Specs impress but OS is dated
Under the hood, the 9790 packs a 1GHz Marvell Tavor MG1 processor along with 768MB RAM. This puts it firmly in mid-range territory as most high-end devices are now packing a dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. Nevertheless, performance of the 9790 is still smooth.
RIM hasn't skimped on the extras either as it offers 8GB of internal storage, micro-SD card support and NFC connectivity. The 5-megapixel camera is reasonable, coming with handy features like face detection and image stabilisation.
One of the most disappointing features of the Bold 9790 is the operating system, which just hasn't been updated like rival platforms. RIM has yet to upgrade its handsets to the QNX-based platform, so the BlackBerry OS 7 is shipped with the handset. The BlackBerry OS isn't exactly going to challenge Android Ice Cream Sandwich or iOS 5 in terms user friendliness, and is unlikely to tempt anyone away from those platforms.
RIM does make good use of home screens, grouping apps together in panels dubbed All, Favourites, Media, Downloads and Frequent. It is a nice touch and makes accessing apps easier.
Other interesting features include the voice-activated universal search and support for augmented reality apps. Even the menus are less intimidating than before, as RIM has incorporated a number of icons into the OS – a welcome advance from the endless text-based menus on previous devices.
Like all the other Bold devices before it, the 9790 does excel when it comes to providing access to email on the move. However, it does face a stiff challenge from the Windows Phone platform, which has one of the best mobile Outlook clients built in.
When it comes to applications, RIM just doesn't have the depth to compete with iOS, Android and even Windows Phone. The usual applications such as Facebook and Twitter are available in BlackBerry World, but don't expect the hundreds of thousands of apps offered by Apple and Android.
RIM is set to make a BlackBerry 7.1 update available soon, but it is not a major refresh. It will add mobile hotspot capability and support IP telephony calls over Wi-Fi using UMA/GAN services, where available.