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BlackBerry Flips Out

Following on from BlackBerry’s dominance of the corporate market, RIM has recently been turning its attention to retail consumers.  RIM is positioning its BlackBerry Curve and Bold as complete work/play devices and the Pearl Flip 8220 under review here goes in a different direction; it’s a BlackBerry for those who want a cellphone which doesn’t looks like a BlackBerry.

Compact for a BlackBerry

The Flip’s compact form is made possible by RIM’s two-letters-on-a-key Qwerty system, called SureType.  The keyboard allows the Flip to be very compact, although the base is quite thick.  The clamshell flip design means that the screen also has to be smaller than a regular BlackBerry.  The familiar BlackBerry trackball is also present.  Closing the phone reveals a good looking lid housing the camera and exterior screen.  This is definitely the Flip’s best angle.

What’s it like in use?

In use, I really noticed the reduction in screen size.  Where the Curve is good for email and the Pearl is just fine, the Flip requires a lot of scrolling to view long messages.  But it does work, and if you prefer SMS or short instant messages to email, then the screen would not be a problem.

The keypad is responsive and SureType works well for me.  The trackball is mounted a bit low for my liking though.  There’s just not enough contact area compared to the Pearl and as a result large amounts of scrolling can turn into hard work.

The Flip’s internet browser loaded mobile sites fairly slowly and when a page is ready the trackball performs as a useful mouse pointer.  The map application was even slower unfortunately, almost to the point of being unusable.

Call quality was fine and the Flip has bluetooth for headset hook-ups.

Should you get one?

The BlackBerry Flip is pretty on the outside and sometimes frustrating on the inside.  It is definitely a compromise, but it looks great and if for a light data user it might be a good call.

Neil Berman

Oct 26, 2008 - Posted by | Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , ,

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