Most users would probably remember the Blackberry Pearl as one helluva sexy phone with that extra titillating pearl that you couldn’t stop rolling in its place. All was good of course but it had a camera, which was and still is a security issue in many corporations. It also didn’t offer a QWERTY keyboard at a time when it was what most smartphone users were looking out for. Enter the Blackberry 8800, the bigger, better and more serious note of the new Blackberry family.
Out of the box, gazes would instantly fall on the Blackberry 8800’s sexy chrome silver and glossy black exterior. We dare say with the exception of the Blackberry Pearl, the Blackberry 8800 is easily the next most handsome looking. Plainly, to match such a pretty appearance would require sleek curves and a slim girth notably missing in previous Blackberry devices. To that note, the Blackberry 8800 is just 14mm thick. Also, Blackberry fans will find that the side scroll wheel is missing. Instead, there is a track ball in the middle for scrolling and navigation, which will very likely be the trend for Blackberry handsets in the pipeline.
What's new in the Blackberry 8800 is its backlit full QWERTY keyboard. While the position and size of the keys are decent, the slippery texture will not be favorable where quick entry is concerned. A quick workaround however, is to slide the entire phone into a silicon wrap by a third party manufacturer.
Adding flavor to this little bottle of intoxicating Blackberry juice is the built-in GPS receiver and Blackberry Maps application. Together, these let you view your current location and monitor your route to destinations with ease. Last we checked, map data was available for major countries like US, Canada and UK or regional ones such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Maps of other countries are also available for download at respective Blackberry’s websites.
Another notable feature is the inclusion of a miniSD slot (albeit a little inaccessible) and media player, of which the latter was found to be more then capable of handling common audio formats such as MP4, WMA, AAC, MIDI formats. Video files too are not left out as it supports MPEG4, H.263 and WMV files. Speakers on the Blackberry are decent and could get quite loud.
Taking a step back from all the new features, Blackberry fans will be glad to know that Blackberry push e-mail, Bluetooth v2.0 and a long battery life (22days standby/5hrs talk time) are highlights that have been continued with the Blackberry 8800. Unfortunately, the bundled instant communicator application is still limited, i.e. Blackberry Messenger (other Blackberry) users. Those who are hooked on MSN Messenger will still have to rely on the data hungry web-based LIVE Messenger – pity really.
Although the Blackberry 8800 doesn’t carry fancy HSDPA or wireless capabilities, it won’t fail to please corporate types and Blackberry fans alike with a useful GPS receiver and multimedia zing added to the proven Blackberry recipe. Certain minor things like its slippery keys and inaccessible miniSD slot do cast a shadow on its brilliance but not to the extent you'll want to give the phone a miss. Priced at US$638 (~S$968), the Blackberry 8800 is a good buy for the features it brings to the table - although you might want to bear in mind that this phone is best leashed to a Blackberry push e-mail subscription from your local telco.