The beautifully built BlackBerry Pearl 3G smartphone could be a valiant attempt to attract buyers more accustomed to old-school texting via an alpha-numeric keypad.
The handset has a lovely tactile feel thanks to rubber-clad edges, and is less broad overall than previous modles. But the BlackBerry Pearl 3G is smarter, 3G-capable and more polished than predecessors in RIM's entry-level phone range.
You can flick through the on-device music library, skipping or playing tracks at will via media controls on the top of the BlackBerry Pearl 3G handset, all from one hand. Press the play/mute button and a media library pops up. You can search for tracks, play everything by an artist, a complete album and so on.
The video player is impressive too. The BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105’s screen is not large by today’s standards, but a resolution of 360x400 pixels is enough to show off clips in exceptional detail.
Another likable aspect of the BlackBerry Pearl 3G is the mini touchpad used for navigation. It’s fast and accurate and ideal for scrolling through sets of photos or apps. Helpfully, you can rename and email photos as you go.
Photos taken on the BlackBerry Pearl 3G's 3.2Mp camera come out well and the navipad can zoom in at up to 2.5x. There’s no means of pinpointing an area to focus on, though – something we’d be keen to see. Video recording is equally straightforward. Curiously, clips play back in landscape mode even if you recorded the footage with the phone held upright.
Connectivity is, of course, one of the main reasons to get a smartphone over a mere mobile. Where 3G is not available you can instantly switch to Wi-Fi via the invaluable connection manager on the main menu. Searching for and logging in to a Wi-Fi network and adding it as a preferred network takes less than 10 seconds. Bluetooth is also offered.
The web browser is good but no match for the one on the Apple iPhone. The BlackBerry Pearl 3G's screen size is one restriction, but we also found entering URLs a clunky process. The phone's lovely bright, sharp screen means web images look tip-top and the ability to zoom in to stories and photos with just a click is also welcome. Even so, RIM acknowledges it has some work to do on the web experience.
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