Of course, the main reason people opt for a BlackBerry phone is because of their email prowess. Thankfully, in this regard the 8220 doesn't let the side down. We used the phone with our personal email account and getting everything up and running was a doddle. You just enter the email address and password using the configuration tool on the BlackBerry site and then wait around 20 minutes for the service to activate itself.
One advantage of the new software is that HTML mail is now fully supported. In fact, the 8220 rather neatly reformats incoming HTML mails so they fit the width of the screen eliminating the need for any horizontal scrolling. BlackBerry has also added support for instant messaging services including Gtalk, AOL, MSN, Yahoo and ICQ, so keeping in touch certainly isn't going to be a problem.
But while the messaging features are excellent, the phone's browser is a bit of a disappointment as it seems to be rather buggy. Loading pages even over Wi-Fi can sometimes take an age as the phone struggles to decide what to do with the incoming data. Also, there were times when having the browser open in the background slowed the rest of the phone's functions to a crawl. It's a shame, as when the browser does work properly it does a good job of rendering pages on the screen, although in terms of usability it's a long way from the iPhone's Safari. Nevertheless, we hope BlackBerry can sort out these problems in a future software release.
Naturally, as this model is aimed at consumers BlackBerry has kitted it out with a camera, albeit a fairly basic one. It captures 2-megapixel snaps and has an LED flash for shedding a bit of light on proceedings when you're taking picture in low light. Apart from the LED flash the only other features on offer are 5x digital zoom and the ability to set white balance. The shots are the usual passable cameraphone affairs. Pictures taken outside in good sunlight don't look too bad, but in darker conditions even with the flash turned on the results are marred by lots of digital noise.