The BlackBerry Bold 9790 has just launched in the UK. It’s the second recent addition to the Bold range and the successor to the Bold 9780. However considering that handset landed in 2010, the 9790 has more in common with the top of the range BlackBerry Bold 9900, including a processor boost, QWERTY and touchscreen. But which BlackBerry Bold should you buy? We’re putting these phones head to head to Boldly find out what's the winner. Otherwise check out our individual reviews for the Bold 9900 and Bold 9790 here.

BlackBerry Bold 9790 VS BlackBerry Bold 9900: Design and build

At 107g, the BlackBerry Bold 9790 is significantly lighter than the Bold 9900’s 130g, part of this is due to the use of cheaper and therefore less heavy materials. Contrast the plastic of the Bold 9790 to the aluminium trim and glass front of the Bold 9900 and the bigger phone just feels more  premium, although both phones are tough. The more pocketable size of the Bold 9790 will appeal to many though.

Both include a top-mounted hold button, volume controls and the camera shutter (quick (shortcut key) are on the right hand of the body. On the Bold 9900 these are raised metal, which are far preferable to the slim controls on the Bold 9790, which don't offer reassuring when you press, so you're not quite if the command has activated or not.

Elsewhere BlackBerry controls are the same on each phone, with the optical trackpad and home, back, call accept and call cancel keys. The microUSB slot is positioned on the left of the Bold 9900 while the 9790’s is on the bottom.

Connectivity is the same with N WiFi, 3G and an NFC chip. Both phones have 8GB internal memory, which you can expand with the purchase of a microSD card.

The Bold 9900 is slightly wider, at 66mm to 60mm. This may seems like a small amount, but that makes a huge difference when typing, because each key is just a bit bigger and more comfortable to click, the Bold 9790 just feels a tiny bit cramped, especially the keys on the left and right which taper down and aren't quite as easy to press.

Winner: BlackBerry Bold 9900

Here the Bold 9900 combines more pleasing aesthetics with a superior feel and better keyboard.

BlackBerry Bold 9790 VS BlackBerry Bold 9900: Screen

Both phones run BlackBerry OS 7. We're not going to go into detail about how they work here, because both near identical, with Favourite, Downloads, All and Media screens, you can swipe between. Each includes Universal Search, Social Feeds and access to thousands of apps from the BlackBerry AppWorld.

What sets these Bold phones apart from the rest of the BlackBerry range is that they both include touchscreens. The Bold 9900 has a 2.8-inch Transmissive TFT LCD screen, with a resolution of 640x480. The Bold 9790 has a smaller 2.45-inch screen with a 480x360 resolution. Pixels per inch of 287ppi and 246ppi respectively. When reading web pages and email didn't notice a great deal of difference when reading text, which is sharp.

But when web pages the phones look significantly different, the Bold 9900 is brighter with purer whites in contrast to the slightly more yellowish Bold 9790. Off-angle viewing is slightly better on the Bold 9790 though.

When it comes to video though, the Bold 9790 is preferable, playing back our test clips, the Bold 9900 has muted colours more natural and less warm, while the Bold 9790 has a slightly green tint but superior blacks. Contrast is respectable on phone handsets, although blacks are obviously no match for an AMOLED equipped screen.

Winner: BlackBerry Bold 9900

A close one, ultimately although we prefer the warm colours for movies on the Bold 9790, the bigger screen wins through. More space means superior navigation.

BlackBerry Bold 9790 VS BlackBerry Bold 9900: Camera 

On-board the Bold 9790 and Bold 9900 you’ll find 5-megapixel cameras, both take respectable rather than amazing pictures, with a limited but usable flash.

The camera layout is identical on both phones, with extras like scene modes accessed via the menu. However, amazingly the Bold 9900 doesn't include autofocus, resulting in far more photographs being soft instead of sharp. Surprisingly it is included in the Bold 9790 with continuous, one-shot and Face Detection modes, which makes a huge difference in ensuring sharp shots. 

Macro performance varies dramatically too; the following shots were taken in Close-up mode, the top one was taken using the Bold 9790, the bottom with the 9900 - and that was as close as we could get while retaining a sharp picture.

 

BlackBerry Bold 9790

BlackBerry Bold 9900


Movie modes are included on both phones. The Bold 9900 shoots at HD video (which is what we’d expect at this price) at a resolution of 1280x720. Footage is fairly smooth and it's good with motion. Contrast that with the Bold 9790, which shoots at 640x480 VGA and is choppier and softer with some blocking. Sound is clearer on the Bold 9900 too.

Winner: BlackBerry Bold 9790

Stills are superior and although movies aren't HD, they're passable for You Tube. As we’ve said before it’s highly unlikely you’ll buy a BlackBerry primarily for it’s movie mode.

 

BlackBerry Bold 9790 VS BlackBerry Bold 9900: Performance and battery

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 includes a Marvell Tavor MG1 1Ghz processor with 768Mb RAM, the Bold 9990 matches it for RAM, but includes a Qualcomm QC 8655 1.2GHz processor.

In general use we didn’t find much difference between the two phones when testing with WiFi in the office, swiping through web pages is virtually identical,  although the Bold 9790 seems to open web pages a little more quickly.

Both phones used the same removable 1230 mAh JM1 battery. RIM quotes quotes 6.3 hours talk time, 12.8 days standby, 50 hours audio playback and 7.4 hours video playback for the Bold 9900. This contrasts with 5.2 hours talk time, 18 hours standby, 33 hours music and 15 hours video playback for the Bold 9790.

Using the Bold 9790 on a normal day, making calls, with email on and a bit of browsing, it lasts longer than the 9900. We will be performing a video battery test on both these phones very soon and will update as soon as possible.

Winner: BlackBerry Bold 9790

A close one, neither phone is a slouch, but the Bold 9790 battery edges it.

 

BlackBerry Bold 9790 VS BlackBerry Bold 9900:Verdict

For secure email and messaging the BlackBerry Bold 9790 and BlackBerry Bold 9900 are probably the best phones on the market.  They aren't multimedia beasts and the interface still needs to catch up with Android, WP and iOS, but for secure email and messaging the BlackBerry Bold 9790b and Bold 9900 are probably the best phones on the market.

For us the overall winner is the Bold 9900 for the combination of bigger screen, nicer aesthetics and superior keyboard.  Although it is more expensive, at the moment if you look carefully, it's a similar price to the Bold 9790.

Yes, the Bold 9790's battery seems to last a bit longer, but the 9900 is still no slouch in this area, surpassing many of the current touchscreen smartphone pack.   For us the lack of autofocus on the camera is a minor rather than major annoyance, but we realise not everyone will agree. In addition for many people, simply by virtue of being smaller the Bold 9790 will be the winner.
 

Are you a BlackBerry owner? Are you getting one of these phones? Or are you going to see what the new BlackBerry London, running the eagerly awaited BlackBerry OS 10 let us know below.