There is nothing noticeably different between this and other Pearl models. It is a thin, pocketable smartphone with a good-looking finish and miniature trackball.
The QWERTY keyboard system, with two characters sharing most keys, takes a little getting used to, but can be very fast once mastered.
With built-in GPS and 12 months of navigation software courtesy of Vodafone, this is a decent sat nav phone. But there’s no Wi-Fi.
Once you are used to the keyboard, mobile email is a breeze. The screen is a bit small for some tasks, such as web browsing, though.
The mid-range battery life should see you through a few days between charges if you are not too heavy on the GPS.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:51:20 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
A small and pocketable smartphone for those keen on email.
The SureType system takes a little getting used to, and the screen is a bit cramped for some tasks. No 3G.
The launch of Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Pearl range represented a real change in direction for the manufacturer, bringing a neat candybar design along with a clever text entry system called SureType. The third entry into the Pearl stable, the Vodafone-exclusive 8110, also comes with built-in GPS.
When we first came across SureType, we were unsure what to think; however, we’re now on our third such device and have mastered the art, tapping out emails and texts as quick as a flash. The great benefit of this key-sharing system is that the Pearl 8110 is small, which makes it a convenient smartphone to carry around.
The down side is that the 8110’s screen is fairly cramped. If you browse the web regularly then this won’t be the device for you; the small screen just isn’t up to that kind of task. In fact, with no 3G and just tri-band GSM and GPRS, web browsing isn’t as fast as we’d hoped. There’s no Wi-Fi either, so you can’t hop onto a local network when you want ultra-fast browsing.
Vodafone has teamed up with sat nav provider Telmap to provide one year’s free service with the Pearl 8110. Telmap is an ‘off-board’ system, so the phone requests information from it over the air as needed. This has its advantages as data is always up to date, but try to plan a trip from a location where you don’t have a phone signal and you will find yourself out in the cold.
RIM has tried hard to make the Pearl 8120 consumer friendly. Although the music player is less sophisticated than dedicated music devices and even other smartphones, it does play MP3s, and it comes with a 3.5mm headset jack so you can use your own headphones. There’s also a microSD card slot for expanding the memory.
The two-megapixel camera can even cope with video. Again, it lacks the sophistication found on other smartphones, but it does the job well enough for simple photography.
RIM has made some pretty big steps in taking the consumer market head-on with the 8110, and for many it will be enough. As well as a consumer-friendly device, it’s a competent email phone.
But the manufacturer is going to have to go a lot further if it wants to challenge the likes of Nokia at the higher end. Wi-Fi, 3G, and a camera with auto-focus all need to be considered for the next-generation Pearl to make it with the big boys.