Monday, January 15, 2007

Shira's Blackberry Pearl Review

Okay, there were several requests for my thoughts on the Pearl. I felt I should use the phone for more than a day before sharing, but now I am ready. Bottom line, I am very much enjoying this new toy, and it is miles ahead of my old Samsung T809, which I paid an outrageous amount of money for. That said, it is not perfect, as I'll explain below. First the good:
  • I love how I am running a Gmail client, Google Talk and AOL IM all at the same time, on this handy little device that is always with me
  • While the Gmail client doesn't auto-refresh (come on Google, you can do better than that), I do get my Gmail email via regular Blackberry messaging, so I can hear the alert, and then if I wish to respond using the Gmail interface, can do that
  • Blackberry does do messaging well. From one menu, I can choose to start an email, an SMS, an MMS or an instant message
  • The trackball is super. I have an older Blackberry with the scroll bar on the side, but the multi-directional ability of the trackball is really nice
  • I find the keyboard very easy to "two-thumb" on. Also, with its own symbol key to bring up various symbols, I am freed from the world of pressing the "1" key or the "*" key or whatever key it was and scrolling through dozens of symbols until I found the one I needed. Also, the space key is context sensitive, so if you are typing an email address, the first time you push it it will give you an @ sign, but the next time it will give you a period.
  • No complaints on camera quality
  • It was extremely easy to export my contacts from my old phone to Outlook and then import from Outlook to the Blackberry
  • The USB connection for transferring files from the computer to my SD card also worked as easily as it should have
  • Voice dialing works great
  • Bluetooth connected without a problem to both of our cars (Acura TL and TSX)
  • Browsing over EDGE for the most part can be done at reasonable speeds
  • The screen is very bright and very clear
  • It is very slim and lightweight, while still packing in a lot of bang
Second, the gripes:
  • I am currently tracking what I believe, after doing some research, to be a memory leak. That is, when the device runs low on memory, it starts erasing your call log (that was my first clue) and then possibly some other things like text messages. Pulling out the battery and doing a hard reboot does restore the memory, and while doing this every few days doesn't sound fun, it is a relatively cheap, easy fix, that doesn't interfere too much.
  • The calendar and phonebook are traditional blackberry "crude text." They are functional, but don't expect aesthetics (but do you care if your phonebook is pretty?)
  • I was able to go two days on the battery with medium data usage and minimal phone usage. Under status, you can view the battery as a percentage, which for a person like me is dangerous: the battery went from 95% to 90%! It's probably just better to watch the bars on the home screen, but gosh I love precision!
  • Not all of the functionality/menus are intuitive (which is just painful during initial setup)
    • For example, to edit tones on a profile, if you just go to profiles and click on a profile, it will just set the profile on the phone. The first 5 times you do this without scrolling all the way down the screen to see the "Advanced" option, you get very frustrated about the simple process of how to change a ringtone
    • Also, when editing a person in your address book who you have not yet assigned a custom ringtone for, who would have thought that you should click on the icon to add a picture for them to also add a custom ringtone?
So, all in all, I think my only big concern is the memory leak, which, as mentioned, isn't a show-stopper. Ben still doesn't quite have the typing down and he is certainly not ready to rid himself of the Sidekick. But, different phones are made for different people, and I will certainly be keeping mine and being thankful that I don't have a Sidekick.


  1. Actually, it was totally me (Shira). After experiencing the call log disappearing act, I poked around on the web, and found that as a problem.

    Ben has been filling my head with something about garbage collection and how having free memory just for the sake of free memory is a waste.

    Update to the memory leak issue: We deleted all extraneous languages (I hope I don't need to read Portuguese on my phone anytime soon) and I have been monitoring the memory. It was down to 1.5 MB free yesterday, but then came back up to 3. Thus, Ben feels that it is doing some sort of garbage collection. I don't know why the trash wasn't picked up the first time when I lost my call log, but I am still keeping an eye out, and my free memory has not again reached zero.

  2. Mark -

    I swear I didn't tell her to type any of that. I guess she's been paying attention to me when I blab on and on about memory allocation.

    As we know, nothing fixes a problem like System.gc().

  3. Is this Pearl on Cingular or T-mobile? How did you get AOL Aim? Did it come with it? I have Cingular version with no AIM.

  4. Jerry,
    It's the T-mobile version, and it actually comes with AIM, Yahoo, MSN and ICQ. I know you can download Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk from Blackberry's site, but didn't see AIM after a quick look.

  5. Anonymous3:00 AM

    i gave the t mobile, blackberry pearl and i cant find AIM any where !!! what menu do i go into to get it, or do i have to download it from the internet, if so how ? please help !

  6. With the T-mobile Pearl I have, under the main menu, you just go to "Instant Messaging" and it gives you the choice of AOL and 3 others. It was pre-installed, no download necessary.

  7. Anonymous5:54 PM

    How did you delete the extraneous languages on your Pearl? Did you have to do it from the Desktop Application?

  8. No, you do not need to do it from the Desktop Manager.

    Go to:
    Advanced Options
    See the languages and delete away

    Hope this helps!


  9. Anonymous1:35 AM

    That worked beautifully thank you! Great review by the way...

  10. Anonymous12:33 AM

    Just get a Centro... no memory problems, they look better, have a touch screen and a full keyboard... who wants a device you have to reset all the time or lose your data?