Apart from shrinking a good deal and adding various bits of new technology, though, the 9300 follows a design pattern that has hardly changed since the original was released and in general that’s no bad thing. Flip the clamshell open and you’re presented with a full width QWERTY keyboard, complete with two shift keys, a space bar and number keys running along the top. There’s space for a set of shortcut function keys above this and, ranged along the right hand edge of the screen, there’s a series of buttons for context-sensitive operations.
Now although you won’t be wanting to write the works of Shakespeare on this keyboard, it is good enough to beat T9 texting hands down when tackled with a pair of thumbs, and much less fiddly than smaller keyboards on other devices such as a BlackBerry. If you’re one of those people who just can’t stand not adding the correct punctuation to messages and for some reason can’t bring yourself to use textese, it’s a godsend. With a bit of practice you’ll be typing away at a fair rate of knots.
To the bottom right of the keyboard sits a tiny joystick, which is used to control the mouse cursor. If you’ve ever used one of the TrackPoints favoured by IBM ThinkPads you’ll be right at home here. Its clickability, however, turns selecting text on web pages from simple into a task of Krypton Factor proportions.
The 640 x 200 resolution screen above the keyboard is impressive. It’s not touch sensitive, so needs no overlay and, consequently, it’s very easy to read. Want to check your email while sat outside enjoying a pint in the sun? You won’t have any problems here. It’s not over reflective and is quite readable in bright conditions.
Of course all of this hardware is designed to make communication easier and to this end you get a tri-band phone with Bluetooth, a built-in speaker phone and conference calling capability plus a class 10 GPRS connection (with EDGE) to the Internet. The latter is slow, but workable as long as you stick to websites of simple design. On top of this pretty much every form of messaging connectivity you can think of is catered for from POP3 and IMAP4 through to BlackBerry Connect and, yes, it can still receive faxes.