While our main goal here is to help you best use your current BlackBerry device, we also love to see new devices in use. RIM has satiated us to that end, releasing a handful of models each year. That creates a conundrum for users, though. Do you want to buy the current model, knowing that RIM will release an upgrade in a year? I discussed this in a guest post at RIMarkable, but didn’t draw any concrete conclusions. That’s because the question is of a personal nature. No one guideline can inform your decision of whether to upgrade now or wait for the next model. We can lay things out, though, and perhaps make the decision a bit easier. Today we’ll do just that, looking at the latest releases.
We’re not far from the release of the BlackBerry Pearl 9100, RIM’s first Pearl model in quite a while. The device upgrades in all the right ways. While you could get either WiFi or GPS on the original Pearl line, the new version provides both. It’s also the first 3G GSM Pearl, so that’s another major upgrade from the previous incarnations. Reasons to upgrade:
- Better display. The 9100 features a 360×400 pixel screen, while the old generation was at 240×260.
- 3G connection, compared to EDGE for old devices (EVDO, though, for the 8130).
- Better operating system. The older generation Pearls top out at OS 4.5. The 9100 will start with 5.0, and will almost certainly get a 6.0 upgrade.
- Faster processor. The 9100 has a 624 MHz processor, while the older generation runs about about half that clock speed.
- Tons more internal memory, 256MB. Because of the better OS it can also support larger SD cards.
- WiFi and GPS, as opposed to WiFi or GPS, was were the options with the 8110, 8120, and 8130.
- Trackpad over the trackball. Fewer moving parts means the pad should last longer.
- Better camera. It won’t take professional quality photos, but you’ll surely get better snapshots from the 9100′s 3.2 megapixel camera than the original Pearl’s 2 megapixel one. It improves the resolution to 2048×1536, as opposed to 1600×1200 on the original.
With all of these upgrades, and with such a gap between releases, it seems like a no-brainer to get the 9100 if you 1) like the original and 2) are eligible for the subsidy. The 9100 is superior in just about every way, which is exactly what a new model should be.
BlackBerry Bold 9650
For a while, RIM appeared to be a bit slower than once a year with its major CDMA devices. The 8830 World Edition hit shelves in 2007, but we didn’t see the next upgrade, the Tour, until mid-2009. This was good news for 8830 users, who wouldn’t have to wait long, if at all, to upgrade. But by the time the Tour hit Verizon and Sprint, RIM already had an upgrade in the works. Rumor was we’d see the 9650 as soon as February 2010, a mere seven months after the original. That got pushed back, though. Sprint was the first to release the 9650, just about 10 months after the original Tour. This presents a few problems that the Pearl didn’t face. For instance, much between the Tour and Bold 9650 didn’t change. It got a few upgrades, but it’s not such an overwhelming case that hardcore users must upgrade. Mostly, it’s an annoyance to Tour owners who aren’t eligible for an upgrade (apparently both Verizon and Sprint have programs whereby you can upgrade every year), because it presents a tough case. To spend the extra money or to stick with a slightly inferior device? Reasons to upgrade:
- Inclusion of WiFi. It has become standard fare on most modern smartphones, and the CDMA carriers have just started adding it to their devices. The Tour lacked it, but the Bold 9650 has it.
- Trackpad over trackball. The Tour was unique in that you couldn’t remove the trackball in order to clean it. You can use paper strips to clean your Tour trackball, but even that won’t help if the trackball malfunctions mechanically. The trackpad is the superior option.
- Slightly faster processor. The 9630 clocked at 528 MHz, while the 9650 is at 624 MHz. That’s not quite as fast as the GSM Bolds, but still faster than the Tour.
- Double the internal memory. The Tour has 256MB, while the 9650 has 512MB.
Yet many of the features have stayed the same, including:
- Operating system. The Tour has a 5.0 upgrade available, while the 9650 figures to ship with that OS installed. Both will almost certainly be eligible for OS 6.0.
- Same camera, 3.2 MP.
- Same 480×320 pixel display.
- Similar battery consumption.
There are certainly some substantial upgrades, ones that will benefit many BlackBerry users. But is it enough to warrant an early upgrade?
Is it worth it?
Again, this is not for me to answer. Each BlackBerry user has his or her set of needs, and a new device might better satisfy them than an old one, even the old one was released less than a year ago. Other users might be completely content with an older model. That allows them to wait for the right model, at which point they can use the carrier subsidy to make it a bit cheaper. We’ll keep running these comparisons as new models come out. Hopefully it helps make the decision a bit easier.