BlackBerry Pearl: First impressions

by Volker Weber

We are no longer in Blackberryland. This thing looks and feels like a regular mobile phone. Light and thin as a RAZR, you can easily put it away in a shirt pocket. And it loves finger prints. Shiny, shiny.

The trackball is OK, but I am still a trackwheel user. It will take a while to get used to. If the light sensor thinks that it is dark enough, the trackball will light up. Hence the pearl. I find the new menu and escape buttons really handy. The software has been improved in many respects, for instance the two-line message list which works better than the single line list on the 7130. Menus don't show all options but you can select Full Menu to see them all.

I have had my usual difficulties to get the device connected to my account. The first unit had already been registered and I could not book it into my BIS account. The second one was free, but O2 did not recognize it as a device it liked. I sent mail to the mothership, and RIM wizards made it work.

One obstacle is holding me up: PocketMac does not recognize the Pearl ("BlackBerry Pearl Support Coming Soon"). And one thing strikes me as odd: The Pearl has a camera, but you cannot send your photos by mail. Isn't that strange?


I wonder if the "photos by mail" is something that your provider has just not activated in the service book for the pearl. It sucks with Cingular not activating mms on my 8700c... Good review. I'm looking to get one when it's released for Cingular.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-09-21

I've seen a report about a problem where a slight movement of the trackball silences the ringer, even if the keyboard is locked? This way, if you have the phone in your pocket, you will probably miss many calls since they are silenced right away. Do you experience that problem as well?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-09-21

Don't you want to bring it over ?
I have got an extended weekend ;)

Does your "Pearl" has this problem?

Sebastian Grötsch, 2006-09-21

I have had the pearl for over a week .... love it ... MMS messages with pictures i took on the camera are working great. I also have not had much of the trackball stopping the phone ringer .. and i keep it in my pocket all the time.

I think people are just being oversensitive personally

John Head, 2006-09-21

Ok, but how is it as a PHONE? Previous crackberries have, by many reports, completely sucked as phones. Also, how is durability?

For me, because I'm in the U.S., reception is critical. Voice quality is also important.

Of all things, I insist my phone be good at....well, being a phone.

Andrew Pollack, 2006-09-21

Send Photos via Email works great here. ;-)

cheers marco

marco foellmer, 2006-09-21

Andrew, somebody will have to test this for you in the US. You are using different frequencies from the rest of the world, and your networks are very sparse. Reception is never an issue here. What durability and and voice quality is concerned, the Ericsson R250 Pro would have been the best phone for you. However, it does not work on your frequencies.

I have not experienced the "phone never rings" problem so far, but I will look into it.

Marco: What do you think? Why is there no "Send photo by mail" feature on my Pearl but on yours?

Volker Weber, 2006-09-22

@Volker -- re: networks are sparse -- true, but it is related to population density and vast size. Maine, where I live has about 1/4 the land area of Germany, and about 1.5% the population.

It isn't that the networks are bad due to poor planning or neglect, it takes a lot more per capita to support enough towers to cover the area.

Yes, you're right though -- coverage stinks.

Andrew Pollack, 2006-09-22

** I forgot to add, Volker, that regardless of the reason, some phones simply work better than others.

My Motorola e815 works very well, gets excellent reception, and has excellent clarity when talking. My old LG VX6100 stunk in all three regards.

I have not heard good things about Blackberry on these areas.

Andrew Pollack, 2006-09-22

Marco, I assume you are using the 8100 on BES 4.1.x. Correct?

Volker, making a quick search on, it looks like the emailing photo option is only enabled for BIS users with a 8100 if the BIS account is on version 2.x. If it is on BIS 1.8 it does not work. Does anyone know when the carriers here in Germany will start to upgrade to BIS 2.x?

Abdelkader Boui, 2006-09-23

Das ist eine interessante Frage. Schauen wir mal, wer diese Server betreibt. Die Carrier haben sich ja phantasievolle Namen ausgedacht:

Diese Adressen gehören RIM:

Last login: Sat Sep 23 00:26:09 on ttyp1
Welcome to Darwin!
Raven:~ vowe$ whois

OrgName: Research In Motion Inc.
OrgID: RIM-9
Address: 295 Phillip Street
City: Waterloo
StateProv: ON
PostalCode: N2L-3W8
Country: CA

NetRange: -
NetName: RIM-NET-02

Und jetzt wird es interessant. Öffnet man den unteren Frame, dann zeigt der für drei Carrier auf den selben Server:

Aber einer nennt sich nicht mehr nach dem alten Namen "Webclient", sondern "BIS":

Und E-Plus hat offensichtlich schon BIS 2.x.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-23

The Pearl is a great phone ... so much better than the 7100 ... I have not had a dropped call in two weeks, the bluetooth connection rocks, and I get reception in buildings in chicago on the 61st floor that I never got with the 7100.

John Head, 2006-09-24

I certainly can't send or receive ANY pictures on my Pearl, it doesn't even have a "send" option! And they say i have unlimited photo messaging! what a joke! Please explain this to me!

Katie Austin, 2007-09-14

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