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RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700 announced; T-Mobile and AT&T bound

Research In Motion introduces the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700, which will be available from T-Mobile and AT&T for the holiday season.

RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700
RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700

This post was updated on October 21 at 8:30 a.m. PDT with official pricing from AT&T and T-Mobile.

On Wednesday, Research In Motion unveiled its newest smartphone, the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700. It will replace the original BlackBerry Bold 9000, which debuted in November 2008, and offers a sleeker design, double the Flash memory, and updated features.

The most noticeable difference is the smartphone's size. The Bold now measures 4.29 inches tall by 2.36 inches wide by 0.56 inch thick and weighs 4.3 ounces compared with the original Bold's 4.48 inches high by 2.6 inches wide by 0.59 inch deep and 4.8 ounces. It's comparable in size to the RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630, and in fact, the two share the same 2.44-inch HVGA (480x360) display and have similar 35-key QWERTY keyboards.

However, the BlackBerry Bold 9700 replaces the trackball navigator with the touch-sensitive trackpad, which was first introduced on the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8520. For those who fear change, you should rest easy knowing that we found transition from trackball to trackpad to be quite smooth, since the latter is extremely responsive.

The Bold 9700 is equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack and features a slightly revamped leatherette back. Overall, RIM is hoping the sleeker design will appeal to both men and women, since the BlackBerry Bold skewed a bit more to the masculine side.

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 offers more than cosmetic changes, however. The smartphone is equipped with a next-generation 624MHz processor and has double the Flash memory at 256MB (expandable up to 32GB via the microSD slot). Like the recently announced BlackBerry Storm 2, the Bold will run BlackBerry OS 5.0, which brings such improvements as threaded text messaging and a faster browser and BlackBerry Maps application. The camera has also been upgraded from 2 megapixels to 3.2 megapixels.

The Bold 9700 is a quad-band GSM phone that also integrated Wi-Fi with UMA support, Bluetooth, GPS/A-GPS, and 3G support (UMTS/HSDPA 800/850/1900/2100; UMTS/HSDPA 900/1700/2100). Given the supported bands, we know you're already thinking about possible carriers and availability, so here's the dish.

RIM expects the BlackBerry Bold 9700 to be available from carriers worldwide starting in November, including AT&T and T-Mobile. AT&T said the smartphone will ship in the coming weeks for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a mail-in rebate. T-Mobile's version will also cost $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and be available in time for the holidays; and yes, the Bold 9700 will support Wi-Fi calling. We hope we'll get review units soon, so we can let you know whether it'll make a nice little holiday treat or not.