The keyboard also has keys that are sculpted in opposite directions so as to ‘catch’ your thumbs as you type and give you a good purchase. This really helps get you up to speed when typing, though we still find that it’s not enough to allow for true touch typing (one still has to look at the keyboard). Nonetheless, this is among the best keyboards we’ve used.
Arguably even better is the screen. Though it’s a tad small compared to full touchscreen models and is 0.1in smaller than its predecessor, at 2.4in it is still just about large enough to make viewing videos manageable and is ample for smartphone duties, thanks to its impressive resolution. RIM has managed to fit in an impressive 480 x 360 pixels – more than many premium touchscreen phones like the iPhone – making for a super sharp and detailed display, though you’ll need good eyesight to fully appreciate it as the dot pitch is incredibly fine.
It’s not just detail that’s on offer either, colours are incredibly full and natural, and black levels are class-leading. These two combined are what really bring videos and pictures to life and actually make this an equal to much larger devices in this regard. The only downside are the viewing angles. From below, it is absolutely fine but from the sides or above, visibility drops off markedly. In general use this is no problem, but if you’re showing a group of people your latest pictorial masterpiece, they may all struggle to see what’s going on.
Actually, there is one other potential downside. Seemingly a result of the phone’s reduction in width, the screen now comes very close to the edge of the chassis, so if you squeeze the phone it can temporarily distort the display, just like if you poke an LCD monitor. This isn’t a concern in and of itself but were the phone to drop on its edge, it could be particularly susceptible to getting a damaged screen.
Incorporated into the top edge are lock and (call) mute buttons while down the right edge are volume controls and the camera button. The camera is mounted on the back and can shoot at up to 3.2-megapixels. It has autofocus and a reasonably powerful LED flash, takes photos reasonably quickly and results in pretty decent pictures with impressive colour reproduction. Video can also be shot at up to 480 x 360 pixels and the framerate is enough to make perfectly usable clips. A contender for phone camera of the year it certainly isn’t but it definitely holds its own against it peers.