Among the few things that distinguish this phone from its predecessor is its camera that has been bumped from 3.2-megapixels to 5-megapixels. The real world difference is subtle at best with shots still generally soft and lacking in detail compared to a proper camera. Nonetheless, with autofocus and an LED onboard you can generally get a nice enough shot to capture the moment. The same applies for the non-HD (640 x 480) video, though the limit of only 24fps does make movement a little jerky.
Above the keyboard sits the screen, which measures a relatively paltry 2.44in from corner to corner. This pales in comparison to the 3.5-4.0in examples found on most touchscreen smartphones nowadays, and it is noticeable. Browse the web or watch a video and it feels decidedly cramped, though in fairness it’s still sufficient to get by.
Helping is the sheer quality of the screen. Packing in 480 x 360 pixels, it’s superbly sharp and produces strong, punchy colours and deep blacks.
What’s perhaps more of concern than the size of the screen is the lack of touch-sensing. Particularly with its redesigned interface it just feels so backward to have to scroll round using a trackpad to select menus items when a simple prod with a finger would get you there in double quick time. It’s not that we want the format to change completely, just replace the current screen with a touch-sensing one and we’ll be happy. Of course that’s precisely what we can expect from the BlackBerry Dakota when it finally arrives.
What makes this even worse is that the optical trackpad on the sample we reviewed was a bit temperamental, being unresponsive one minute and flinging the cursor wildly across the screen the next. Since shooting our video review we’ve heard evidence to suggest this is probably a defect with the unit we have for review but we’ve yet to see another unit ourselves to confirm this. Based on passed evidence, though, we wouldn’t expect this to be a widespread problem.
Joining the trackpad in the central navigation cluster are buttons for Call, Menu, Back, and Call End. They all feel responsive and are nice and large for super-easy navigation.
Running on this phone is the latest 6.0 version of Blackberry’s OS that brings a number of significant improvements to the table, though still retains that very Blackberry-esque feel. Putting aside our already noted desire for a touchscreen and issues with the trackpad, the OS does feel very nice.