RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100 smartphone
The BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100 has similar specifications to RIM's flagship BlackBerry Bold 9700 but in a more compact design.
- Fast to navigate, same capabilities as more expensive BlackBerry handsets, impressive specifications, SureType software is excellent, unbeatable e-mail service, optical trackpad
- Less sturdy than RIM's Curve and Bold series, glossy keyboard is slippery and keys are cramped, small display, awkwardly mounted media controls
We were impressed that RIM's BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100 offers the same capabilities and functions found on more expensive BlackBerry smartphones. The trade off comes in the form of a smaller, pocketable form factor, resulting in a cramped keyboard, small display and flimsy build quality.
Price$ 679.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 2 stores)
Intended to appeal to first-time smartphone buyers, RIM's latest BlackBerry — the Pearl 3G 9100 — features similar internal specifications to RIM's flagship BlackBerry Bold 9700 but offers a more compact design.
Targeting a similar audience to the Curve series of BlackBerry handsets, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G differs mainly in its smaller frame, making it easier to pocket. The candy bar-style Pearl 3G has a similar, attractive shiny black-and-silver finish as the original model, but it feels less sturdy than RIM's Curve and Bold series — in particular, the rear battery cover annoyingly creaks when pressed and the top-mounted media controls are awkwardly positioned and hard to press.
The smaller size of the BlackBerry Pearl 3G results in a downsized keyboard, in this case a compact, 20-key QWERTY keyboard that saves space by combining two letters on most keys. Combined with RIM's SureType technology, which automatically suggests words based on the keys pressed, the smaller keyboard of the Pearl 3G is quite intelligent and doesn't take too long to grasp. Unfortunately, it remains rather small and cramped and the glossy finish of the keys makes for an often frustrating typing experience.
The RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G's smaller display may irk some power users but it remains bright and clear. It doesn't perform as well in direct sunlight and also suffers from poor viewing angles, but considering the compact size of this handset, it does a reasonable job for day-to-day use.
The BlackBerry Pearl 3G is just the third BlackBerry to possess the new optical trackpad, replacing the older trackball. The trackpad operates in a similar fashion to the trackball, except there are no moving parts and you simply glide your finger across an almost flat surface. The speed of on-screen movement and scrolling using the trackpad takes a little getting used to (it can be adjusted in the settings menu) but it's responsive. It will be better in the long run, too: the trackball was known to deteriorate over time as dust and sweat crept in underneath its edge.
The BlackBerry Pearl 3G runs the latest version of the BlackBerry OS (5.0), but the most surprising (and pleasing) aspect of this smartphone is the rest of its specifications — it has the same processor and memory as the more powerful and higher positioned Bold 9700, despite being aimed at a different market segment. It also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS capabilities, so this is in no way, shape or form an inferior device to other BlackBerry's on the market.
The powerful specifications reflect in the general use of the BlackBerry Pearl 3G. Applications open and close quickly, the menus are easy and fast to navigate and we didn't experience any lag or slow down issues. The main menu again uses a simple yet effective grid format with labelled icons. However, we feel scrolling needs to be improved, especially when it comes to Web browsing. It often takes an age to scroll through a long document, an application's licence agreement or a Web page.
Being a BlackBerry device, e-mail support is as strong as ever. The BlackBerry Pearl 3G supports e-mail services through the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES). Microsoft Word and Excel documents can be edited and viewed thanks to the on-board Word To Go and Sheet To Go applications.
BlackBerry's App World application store is currently available in Australia, though the store currently only supports free applications, not paid ones. At the time of review, RIM claimed paid apps will be available in Australia "within the next quarter," but didn't provide a firm time to market.
Among the many free apps available in App World application store is the official Facebook, Twitter and MySpace social networking clients. Unlike other smartphones, social networking client integration with BlackBerry devices is excellent: once you set up and configure your Facebook or Twitter accounts, for example, you get Facebook and Twitter messages and updates through your e-mail inbox, events in your calendar and notifications on the home screen in a similar fashion to using your e-mail account.
For mobile Internet, the included BlackBerry browser lags well behind Safari on the iPhone. It slightly improves with each new smartphone release, but zooming, panning around a page and clicking links are all inferior and they lack the polished feel of many alternatives on the market. There is also no Flash support and the small screen makes for an awkward browsing experience overall.
The BlackBerry Pearl 3G isn't a multimedia powerhouse thanks to the small screen and a standard 3.2-megapixel camera, but it does have a left-mounted 3.5mm headphone jack and iTunes support using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac software.
The BlackBerry Pearl 3G is exclusive to Telstra and is available for $0 upfront on $59 per month BlackBerry plan, including $400 with of calls and texts and unlimited access to e-mail and BlackBerry Internet browsing.
Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @Goodgearguide
Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook: Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review
- 2 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 review
- 3 Portable power: Venom Blackbook 13 Zero review
- 4 Alcatel Idol 4S review: King of the mid-range?
- 5 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review
Latest News Articles
- iOS 10 slower off the uptake mark
- Hands-on: Google Assistant's Allo chatbot outdoes Cortana, Siri as your digital pal
- HTC announces the Desire 10 Pro and Desire 10 Lifestyle smartphones
- Report: Samsung's overzealous efforts to beat Apple lead to battery woes
- The iPhone 7's sleeper hit feature is its display
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCVideo Conference Support Officer- VoIP, LAN, WAN, RemedyNSW
- FTScrum Master | High Profile FintechNSW
- CCiOS DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Project Manager | TelecommunicationVIC
- FTPositive Vetted ICT positions - Defence intelligence and information securityACT
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- CCInfrastructure Project Manager - DCR ProjectNSW
- CCSenior Infrastrcture Project ManagerACT
- CCTest Manager (HP Quality Centre / Kronos)NSW
- CCFull Stack Application Developer - IoT projectsVIC
- CCData Analyst | Data Feeds | Catalogue and MapNSW
- CCDesktop Infrastructure SpecialistACT
- CCBusiness Analyst - Telecom ProjectNSW
- CCSenior Change ManagerVIC
- CCICT Security AuditorACT
- FTIT Pre-Sales EngineerSA
- CCContract Systems Analyst (IT Security) 160928/JP/653Asia
- FTCustomer Solutions Engineer | Voice | Data | TelcoNSW
- CCJava / J2ee ProgrammersACT
- FTInfrastructure Solutions ArchitectACT
- FTCertification and Accreditation Security ConsultantACT
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- CCNetwork and Security EngineerNSW
- FTOutbound TelesalesVIC
- CCPMO AnalystNSW