizon Wireless Touch Pro2 will be available online at and at Verizon Wireless retail stores starting tomorrow.

(Via: Engadget)