First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Erica and over the past year have had a bit of experience with BlackBerrys. Ronen asked me to do this review so that I can provide a different approach and view towards the 8220. The 8220 is not targeted towards power users or hardcore BlackBerry users like the Bold and Storm. Rather it is meant to be a upgrade for users who previously had dumb(er) phones and were looking for a little more.
When I first got the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 phone I was excited to see what BlackBerry could do with a flip-phone. As I have previously owned a Motorola Razor and a BlackBerry Curve, I was curious to see how BlackBerry would combine the features of a smartphone with the design of a flip-phone.
The external appearance of the phone is sleek and modern in many ways. The display on the front is quite large—much larger than most flip-phones—and the graphics are minimalist and contemporary. Like most flip-phones the camera is on the front piece that flips open, which mars the smooth feel of the exterior. What makes the phone awkward in its design is the fact that the top half of the phone is much more modern and exciting than the bottom half. This is especially apparent when you flip open the shiny exterior, only to find a plastic keyboard inside. Just goes to show you that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Furthermore, the front and back pieces are two different colors, which may bother some users. Also, the phone itself is large and bulky compared to other flip-phones.
One of the cool features of the front display is that when the phone is closed and you receive a message from someone, their icon pops up on the screen so you don’t have to open the phone to see who the message is from. I especially liked this feature because I use the Google Talk app frequently. While other flip-phones may have done this already, the fact that exterior display is larger and of better quality makes the feature exciting.
The concept of having a smartphone that flips open can be cumbersome. When you have a phone like a Razor, the primary purpose of the phone is to makes calls and send text messages. It is easier to talk on a flip-phone because when you flip open the phone its length doubles in size, placing the earpiece next to your ear and the mouthpiece next to your mouth. Similarly, with a flip-phone, if you are using the keyboard infrequently, it makes sense to hide it. The whole point of a BlackBerry, however, revolves around typing, and it can become frustrating to have to flip open the phone every time you need to respond to an email or a chat. In terms of making phone calls, however, the keyboard for this phone is a vast improvement on the other BlackBerry models because the buttons on the keypad are much larger and it’s easier to dial numbers.
Which brings me to the most important change with the BlackBerry Pearl Flip: the new keyboard. The new keyboard uses the same QWERTY layout (as opposed to other dumbphones T9 layout). Also, unlike the Razor and other flip-phones, there are two letters on each key as opposed to three. I’m sure with enough practice someone could type emails and messages fairly quickly. I have been using the phone for two weeks and have found that while I can’t type as fast as I could on my BlackBerry Curve, I can type much faster than I could with the T9 system. It also helps to have predictive text, but it can be frustrating to correct the predictive text when the phone doesn’t pick up what you’re trying to say.
On a quick note, the new operating system, which is on all of the new BlackBerry models, is much better than the old OS. The graphics are sleeker and the browser is nice and easy to use. With this phone, however, the screen is tall and narrow, which means you have to scroll more to read.
On the whole I would recommend this phone to someone who is looking to transition from a regular flip-phone to a smartphone. It is by far the best flip-phone on the market. However, for someone who would be using this phone as an email- and message-heavy device, the design and capacity of the phone does not match up to the original BlackBerry models.