Virgin Mobile Canada has released the BlackBerry Pearl 3G (9100). The Pearl 3G is an affordable $49.99 on a 3 year term or $349.99 on a 30 day agreement.
The smallest, lightest BlackBerry® smartphone is back and it’s better than ever. Say hello to the BlackBerry Pearl™ 3G. Jam-packed with everything you want in one hot little package, the Pearl comes powered up with a SureType™ keyboard with optical trackpad navigation, a 3.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth™
Bad news for those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, because the Pearl 3G operates on Bell’s HSPA network it is currently no available for your provinces.
I have something to admit, I really like the Curve Bold and Storm 2. I also have to admit that I hate the Pearl. While I’ve never posted a review for the Pearl I did get one to review a while back and I hated it so much I couldn’t use it enough to post a review. It was slow, I hated the Sure Type keyboard, didn’t like the low resolution 240×240 display and it was just a very dated design (I was playing with a 8120).
While the Pearl 9100 is powered by a 624Mhz processor and packs 256MB of RAM (both identical to the Bold 9700) plus it has a 360×400 display. I have to admit I was still skeptical. After all it still uses Sure Type and still has a smallish display.
The silicon cases in my video don’t ship with the 9100 but are optional accessories.
The 9100 I’m reviewing is a HSPA phone on Telus though Rogers and Bell will also be carrying it as well.
As I mentioned the display has a resolution of 360×400 which it’s a huge improvement from 240×240. You get more than double the number of pixels! I did find the color to be slightly washed out though it’s not a huge deal.
The keyboard has 5 keys across and uses Sure Type predictive text input – new for the Pearl 3G is the 9105; a version with a keypad that is 3 keys across. While I haven’t used a regular keypad in a long time I’m sure those who are will appreciate the the more familiar layout. Personally I’m not crazy about the 5 row keyboard since I grew up with a steady diet of regular keypads, I’ve never used a 5 row keyboard till I used the 8120. That said SureType works okay most of the time. The 9100′s relatively fast processor makes it easy to use.
As far as WiFi goes the 9100 supports 802.11n. So while I highly doubt the 9100 can utilize the extra speed you get with 802.11n it probably does a better job of co-existing with 802.11n networks in that it won’t slow your other 802.11n stuff down.
The 9100′s main feature is its messaging capabilities. You can configure the 9100 to push IMAP, POP, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! or AOL mail to your device. There’s also Blackberry Messenger which you can use to message with other Blackberry owners. Blackberry messenger will also let you create chatrooms.
You can download Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and even a TiVo program all from RIM via the Blackberry App World program.
There are multimedia keys on top of the 9100 in addition to the volume buttons on the right. On either side are soft keys whose functions can be redefined (by default the right is a camera shutter button) while the left is a voice dial key.
There are multimedia keys to control music and video playback on top of the 9100.
Speaking about the music player I’ve always like one of the 9700 so I like the 9100′s. It’s easy to use and has just enough features to keep me happy.
You get around 256MB of storage built in which you can expand to 16GB using Micro SDHC cards (you get 2GB in the box). The MciroSDHC card is located behind the battery cover – you have to remove the battery to access it. As far as write speed goes I got around 5 or 6MB per second. I have a feeling I would have observed better numbers if I had a faster memory card.
When browsing the menus I noticed how similar the 9100 is to the 9700 menu wise. You get pretty much all the same programs as the Bold. It was hard finding differences so I checked the RIM webpage out. Apparently the 9100 doesn’t have Bluetooth DUN and plus you get some additional audio and video codec support.
I noticed you get a few extra games with the 9100. Besides Brickbreaker, Wordmole (my favorite), Sudoku and Klondike you also get Word Trooper and Texxas Hold’Em King 2.
You get a 3.2MP camera which is pretty standard fare. Image quality is not that bad for a 3.2 megapixel camera. The video camera records at 640×480@24fps which is actually higher res than the Bold 9700′s. Video quality is also not terrible.
The Achilles heel of the current crop of Blackberries is their browser. It takes forever to render web pages plus you can only view one page at time. On the upside once a page has been rendered the scroll speed isn’t so bad.
While the 9100 comes with a 1150mAh battery (1500mAh on the 9700) you do get a smaller display. Like most Blackberries battery life is measured in days.
To test RF performance I compared the 9100 head to head with a 9700. While both are close I found the 9700 to be slightly better. In an area with low signal I found the 9100 blanked audio more where the 9700 didn’t.
Sound Quality is good on the 9100. It has slight hiss and is ever so slightly harsh.
