BlackBerry fans eager to upgrade to the new Bold 9700 are scooping them up from overseas stores and back-channel importers – and at less than $700, who can blame them?
Keen to step up from your BlackBerry Bold 9000 or an earlier GSM-only BlackBerry to the small and snazzy Bold 9700
You can wait for local carriers to add RIM’s latest smartphone to their menu, starting from late November (Optus, Telstra,Vodafone and 3 will all carry the Bold 9700 but none have named a firm date for its release), and then move onto a new and possibly more expensive contract.
You could buy the Bold 9700 outright from BlackBerryStore.com.au
(which despite the name is not affiliated with RIM) and then simply drop the SIM card from your existing BlackBerry into your shiny new smartphone. But it’ll cost you $1,099 plus $12 delivery and stocks aren’t due until sometime in late November.
Or you could jump online, snap up a Bold 9700 for less than $700 and have it by next week.
That’s the option which many Australian BlackBerry fans are taking, thanks to some top deals bringing in factory-fresh and unlocked Bold 9700s from the US and the UK.
That the phones are unlocked is particularly appealing to globetrotting BlackBerry users, as it lets them use a local carrier’s prepaid SIM card when travelling overseas to pay much cheaper call rates.1 Sale a Day
currently has the Blackberry 9700 (which it also calls by its ‘Bold 2’ and ‘Onyx’ codenames) listed for $699 plus $10 shipping. A company spokesperson told APC that delivery time is “about 4-5 business days”, and the deal runs out at midnight tonight, Friday November 13th.
APC was told that 1 Sale a Day’s Bold 9700 stock is “sourced from the US”, specifically from US carrier T-Mobile, and carries the T-Mobile branding.
UK etailer HandTec
has the Bold 9700 even cheaper, at $655 (based on the current exchange rate against HandTec’s £378.68 pre-VAT price, as international buyers aren’t charged VAT).
There’s another $63 (£34.90) for FedEx delivery to Australia, with a shipping time of 2-5 days according to the site.
Both of these Bold 9700s offered by 1 Sale a Day and HandTec are the model which treats 2100MHz and 900MHz as 3G HSDPA bands. This makes them perfect for the dual-band networks of Optus and Vodafone, which use 2100MHz in the major cities and 900MHz for regional areas (Optus markets its dual-band network as ‘Yes G’).
They’ll also work on 3’s more limited 3G network, but as there’s no support for 850MHz as a 3G band you won’t be able to take advantage of roaming onto Telstra’s Next G network when outside of 3’s own network. (This tag-team of 3G and Next G is what 3 calls its Mega 3G service, with the Next G coverage falling into 3’s ‘3G Roaming Zone’).
Telstra customers, and 3 customers who are desirous of Next G roaming, should look to the local outlet for UK gadget etailer Expansys
, which lists the Bold 9700 in its Next G-friendly 850MHz and 2100MHz variant at $639, with $55 international shipping and delivery in 2-5 days. However, the site currently notes that “we have no confirmed lead time for this item”, which implies that stocks may not yet be on hand.
If you spy any other international deals, be careful to determine which bands the Bold 9700 treats as 3G. That’s because there are two
versions of the Bold 9700, each packing a different set of 3G bands.
RIM’s official specs list the two models of the Bold 9700 as being for UMTS 2100/1900/850/800MHz
and UMTS 2100/1700/900MHz
No single model of the Bold 9700 contains the winning trifecta of UMTS 2100MHz, 900MHz and 850MHz which would provide 3G coverage on every network of every Aussie carrier. So knowing which
version of the Bold 98700 you’re getting is paramount.Update:
There’s some confusion over which version of the Bold
9700 that HandTec sells, and that confusion is coming from HandTec
itself! Over the past few days HandTec has been changing the specs
listed on its site, and the response given to customer enquiries,
alternating from this being the 900/2100MHz model or the 850/2100MHz
model. At the time of this update (Monday 16/11, 9pm) the Handtec page for the Bold 9700
listed both bands, and we know that’s
not right! We suggest
prospective buyers hold off until HandTec has made up its mind, or ask
the question via email and insist on a reply and a guarantee that they
have the Bold 9700 with the bands you want before
placing your ordering.
A second caution we’ll flag regards RIM’s policy on warranty repairs of a BlackBerry bought overseas.
It’s not just the issue of will the warranty on a BlackBerry from the UK or US be honoured in Australia, but will a BlackBerry that goes belly-up during the warranty period be repaired in Australia or will it have to be sent back to its country of purchase?
We’ve put the question to RIM Australia and will update you when we hear back from them...Update:
RIM’s local PR spokesperson has advised us that because RIM doesn’t sell direct to the public, warranty is a matter between the customer and the supplier of the BlackBerry. If you obtain your Bold 9700 through a local mobile carrier, the carrier is responsible for the warranty.
If you buy your Bold 9700 direct from the likes of BlackBerryStore.com.au, HandTec or Expansys, the warranty rests with them – and RIM’s advice is for customers to check the exact terms and conditions of that store’s offered warranty to determine what you’re covered for and how repairs are handled.