With its smart looks and ease of use, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G takes lots of its cues from its older brother, the BlackBerry 9700 Bold. But we’ll be keeping an eye on text input as we put the Pearl 3G through its paces for our full review, stuck as it is with an alphanumeric keypad rather than a nice spacious Qwerty.
In the meantime though, let’s delve into the box. You seem to get quite a few peripheries with the Pearl 3G; our model came with two international plugs as well as the standard UK one, a case which seemed intended for a larger handset, a little screen cloth, a pair of headphones and a USB cable.
The homescreen is nice and spacious, and doesn’t feel cluttered despite the fact that it isn’t huge. We like the optical trackpad in place of the track ball which made an appearance on older models.
The camera you can see there is 3.2-megapixels complete with flash. Although some of the materials used are quite rubbery, the back panel is a sleek charcoal plastic. Retail models probably won’t come with that ‘Property of Research in Motion’ sticker.
If you’re used to typing on a T9 keypad then you’ll probably like RIM’s alphanumeric keypad with SureType input language; the keypad itself is very smooth and easy to use, with the ridged keys offering a nice resistance as you press them. The control panel across the top is exactly like the Bold 9700’s; again, we expected this to feel cramped on the narrower handset, but it’s actually very usable.
The handset is reasonably slender, with microUSB connection, 3.5mm headphone jack and voice command button on one side panel, and volume controls and camera button on the other.
A nice touch is the top of the handset housing the media controls – media launcher, play/pause and mute are all controlled by the central button, with two track skip buttons on either side of it.
The menu is fairly straightforward, although we still don’t like the webs of options you have to scroll through within applications.
Although email is not quite as spacious on that smaller screen as we’d like, you can see here that it’s perfectly usable – even if you are only repeatedly emailing yourself inane messages.
Here’s the Pearl 3G with the Bold 9700 – you can see it is a little chunkier but holds its own in the design stakes – it’s certainly easier on the eye than original BlackBerry Pearl, which was a little gaudy for our liking.