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Pearl or 8800: What Blackberry 4U

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Research In Motion (RIMM), the Canadian telecom equipment maker is on a tear. Blackberry Pearl is already a monster hit for the company, and is being picked up by folks who typically didn’t care much for the Blackberry devices. The company announced Pearl’s more sedate and grown up brother, the 8800 (full keyboard) and it is already flying off the shelves.

Having tried the Pearl, courtesy of T-Mobile/RIM for over a month, I have come to love its SureType feature, and its minimalist footprint. The camera, while not the best is still good enough to capture life moments. For last week or so I have been playing around with the 8800 (thanks to TeleNav) and my initial impressions aren’t too good.

The battery life is not all that great, and I really don’t care much for the new keyboard which feels cramped and lacks the tactile feedback of the older models such as the 8700. The voice quality, however is much enhanced despite being on a Cingular network. (Read Walt Mossberg’s excellent review of 8800.)

I am more inclined to opt for Blackberry Pearl at this point, but would love your feedback. If you are a Blackberry Pearl owner, share your thoughts. If not, which of the two devices do you think might get your Dollars, Pounds, Euros and Rupees. (PS: I am using the popular GSM/US models, and the names and model #s might vary with country/wireless networks.)

21 Responses to “Pearl or 8800: What Blackberry 4U”

  1. guys blackberry was so uncool desing wise. Now the pearl is a total different story. I always got around checking my emails otherwise but now picked up a pearl. Got it for a months and love it. Finally a sleek design.

  2. I just picked up the 8800. I was using an 8700 for a while. The keyboard took some getting used to, but I’m fine with it now. I use the GPS often and even Bluetooth and have been VERY happy with the battery life. I don’t miss the camera or having WiFi at all.

  3. I had a Treo and a E61 before my pearl – I was convinced I needed a qwerty phone as well as 3G, wifi etc

    Since getting the pearl, I haven’t looked back since. Suretype works well and while I loved the idea of having wifi, 3g – I just didn’t use it.

    Also, the Nokia interface and lousy performance drove me nuts in the end.

  4. The Pearl and the other more compact BBs seem to me to be RIMs attempt to move beyond the business user to the consumer market. Yeah, it’s sexy (and I did think about getting one), but it’s just not usable for any length of time.

    A very smart user told me it worked for him for a week or so but then when he stopped looking at the screen all the time to verify that it had guessed the right words, he found he was getting all sorts of errors and ended up going back to the 8700.

    Google apps and Gmail work really well on the 8700, btw. It’s the keyboard and wide screen that make them work. So I don’t see how Google is a threat to RIM here. I use them in concert.

  5. Any RIM would do but problem is the network. You said… “The voice quality, however is much enhanced despite being on a Cingular network.” Well according to, 8800 has a hard time being up the EDGE network. I have a Pearl unlocked so that I use it with Cingular and it has the same issue.

  6. I have all 3 Blackberry’s + the Nokia E61. Basically all these phones blow! I am going back to the 8700 as the keyboard is so much better and the feel in the hand is better than the Pearl or the 8800.

    RIM lost a huge opportunity to move ahead farther in this space. Stupid design flaws on the phone keyboard and GUI.

    But RIM is not stupid, they know they have a captive business and goverment group that will continue to buy the hardware because 90% of the GUI or hardware is irrelevant to them.

    I you are thinking on the Nokia, wait for Rev2 of the E62 the E62i. Much improved and a real contender.

  7. On E61 – nothing has changed. its my primary device for phones and email and it syncs nicely with the zimbra email server. i like wifi and gizmo/truphone calling via E61 so i am still using it.

    Not giving that up E61 anytime soon, though i have to admit, the Pearl makes me want to give up the Nokia UI. 8800, I would still pass on!

  8. Om, R has had the Pearl for months and he loves it. In fact, he got a second one for his India line. It is so small that it fits in a pocket – something the older blackberries did not do. He’s added on SimulScribe and that’s made him a convert for life!

  9. I’m curious about your Nokia too! An E61 owner told me he does 3+ hours of calls per day, plus constant email. Still, he’s only charging it 2-3 times a week. I was very jealous; the Pearl’s limited battery capacity is its only weak point compared with my old Blackberry. After using the Pearl for a few months, I’m not sure I’d ever want a bigger phone.

    BTW, judging from the Google Apps discussion over at, RIM needs to keep an eye on Gmail. It seems I’m not the only one who’s ditched POP + Blackberry’s email client for Google Apps + Gmail mobile client. Was thinking the other day that if I no longer depend on Blackberry for email, my next phone could be from any manufacturer.

  10. Paul Brody

    I would pick based on how much I can lighten my briefcase. I don’t take many pictures, but I can’t live without my music and my GPS for business travel. With those two considerations, I’d go with the 8800. I have been using it for about 10 days now and I’m very happy with the switch, I also took my iPod and stand-alone Garmin unit out of my briefcase.

  11. Om what happened to the Nokia E61? To answer your question (coming from a Nokia E61 fan) I would pick the Pearl. I have friends with it and they gush over it constantly.

  12. Jordan

    I’ve had a Treo, BigBerry, and now, the Pearl. I love the Pearl. It completes me. After 24 hours I was a SureType convert and I don’t know how I ever carried around the larger models.

    The best thing about the Pearl is that I can read emails when I need to, but the smaller size actually PREVENTS me from sending long-winded emails. Which is nice. I can respond briefly to critical messages but the longer replies can wait until I’m at a computer. And I can get back to my non-desk life a little more…

  13. I love my Pearl, but I do find it a little annoying at times. I have had a number of occasions when I have had to lever out the battery to reset it – either because it has stopped receiving e-mail, or (most recently) because it had locked itself in upper case and my password is lower case…

    On the other hand, the small size is a major plus point and with SureType the keyboard isn’t a drawback at all. Only the iPhone might tempt me away…