RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120 review

The baby of the BlackBerry range is the Pearl, but in its latest incarnation it’s far from a lightweight choice. Like its big brother, the 8820, the Pearl is equipped with Wi-Fi, a clickable trackball for swift user interface navigation and the same zippy performance.

The Pearl is also by far the best-looking, sleekest and lightest phone on test, scoring the highest in terms of portability and pocketability. If you’re after a way to keep on top of your email without having to carry around something over-obtrusive, this is it.

What the Pearl lacks, however, is the sheer usability of some of the competition. Its keypad keyboard works well in consort with the SureType typing aid for writing brief notes and messages, but it’s a fiddle in some applications to switch between predictive and standard text entry, and feels cramped to use.

In addition, the Pearl has all of the 8820’s weaknesses. It isn’t the best connected phone in the world, you get GPRS with EDGE, which is fine for email, but no 3G or HSDPA, and file compatibility isn’t brilliant, either, with reasonable file-reading capabilities but poor document-manipulation tools.

As with any small smartphone, the Pearl is a trade-off between small size and usability. But, in this case, we feel the trade-off has been taken a step too far: in this company, the Orange SPV E650 offers a better compromise.

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