RIM BlackBerry Pearl 3G phone
Redesigned keypad that's strikingly familiar
Review What's this, a BlackBerry without a keyboard? In phone circles it's akin to a Factor without its X. The Pearl 3G 9105 is BlackBerry's first handset to sport a standard numeric keypad, rather than a Qwerty keyboard or its own SureType alphanumeric blend, which assigns two letters to each key. It's likely that this is something of an experiment, since the same phone is available with the SureType option in the US as the 9100. Can its other improvements make up for the loss of one of Blackberry's major assets?
Retrograde in motion? RIM's BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105
At first glance, the 9105 is very much a Pearl. It's kept the same sort of wavy keyboard pattern that we saw on its previous incarnation and it's just as petite at 108 x 50 x 13mm and 93g – pretty much the same size as the 2G version, and just a couple of grammes heavier.
Like its recent BlackBerry brethren, this latest Pearl comes with an optical trackpad, rather than the old-style trackball and it's all the better for it. The trackpad is responds nicely under the thumb and you can adjust the sensitivity to suit.
The sides have the now-familiar black plastic strip, which hides volume buttons, camera shutter release and voice dial button. The latter two are actually smart keys that can be set as short cuts to a range of function and features.
There's also a micro USB charge/sync slot and a 3.5mm jack. The top has a touch-sensitive strip with media player controls (play/pause, FFWD, REV and mute). Build quality feels solid enough and the neatly tapered top and bottom helps it slip easily into the pocket.
As with other BlackBerrys, side buttons can be assigned to different functions
The keyboard is, of course, the big difference, but really, it's only different because this is a BlackBerry. It's a standard numeric keypad with 14 keys and there's nothing wrong with that, but it does feel like a bit of a backward step. I've never had a problem with SureType handsets, certainly it’s a different method, but takes barely any time to get your head around, and it offers more ease of use than T9-style text prediction.
In addition to the reason you mentioned, when you're sitting with your phone/MP3 player on a desk, it's also preferable to have the headphone socket on the bottom.
It's something that Apple have got consistently right with their iPod Touch line, and consistently wrong with everything else in their non-Mac lineup.
It's not a religion..
Most people are used to the socket on top, when a call comes through it is natural to grip the top of the phone twixt thumb and finger allowing the body to come to rest in the palm of your hand. It's not a problem, most people work quite happily that way. Except those who use the latest Apple product of course, then the signal drops because 'you are holding it wrong'.
"The music player benefits from having the transport controls on the top,"
I've been meaning to mention this for a while but, despite CONSTANTLY telling us the headphone socket etc should ALWAYS be at the top and that anyone who designs a phone otherwise should be cast into the fiery depths of Vesuvius you are just wrong. It is very simple. You should always put your phone in your pocket upside down.
Don't believe me? Stand up. Put your phone in your pocket upside down. Take it out and hold it up to your face as if looking to see who is calling. Voilla! The phone is the correct way up. If you now try it the other way around, you will either need to spin the phone (and risk dropping it) or contort your wrist in order to read the display.
It isn't magic. It isn't rocket science. So stop telling the world that phones with ports on the bottom are wrong. They aren't. YOU ARE! And now everyone is doing as you say YOU have broken the world. Shame on you Reg!