BlackBerry 9720 Review
Build Quality and Design
No surprises here. The BlackBerry 9720 is the quintessential BlackBerry – candybar design, the iconic trackpad and the adored QWERTY keypad. It resembles almost every other BlackBerry smartphone ever made, especially the curve series.
The BlackBerry 9720 is really light and fits perfectly in to your palms. The back panel has a rubber finish and has a texture running throughout which gives the phone a nice grip, while making it safe from fingerprints.
One of the highlights is the inclusion of a dedicated BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) key on the phone’s left side. In truth both this key and the convenience key on the right side are programmable, adding a little flexibility to the hardware layout of the 9720, despite the letters ‘BBM’ embossed into the side of the handset.
[pullquote_left]The BlackBerry 9720 is the quintessential BlackBerry.[/pullquote_left]
The front has the earpiece grill and the BlackBerry logo up top. Underneath that is the touch-screen with its array of buttons finishing up the front.
Overall, the design would please all BlackBerry purists, but the build quality could have been better. Our review unit already had its back panel squeaking and loosened up.
The BlackBerry 9720 has a 2.8-inch capacitive display which offers a resolution of 480×360 pixels and it’s responsive and bright. Though there’s only 512MB of internal storage — and a matching amount of RAM — the microSD card slot supports cards up to 32GB, and it’s unreasonable to expect more substantial storage for the price. It also has a video-capable 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and an FM radio.
Display, Performance and Multimedia
The BlackBerry 9720 sports a 2.8-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 360×480 pixels, boasting of a pixel density of 214ppi. It is a rather attractive HVGA panel with a respectable 214ppi and a nice vibrant colour palette at its disposal. It’s size it its biggest weakness, a problem somewhat rectified on the pricier Q5.
Due to the screensize, this device is not for media consumption. What impressed us most was the inclusion of the FM radio. In the day and age where even smartphones exceeding the 50k price mark do not have a feature as basic as the FM radio, it is nice to see the BlackBerry 9720 have one.
The BlackBerry 9720 has an 806MHz Tavor MG1 processor and 512MB RAM. we feel it these are lacking at times as we often get the spinning clock and prompts that the device has to be restarted due to it not having enough memory. If you’re doing simple tasks and not using too many apps we think you can get by, but for most users this will be one of the biggest downsides of the device.
Running BBOS 7.1 you’re getting the latest pre-BB10 experience, which admittedly comes with a number of handy features for BB fans, such as Social Feeds, Multicast and BBM with BBM Voice functionality playing to the phone’s social strengths, however, it is still a dated OS, and reminds us of the reason BlackBerry came out with the BlackBerry 10 OS.
The 9720 is the first BlackBerry OS smartphone (not including the Porsche Design P’9981) to have a straight keyboard, as found on the Q10 and Q5. So, for anyone coming from another BlackBerry OS there may be a slight learning curve in getting used to the keyboard.
The 5-megapixel snapper on the back produces usable shots in natural light, although macro photography is pretty much off the cards. Low light environments breed heavy noise, although the in built LED flash works wonders to fill out a shot. The lowly internals also limit video performance to 480p SD recording with very weak audio recording capabilities.
Auto-focus would have been nice but seeing as it looks like it’s part of the Curve line, it fits the bill. One thing that has been added to the camera app is the ability to share the picture you just took, making things a lot easier.
The battery is a 1450mAh JS1 and we found it did last us a day. It is also a removable battery so you could swap it out if you had a spare too. Since this is targeted at emerging markets, battery life may suffice. You might burn through the battery life if you used BBM Groups a lot though but it would still go for more than half a working day.
The 9720 is a basic, traditional BlackBerry; it has strong messaging, email and phone capabilities as you’d expect – but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. If you take a 2-year old BlackBerry you’d find that it has the same specs as the BlackBerry 9720, and more or less the same features.
It’s not a bad device, but it will confuse consumers, which the company should be bombarding with the benefits of BBOS 10, not the older ecosystem that represents the many troubles the company has been trying to leave behind.