BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 review: Back in style

GSMArena team, 04 October 2010.
Pages: 123456Ľ

Tags: BlackBerry

Introduction

Berries have been changing Ė in small steps, and big leaps. Sometimes stumbling, other times graceful and assertive. It seems the time was finally right for the Pearlsí makeover too.

Itís been almost three years since the last of the Pearls. But if you wanna know what kept RIM busy all that time youíll have to look up the Storm and the Torch. Touchscreen or the highway wasnít a choice RIM wanted to make but had to.

BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105
BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 official photos

To be honest, Pearl is not nearly exciting as the Storm, the Bold or the Torch. Bringing the budget lineup up to date is not the best job RIM have had to offer lately. But whoever got assigned to it did well. Better perhaps than they thought they would. Three years is a long time. Long enough for people to start thinking youíve given up. Long enough for RIM to know they couldnít afford to mess this launch up. And luckily, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G is right on the money, reviving a famous messenger family.

The BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 is the upgraderís dream come true. A bigger and better display: check. Upgraded camera: check. Premium connectivity: check. Faster processor: check. Slim and sexy: check. We wish it were that simple.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM support
  • Tri-band UMTS support with HSDPA (3.6Mbps)
  • 2.25" 256K-color TFT display of 360x400 pixel resolution
  • 624MHz CPU
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support
  • 3.15 megapixel auto-focus camera with geotagging, LED flash
  • Hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 32GB), 2GB card included
  • Dedicated music keys
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Optical trackpad navigation
  • BlackBerry OS v5.0 with an official upgrade roadmap to OS 6
  • Nice web browser
  • Office document editor
  • Smart dialing
  • DivX and XviD video support

Main disadvantages

  • No email support or BlackBerry maps without a BlackBerry Internet Service account (plan)
  • BlackBerry OS v 5.0 offers basic text-only submenus
  • No FM radio
  • No front facing video-call camera
  • Glossy front is a fingerprint magnet

Letís say it again Ė itís the budget lineup. Not the A team. Simple, compact candybars with little to no fancy features and certainly no fancy finish. Thatís what used to make a BlackBerry Pearl. ButÖ wellÖ the berries have been changing.

As of late, RIM are trying to shake off their uptight image and the Pearl lineup is obviously part of that transformation too. In the Storm series and the Torch, touchscreen makes a lot more difference of course. The Pearl lineup has its own way of breaking the rules.

Traditionally, BlackBerry Pearl phones come with a hybrid QWERTY keyboard. New Pearl is not afraid to offer a new set of users a choice. It comes in two flavors: a trademark half-QWERTY keyboard on the Pearl 3G 9100 and a regular numpad on the 3G 9105. These are otherwise two identical handsets.

BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100
BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 vs. Pearl 3G 9100

The Pearl 3G overwhelmingly upgrades the original Pearl series. Thatís one thing the users will appreciate most. But BlackBerry is looking to reach out to new customers too and the two different keypads do seem to make sense. Itís almost as simple as a hybrid SureType keyboard for the BlackBerry faithful and a regular numpad for the newcomers.

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BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 studio shots

Itís hard to please all really and we donít know yet if the Pearl 3G 9105 will justify all the expectation. It just seems though it canít be another easily forgotten sequel. For anyone coming from any of the older Pearls itís an out-and-out upgrade Ė and an eagerly awaited one too. But isnít it just a bit too bold, too disrespectful of tradition?

Weíre looking at the first BlackBerry phone EVER to come with a regular numpad. Even the Pearl Flip 8220 didnít dare to be different all the way. So ultimately, the question is who the Pearl 3G 9105 is for. We donít pretend to have all the answers but weíre eager to look for them in the following review.

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