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BlackBerry phones Reviews
15,670 Reviews

BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip review

Depends on contract

Manufacturer: RIM (BlackBerry)

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The BlackBerry Pearl smartphone isn't new, but the flip, or clamshell, design of the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip certainly represents a big change for the leading business smartphone maker, RIM.

The BlackBerry Pearl smartphone isn't new, but the flip, or clamshell, design of the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip certainly represents a big change for the leading business smartphone maker, RIM.

Make no mistake: the design of the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip is significant news for RIM. The first iteration of the BlackBerry Pearl, the 8100, featured candy-bar styling - like the vast majority of RIM's devices before and since. Roughly a year later, RIM announced a CDMA version of the device for US customers, the Pearl 8130, with a slightly different design-most notably, a repositioned camera lens and an external memory card slot. Since then, various carriers have released the device in custom colours, but everything else about the Pearl has largely remained the same.

That all changes in a big way with the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip. The quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) device with Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) was initially unveiled in September at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment event in San Francisco.

RIM decided to stick with the Pearl name for its newest smartphone, as well as a similar-yet-larger SureType keyboard. But that's where the similarities end. The BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip's new flip design features two high-resolution LCDs, one on the inside of the device when opened and another external display for when it's closed, which lets you receive notifications, see caller/sender ID information, as well as scroll through and preview new messages.

The BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip runs on RIM's latest handheld operating system, BlackBerry OS v4.6, which offers a wide variety of great new features, including the ability to receive HTML email with images, create custom icon-screen folders for better organisation, and even put the device into Safe Mode, which can help to identify and eliminate problem applications. And this phone has double the amount of flash memory of previous Pearls with 128MB, though the processor speed remains the same at 312MHz.

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BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip Expert Verdict »
1800MHz GSM/GPRS networks
900MHz GSM/GPRS networks
EDGE networks
312MHz processor
128MB flash memory, support for microSD card
SureType QWERTY (keyboard)
2 high-resolution LCDs: Internal display: High resolution 240 x 320 pixel color Transmissive TFT LCD, External Display: High resolution 128 x 160 pixel color Transmissive TFT LCD
3.5mm Stereo Headset Capable
BlackBerry OS v4.6
quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz)
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
Bluetooth v2.0
99x48x18mm
100g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 9 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 7 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip is a truly sexy smartphone. Its modern, minimalist design is sure to draw stares - from men and women alike. But it also feels light and flimsy and the shiny black external display panel, the real focal point of its design, scratches easily. The Pearl Flip also features a larger version of the SureType keyboard found on existing BlackBerry Pearl devices, and while the keyboard is admittedly better than those on older Pearls, it's still not as efficient as many of the full qwerty keyboards found on RIM devices such as the Curve 83xx and Bold 9000. Many tried and true shortcuts for BlackBerrys with full qwertys also don't work on the Pearl. And the lack of a full keyboard and questionable durability mean the Pearl 8220's not an ideal smartphone for demanding businesspeople or power users. But that's okay, because RIM has clearly shifted its enterprise-specific focus toward consumers over the past couple of years, and the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 Flip is the company's latest attempt to woo the non-business-oriented masses. And it's a valiant effort. So, while the most demanding businesspeople and advanced users won't likely want to rush to the shop to pick up RIM's latest gadget, you can bet lots of feature-phone-users looking to make the transition to a smartphone will. The flashy device might even steal away some would-be iPhone buyers.

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