BlackBerry Bold 9650 (Verizon Wireless) review: BlackBerry Bold 9650 (Verizon Wireless)

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The Good The RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650 adds Wi-Fi and double the onboard memory. The smartphone offers world-roaming capabilities and the SIM can be unlocked. Nice form factor.

The Bad BlackBerry browser is clunky to navigate and limited in functionality compared to others.

The Bottom Line Verizon customers looking for a messaging smartphone with world roaming capabilities have a solid choice in the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

Just like the Sprint version, the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650 for Verizon brings an update to the carrier's BlackBerry Tour. It's not a major overhaul but brings some nice enhancements, including Wi-Fi, double the onboard memory, and an optical touchpad, to make it a worthwhile upgrade. In this review, we will focus on the Verizon-specific features and performance. For more information about the phone's design and core functions, please read our full review of the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650 for Sprint. The RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650 is available from Verizon now for $149.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate.

The RIM BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a world phone with dual-mode functionality, meaning that it supports both the CDMA and GSM networks. Here in the States, the smartphone will work on Verizon's network as usual, but when you travel overseas, it will automatically detect and connect to a GSM network, so you can continue to make calls and receive data. Like the Tour, the Bold supports the 2100MHz UMTS/HSDPA band, so you can get 3G support overseas. In addition, the Bold is Verizon's first smartphone to support the carrier's GlobalAccess Connect service, which allows you to use the Bold as a tethered modem while abroad. Plans start at $65 per month with a 5GB data cap in the U.S. and Canada (5 cents per MB overage fee) and 100MB allowance in select countries ($5.12 per MB overage fee).

Though the Bold ships with a SIM card, Verizon will allow customers to unlock the SIM as long they have been a customer for 60 days and are in good financial standing with the carrier. Unlocking the SIM will allow you use an international SIM card, but note that you can't pop in a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM for domestic use. In all, you'll get voice coverage in more than 220 countries and data coverage (e-mail and Internet) in more than 200 countries, 110 being 3G. For an international coverage map and international roaming rates, check out Verizon's Web site.

As we mentioned earlier, two of the Bold's notable additions are Wi-Fi and double the onboard memory (512MB vs. 256MB). Though Verizon has a pretty extensive 3G network, Wi-Fi gives you an alternative way for getting online and can provide faster speeds for better browsing and media streaming, which is why we always insist on having Wi-Fi on a smartphone. You also get Bluetooth and GPS, and Verizon does allow you to use the Bold as a mobile hotspot as long as you sign up for one of its Mobile Broadband Connect plans.

Meanwhile, the additional memory will give you more room for apps and smoother performance. There are a number of basic apps already preloaded on the Bold, such as DataViz's Documents to Go, Bing Mobile, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, but you can always get more from the BlackBerry App World. Of course, Verizon has plenty of services to pimp as well, including V Cast Music and Video, VZ Navigator (both domestic and global), and Visual Voicemail.

Verizon offers two versions of the Bold 9650: one with a 3.2-megapixel camera and one without, if you prefer not to have a camera or are prohibited from having a camera phone at your workplace. The camera version has standard editing options as well as a flash and video recording. Picture quality was mediocre at best. Despite having a flash, indoor shots were still a bit dull and had a hazy effect to them, but outdoor shots fared better. Video quality was acceptable and can get the job done if you've got nothing else handy.

Last but not least, Verizon packages the BlackBerry Bold 9650 with a travel charger, an international adapter clip, a SIM card, a 2GB microSD card, a USB cable, a belt holster, a wired stereo headset, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ring tones, and help page.