Now normally I find I tend to write a lot more for my reviews but for the 9100 I don’t have that much to say. I guess much of what I’ve said about the Bold 9700 applies to the 9100 as well.
So while I hated the original Pearl I don’t find the new Pearl 3G to be all that bad. Now that I don’t mind the keyboard I’m actually beginning to understand the appeal of the Pearl – particularly it’s form factor. It’s just slightly wider than a feature phone but still narrower and noticeably lighter than a regular smartphone. Another thing to consider is that horsepower wise you don’t lose anything over the Bold 9700. You get a the same amount of RAM the same speed processor and a 3.2MP camera. Of course the fact that you get so many of the Bold 9700′s goodies are a good sign that the Bold should be getting an upgrade soon (for example the Bold 9650 gets 512MB RAM).
In the past if someone said: “Howard you’re going to have to use a Pearl as your daily phone” I’d probably think about chopping my hands off to get out of it. With the 9100 though I wouldn’t complain much if that were the case.
Telus’ discount brand, Koodo Mobile will be launching the BlackBerry 8530 “later this spring”.
The BlackBerry Curve 8530 smartphone comes in charcoal and is expected to retail for $300, or $150 for new customers who put the smartphone on their Tab. Existing customers who have paid their Tab in part or in full can also use the Tab to get the new BlackBerry Curve 8530 smartphone.
TELUS just launched the Blackberry Curve 8530 (a CDMA blackberry). It’s got 3G, WiFi, trackpad, BlackBerry OS 5.0, QWERTY and a 2 megapixel camera. Note that unlike the Storms 2 and Tour this one doesn’t have GSM/EDGE/HSPA built in so you can’t roam with it
It comes in red or silver.
Prices are $349.99 straight up and $299.99, $249.99 or $49.99 on a 3/2/1 year contract with a minimum $50 monthly voice + data plan.
Here’s my review of the Blackberry Storm 9550 (the Storm 2):
Click more to see a quick summary of my thoughts.
First and foremost the Storm 2 has terrific on screen keyboards. The inclusion of WiFi is nice plus my Storm came with a nice bundle. Besides the charger, leather case and usb cable mine also came with a neoprene sleeve and a car adapter.
I wasn’t crazy about how RIM integrated the four buttons into the touchscreen though this is a minor complaint.
If you’re deciding between the Storm 2 and the Bold 9700 (you can get both on TELUS up here in Canada) it’s a really tough choice. I loved the 9700 but the Storm’s on screen keyboard is so good that I can’t decide…
While the only 2 major differences between this one and the original Storm are screen and the WiFi the screen makes the Storm 2 a major upgrade. You can now type really, really fast with the Storm.
While I really liked the Storm 2 I can’t help but think this is what RIM should have released when they came out with the original Storm. The first Storm didn’t feel like a Blackberry, this newer Storm does.
click more to get a quick run down of what I thought:
BTW most of my reviews are in high definition so check that feature.
I liked the Bold 9000 and while it has been a long time since it came out chances were I’d like the 9700 as well.
Turns out it was true. Here are some of the improvements the 9700 brings ot the table:
trackpad (no more replacing trackballs)
smaller form factor
better build quality
slightly high resolution display
OS 5.0 (unless you upgraded your 9000 too)
3.2mp autofocus camera
You do lose a stereo speaker and I guess you might not like the smaller size if you have huge hands.
You still get
good messaging capabilities out of the box
pretty snappy performance (with the exception of the browser)
very efficient multitasking
reasonably good integration between apps
a good QWERTY keyboard
decent battery life for a HSPA smartphone
So while I really liked the 9700 I’d like to see a better camera. The 9700′s camera doesn’t really suck but it could be better. Especially 3.2mp is basically status quo. The browser needs to go – RIM, hurry up and bring a new faster browser out!
Rogers Wireless is the first carrier in Canada to launch the BlackBerry Bold 9700. Bell and Telus will also be launching the all new BlackBerry Bold, making it the first time that all three carriers in Canada are selling the same device.
The BlackBerry Bold 9700 offers sophisticated design coupled with high-performance features to offer users a premium smartphone experience. This 3G smartphone ensures you will receive your emails quickly and reliably. The new optical trackpad ensures easy navigation and the multimedia capabilities mean you can have fun and stay connected to the office. The Bold 9700 allows users to live their personal and professional lives to the fullest through power and performance.
Despite what the marketing team at Rogers tells us, the 9700 is commonly referred to as the “Bold” or “Bold 2″ and not the “Curve”. With that cleared up, lets look at the key features of the device.