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One of the original BlackBerry’s best features was its full QWERTY keyboard, which made writing emails and text messages a very simple affair. But the downside of that keyboard was that it made the handset big and bulky, resulting in most BlackBerry users carrying a separate mobile phone for making voice calls. Research In Motion (RIM) tried to address this issue with the BlackBerry 7100 with varying degrees of success. But now RIM has released a new handset aimed at the user who wants to carry one device for email and phone, the BlackBerry 7130g.
The first thing that I noticed about the 7130g is that it looks good. Whereas previous BlackBerry handsets looked pretty dull and work-like, it looks like RIM considered design as well as functionality with the 7130g. Finished in matt black and silver, the 7130g looks pretty sleek and stylish – OK, it’s not going to win any beauty contests when compared to a Motorola V3 RAZR or a Nokia 8800, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction from RIM.
With dimensions of 56 x 114.5 x 18.4mm (WxLxD) the 7130g doesn’t sound considerably smaller than the BlackBerry 8700 (70 x 110 x 19mm) on paper, but in use it definitely feels more pocket friendly. Also holding the 7130g to your ear feels totally natural, while doing the same with the 8700 feels like holding a half a slice of toast to your head. The 7130g is slightly lighter than the 8700 at 120g compared to 134g, but strangely it feels more solid than its big brother.
Obviously RIM has been able to reduce the dimensions of the 7130g by doing away with the full QWERTY keyboard. This means that you either have to use the multi-tap method of inputting text or the SureType predictive text method. If you’re used to using T9 predictive text with your mobile phone, you’ll feel right at home with SureType. I’d go as far as saying that SureType is a truly excellent text input method and I found myself typing emails almost as fast on the 7130g as I did on the 8700 with its full keyboard.
Of course SureType has a major advantage over T9 since there are never more than two letters on each key, meaning that it’s far easier to work out what you’re trying to say. SureType also understands a huge amount of company names, so you don’t have to worry if you’re writing an email about Toshiba, Philips or Nissan because SureType will know what you mean and even automatically capitalise brand and company names.