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Research In Motion Blackberry Pearl Flip 8220
RIM flips it with first ever clamshell BlackBerry
- Stylish front, external display, all the e-mail features and functions of a regular BlackBerry, Wi-Fi, excellent audio quality, SureType keyboard
- No 3G connectivity, no GPS, awkward hinge design, bottom casing feels cheap, slightly sluggish when opening applications
The Pearl Flip is RIM’s first non-candybar BlackBerry handset and the results are fair but not outstanding. Some consumers will appreciate the Flip design, but the lack of 3G connectivity is a real let-down.
The first-ever clamshell BlackBerry, RIM’s Pearl Flip aims to prove that BlackBerrys aren’t just for corporate users. Featuring the revamped interface first introduced on the BlackBerry Bold 9000, the Pearl Flip is a reasonable device on the whole, but the lack of 3G connectivity is a huge disappointment.
Aesthetically, the Pearl Flip is a mixed bag. From the front, it oozes class — a gloss black mirror-type finish camouflages an external display, and silver edging adds to the overall look and feel. It's a little disappointing when it's flipped open. The matte black surface surrounding the keyboard and bottom half of the handset feels cheap and flimsy; a far cry from the front of the handset when the flip is closed.
The hinge design differs slightly from most flip phones. The angled design means the bottom half of the handset touches your cheek when you hold it up to talk. RIM claims this is so the microphone is closer to your mouth, leading to better outgoing audio quality during calls. Although the quality of audio during calls is good, we’re not sure how much this is down to the design choices — there are plenty of flip phones on the market with regular hinge designs that don’t suffer from these issues.
The external display is excellent. In addition to displaying the time (using a fancy analog clock), it also shows a battery indicator, reception bar and the date. The new call, message and e-mail alerts are the best features. The display will show a small icon at the bottom of the screen. You can then use the volume buttons to get further information, negating the need to flip open the handset. For e-mails, the Pearl Flip shows the header and sender, then reveals the first few lines of the e-mail. Unfortunately you can’t view full e-mails in this manner.
The keyboard is similar to the BlackBerry Pearl 8120, but the buttons are slightly larger. The SureType system remains, and once again it’s easy to pick up and learn quite quickly. Tactile feedback is excellent, and each key feels firm and responsive when pressed. Although we would have preferred a full QWERTY keyboard, this isn’t a bad compromise.
The Pearl Flip utilises the user interface first seen on the Bold. Moving along the row of menu icons on the home screen results in a small flash of light shining on the selected icon, and the main menu is straightforward and well designed. Unfortunately, speed is an issue: the Flip clearly doesn't have the processing power of its bigger brothers.
Despite its push to enter the consumer market, it's good to see that RIM hasn’t lost sight of appeal of the original BlackBerry: the Pearl Flip is still first and foremost an e-mail device, boasting the same e-mail features and capabilities of all other BlackBerry models. Unfortunately, RIM has taken somewhat of a step backwards in other areas, most notably with the lack of 3G connectivity. Although e-mail works fine over a GPRS network, mobile Internet browsing doesn’t. Wi-Fi is included, but the lack of 3G connectivity is unjustifiable.
Rounding out the Flip package is a 2-megapixel camera with flash, a media player that handles videos, music and images and voice notes, and A2DP Bluetooth. A 3.5mm headphone jack is present and the bundled in-ear headphones are of reasonable quality. The Flip comes with 128MB of internal memory, and it also has a microSD card slot that supports cards of up to 16GB in size.
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