BlackBerry Pearl - Pearl Harbour

By Wil Harris



Our Score:



The Pearl marks a number of firsts for Blackberry when it comes to media. It's the first expandable device - a MicroSD card lives under the battery, awkwardly, meaning you can copy music and video across. There's a 1.3-megapixel camera on the back, meaning you can take rudimentary pictures - the quality is fine, on par with every other 1.3MP camera in phones, but the market has moved on to 2-megapixel or greater. The music player enables you to listen to your MP3s through the headphones, and you can also set MP3s as ringtones. This will, no doubt, appeal to hip kids looking for a portable music fix. But just who is hip enough to have a Blackberry and not an iPod?


So does the Blackberry Pearl do its job? Well, as a consumer device, it's a definite success. It's slim, it looks great, ticks all the right boxes and adds the killer instant email feature. For kids who are on email all the time, its a great feature - and the fact that RIM is already starting to ship truckloads of these things seems to back that up. But email as a personal tool is on its way out, with social networks and instant messenger rapidly taking its place. Couple that with the fact the media functionality is average and it looks like a pony that does one trick well and merely nuzzles at a few others.

As a business device, it's clearly the next in the 'must-have' line of devices. But there's a caveat here - old-school users will possibly find the new form factor and controls too much of a jerk away from the previous iterations, and will likely lack the patience required to learn SureType.

Where this scores, business wise, is with small businesses - the fact that Vodafone has a number of reasonably priced Blackberry plans; the fact the device is small enough to use as a standard phone rather than a dedicated email device; the fact it's swanky enough to show off to your mates and colleagues; the fact that it has simple email forwarding without needing an Enterprise server - it's going to make instant email even more pervasive amongst businesses by growing the marketplace 'downward' rather than just serving as a replacement for older handsets still in the pockets of big corporations. In that respect, the Pearl is definitely a winner.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 8
  • Usability 8
  • Features 9
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


September 24, 2008, 2:28 pm

I have the pearl and am becoming increasingly frustrated by "sim card error" which ocurrs after every phone call, email or text that i send, at least 10 times a day it goes to SOS mode and i have to open the back of the handset , take out the battery and re-adjust the sim. I have never despised a phone so much but unfortunately as it's offered through my work and i have no other option - i'm stuck with it . Oh and did i mention how awful the battery life is- enough said i think !!!!


October 10, 2009, 7:10 pm

This is about a BlackBerry Pearl 8110 T-Mobile Pre-Pay with Unlimited Email & Internet bought for £119.99 from

A revised and updated model with improved specifications

Many of the issues are operator specific.

Could have been a real contender..

Do not misunderstand – you get an awful lot for the money, GPS, push e-mail, IM, and so on. Unfortunately, using what is supposed to be a 'fun' phone is marred by the boring bizniz leftovers and an unintelligent operator.

Firstly, it's not made clear that to enable the advertised features you must buy airtime.. I think that's unfair and deceptive. Once you've bought the airtime you have to send a txt. Unfortunately txting is disabled out of the box. Which is not mentioned anywhere. So, you're stuck. You have to call tech help, create an account on a website blah blah before you get basic phone functionality several hours later at a cost (of £1.50 – thanks for not giving me a refund t-mob). Not funny.

Most of what you can and can't do with the phone is controlled by the operator. This is after all, an obsolete bizniz phone repackaged as a consumer surf tool. A server pretty much controls what is or is not allowed. Presumably businesses like the paranoid control but most people like to use the stuff they buy. It seems that not much effort was expended at the server end to make this a really great consumer experience.

For example,

1. You can't change the default home page on the browser, which quite confusingly appears as two separate browsers, you can't properly edit or rearrange bookmarks. You don't fare much better with the alternative browsers that are permitted as compression feeds are interrupted, each item you fire one up you get a pop up that you cannot disable and you can't set any as the default browser.

2. The Bluetooth experience is an absolute nightmare – you can't tooth anything to the phone unless you open up a specific application and then make a tooth request from the phone – something which only works on a tiny selection of file formats anyway.

3. You are not permitted to use your choice of application, I managed to install google maps but can't perform map searches, communication is broken. That wouldn't be so galling if the phone's own map search wasn't so rubbishy.

4. I have been told by tech help (another 25p, thanks) that there is a 15 MB monthly limit on email. If that's actually true then it should have been made clear pre-sale and it pretty much makes a joke out of the Bilberry brand because that's what it's known for. I would add that the same tech help person also said that some net access would be chargeable but since I have not been seen any new charges once everything was enabled it seems that this tech help was wrong on both counts.

5. There is no access to the Bilberry's own App World. The App World application says that access is restricted by the operator and that I must 'upgrade to a service plan that includes browsing'. Eh, what was I doing? That's like O2 stopping access to Apple's iShop. I have absolutely no idea how access to a manufacturer's own app site could harm the operator.

I find the keys slippy and a little tough to work single-handedly with the thumb. The phone itself provides no grip to make thumb use easy - personal taste. Surfing and IM can exhaust the battery in a matter of hours. It's not the phone for an hourly commute.

The phone a real bind to get going and then disappointing in that you discover that what you have is half of what could have been and you can't do a lot of really normal stuff any more.

It is well, if perhaps slightly deceptively, priced, works and I don't have to worry about cost whilst waiting for web pages to load. If you're happy with consumer-baiting operator restrictions or don't like contracts then it is a good buy given that push mail costs about £5 per month. Since I also wonder what's going to happen after the 12 month deal expires and how much I will then be charged I'm using it as a very handy but disposable mail reminder tool – it's not replaced anything.

comments powered by Disqus