Review: Blackberry Pearl Superkid

Susi Weaser Tech 9 Comments


Blackberry want YOU. Or at least, they want your money. Which is why they’ve come up with the Blackberry Pearl, which is an attempt to win over all those consumers who choose their phone not just on what it can do, but how many jealous stares it provokes when they pull it out of their bag. Which is basically you lot out there. They reckon they’ve cracked the data vs phone combination, so you can do it all from this one device. So have they?

Out of the box, the Blackberry Pearl emerges all shiny and new. I have to admit, if I didn’t know about the phones magical abilities, I would be tempted to buy it on looks alone. I’m that shallow. I’m getting bored of saying it, but it really does have a ‘piano black’ finish, set off with chrome on the sides, and surrounding the camera. It’s pretty. The ‘pearl’ in the centre you use for scrolling. It’s a great way of getting through the extensive menu, since it works in the same way to the ball in a mouse, not constrained to moving just left to right and up and down. It also lights up with a kind of purplish glow when you start using it which is extra pretty.

The email system itself is really easy to set-up, and is designed with consumers in mind, rather than those who have an IT guy and an Exchange server. You just get on the Blackberry website, enter your email address and password, and you’re done. There’s no entering of smtp addresses, finding well hid settings or anything that you could mess up. The only sticking point is that if you want Hotmail to deliver, you need to pay MSN for ‘premium access’, but that’s an MSN problem rather than RIM’s.

In an attempt to catch up with other phone manufacturers, RIM have added a media player for music, photos and videos. To support this, they’ve included a MicroSD slot, and bundle a card with it, although they’re not clear on what size it will be at the moment. They’ve also included headphones for your media.

They’re really pushing the inclusion of a camera on this one, but at 1.3 megapixels it’s not going to win any prizes. Given Blackberry’s excitement about it being there, you’d have thought they’d have got a better one. They’ve also put the MicroSD card under the SIM, which is a personal hate. It makes it really tricky to get to, and clumsy people like me will inevitably lose/scratch/ruin the SIM card eventually.

There are also certain things seen on your average mobile which you’ll miss. There’s no way of instantly getting into a new SMS message, or your contacts – all of these are done through the main menu. And to put that in perspective, the main menu has 33 different icons to navigate through. There are 5 icons on the home screen, but they seem bizarre choices, including Enterprise Activation and Yahoo Messenger. There are two buttons either side of the handset which you can personalise, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of personalising the home screen. [Update: turns out, you can change the order of the icons on the main menu, which in turn changes the icon order on the home page].

The keypad itself is a full QWERTY keypad, but has two letters to each button. And unlike other models, it’s not a case of hitting each side of the key to get the different letter. So, this gives you a combination of predictive text and normal typing, where you’ve got to keep an eye on what you’re being predicted to avoid having to go back and do it all again. I found it really difficult to get used to, as the predictive element fooled my brain into thinking that the keypad would be set up like a normal phone. I would have found it quicker and easier if it had I think.

Overall, despite it’s faults, I love the Pearl. It looks good, and it stops me getting that weird panicky feeling when I’m away from my computer for too long (I’m not a workaholic. I just hate missing anything). It’ll be available at the end of this month from most carriers. Check out the video here.

By Susi Weaser | September 14th, 2006

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  • Vero

    Thanks for the review! I was tempted to consider it as a potential replacement to my N70, but you’ve brought up a couple of deal breakers.

    Downgrading the camera? No way. I want something acceptable, ya know, where you’ll at least be able to make out the shape of what you’ve photographed?

    And a non-traditional keypad? Either QWERTY or regular predictive text but not this weird in-between.

    So while it looks oh so posh and shiny, we’re not made for each other. Shame really…

  • Thomas Fechtner

    You said there is no way to get right to sms. Just hit messages and then the up key + s and you get to sms only.
    Locking the keypad. Just hit and hold the star key.
    To personalise the home screen just scroll to the very bottom where it says “Organize Applications” what ever you have as the first five will be on the home screen.

  • Thomas Fechtner

    You said there is no way to get right to sms. Just hit messages and then the up key + s and you get to sms only.
    Locking the keypad. Just hit and hold the star key.
    To personalise the home screen just scroll to the very bottom where it says “Organize Applications” what ever you have as the first five will be on the home screen.

  • Tony

    The keyboard uses the SureType method common to all the BB’s withn this style of keyboard. Once you get used to it, it totally rocks.

  • GrayV

    SureType is a hybrid and non way would I want to go back to multitap or predictive text now. I can type much faster than before and it’s intelligence is way beyond other devices so even if the Pearl and I are on different wavelengths for a word, I just delete it, type the same keys as before and it apologises politely and selects the correct word.

    And everyone seems to pick up on the megapixels of the camera because the number is easy to spot, but it’s fine, takes perfectly good shots.

    The best thing is the trackball which gives off an “Apple logo-type glow” and really does catch my friends’ green-eyes…

  • Yollie

    You mention here that you have to upgrade to the premium hotmail. I have just set up my Pearl with the normal hotmail and it is working perfectly! Through 02
    I love love love this phone it has replaced my ipod, palm and phone and I get email from hotmail what more could you ask for..

  • Ian Williams

    I am thinking of buying a Blackberry Pearl but have a few questions. Vodafone offers Blackberry for an extra £15 per month for 8mb, I don’t use more than 2mb. Can you access email without the Blackberry service like you do on a normal phone. Can you delete messages without opening them.
    If anyone can help me with these I would be grateful.

  • Hussain

    I use BB 8700g and it is possible to delete messages without opening them. i am curious to know how does vodafone charge, if the message has already come to your BB device, do you not get charged for this?

  • Hussain

    I use Blackberry 8700g and you can delete the message without opening it. I am curious to know how does the vodafone charge. Are there no charges if the message is not opened even though it has been transmitted by their GPRS network to the device.