With the improved OS comes an upgraded music player. You can browse tracks by the usual artist, song title or album name categories and the Now Playing screen displays Album Art if it’s available. Music can be transferred to the phone using either BlackBerry’s own software, which isn’t all that hot, or alternatively you can just rely on either Windows Media Player’s sync feature or drag and drop via Windows Explorer. The sound quality is surprisingly good although it’s disappointing that there are no EQ features at all, not even a list of presets.
BlackBerry supplies the phone with a pair of decent stereo headphones complete with an in-line mic for handset-free calling. The phone also has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack so you can swap these for your own headphones if you want, but as the hands-free set isn’t a two-part design, you’ll loose the hands-free calling capability. Another option is to opt for a stereo Bluetooth headset as the phone supports A2DP so it can stream stereo sound to a compatible headset.
Call quality was consistently excellent during our test period and the phone does a great job of holding on to reception even in weaker signal areas. BlackBerry’s handsets have a reputation for excellent battery life and thankfully the 8220 doesn’t sully this good name. With medium to heavy usage for phone calls, emailing, web access via Wi-Fi and music listening via A2DP we got around three days out of it, which is very impressive.
Despite this there is one serious omission on the 8220 – its lack of 3G support. While it’s not all that much of an issue for emailing, it is a problem when you’re using the browser on the move. The browser is already quite slow when working over Wi-Fi, so as you can image waiting for pages to load over EDGE is a bit like watching paint dry.
On the whole, BlackBerry has done a fine job of squeezing its emailer concept into a flip design. The keyboard is good, the screen is impressive and battery life is top class. It’s only the sluggish browser and lack of 3G support that blot its copy book somewhat.
Score in detail