Pearl not rolling

by Volker Weber

The Pearl

Axel mentioned it first, now I am reading reports and I also have incoming Google links from folks searching for "blackberry pearl ball not working". The trackball may be the Achilles' heel of this device. My own trackball got stuck twice within the seven weeks I had the Pearl. It would roll up, left and right, but not down. With a lot of rolling, it would eventually become unstuck, but I could still feel that there was some dirt on the roller inside. The problem went away completely all by itself, but I am worried. There does not seem to be a way to remove the ball and clean it.

If this turns out to be a serious problem, RIM will be in a lot of trouble from folks who turn in their phones for repair.


Maybe they could ask Sony for support from their logistics (exchange of x million batteries).

Wolfgang Andreas Bischof, 2006-11-07

imho it's a big bug right now, we are waiting for the fully qwerty device. I love the 8700 device, it works!

here are the issues:

1. Sametime 7.5 Mobile client is not working with BlackBerry Pearl 8100

2. IMHO Suretype is not acceptable for me, because I have really much to write

3. I do not like the shortdial keys (numbers)

4. BlackBerry Applications are not working so smooth in the way it works with the 8700
5. display is too small ( yes for me ;-) )

I agree it looks really good, but I wait until next year to get the qwerty device.

marco foellmer, 2006-11-07

One would think that the general experience with many mice (those ancient ones with a ball) would have spread into RIM's design team as well. Has anyone had one of those mice and did NOT need to clean it everynow and then?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-11-07

Well, the youngsters in the design team probably never have seen a mouse with a ball? ;-) And even if, they never used one....

Waiting for the "full QWERTY device" won't do the trick. Because it will also have a pearl trackball.

Besides, I've seen a lot BBs with broken trackweels too. But from my own experience I can say the trackweels are very reliable against dust and lint :-)

Volker, please keep your experiences with the "pearl" posted. That's really an important point. Do you use a kind of sleeve or pocket for protection? It's interesting that RIM starts selling the handhelds before the accessories are available.

Max Nierbauer, 2006-11-07

Marco, a few of your comments touch on the general decision whether one wants a wide or a small keyboard. This has been going on ever since the 7100 series was introduced. I agree with you that a full keyboard is better.

However, all of the coming Blackberrys that we know of will have the trackball.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-07

I have an Apple Mighty Mouse with the same issue. The ball on top doesn't really scroll any more and there is no user serviceable way to fix it..... without a hammer ;-)

Brendon Upson, 2006-11-07

Volker, You are right I see the same wave coming...

marco foellmer, 2006-11-07

I found a friend which is able to fix the wheel, please let me know, if we can help. :-)

Cheers marco

marco foellmer, 2006-11-07

Need to know how to clean trackball without breaking it..... Please help :)

Miguel Molina, 2006-12-24

So I've had the Blackberry Pearl for about 5 weeks now and, suddenly, about 3 days ago the trackball stopped working in the camera mode, but works perfectly fine otherwise. In other words, I can no longer zoom in or out. I tried every option conceivable to see if this was just a setting that I had inadvertently set but to no seems to be the trackball. But why would it work in every other instance, just not with the camera? Anyone have this experience? Anyone have any advice?

Johnny Fong-Fong, 2007-01-04

My trackball also stopped working completely...IN CAMERA MODE ONLY!! noted by someone else.

Of course, this is 32 days past when I can return it to the retail location....

Tony Moss, 2007-01-15

Have you tried pulling the battery?

Volker Weber, 2007-01-15

My mate had exactly the same problem with his trackball not working in the down direction. He's lived with it for several weeks but we've just managed to fix it.

We picked and picked at the silver bezel around it and it came off. you need to kind of pull all around it at different edges and eaze it off. Behind that was a metal clip which holds the ball mechanism in. we removed that and the ball mechanism can be knocked out. there are 4 rollers, (one for each direction i assume). They were all completely filthy. I cleaned them up a little with my nail as we had no alcohol cleaner. put it all back and it works fine.


Andy Evans, 2007-02-12

Just had the same 'won't go down' problem. Easy! Solved it by taking the bezel off with a tiny scalpel as above and cleaned the ball mechanism by a blast of breath - worked a treat.

Paul Morphet, 2007-02-21

I have had this Blackberry since last October and have reached this thread as result from a Google search as well. The trackball has been sticking whenever I try to scroll 'down'. In any case this is very inconveniant for me, as I rely on this device to do most of my daily planning, email, and text messaging.

Additionally, I have been experiencing problems with the device not ever ringing or producing any type of sound whatsoever... whenever it wants to. The only way to fix this, is to do a hard reset where you remove the battery and SIM Card.

If I can somehow fix this ball I will be eternally grateful for the advice here. However, I will never purchase a device like this again, nor from this manufacturer. Perhaps they should spend more time testing such devices and go the extra mile, rather than to have to deal with the returns.

Dave Cubit, 2007-03-03

I googled "blackberry pearl camera zoom not working" and received the sage advice to remove the battery while the phone is on. LIke everyone else, the trackball worked fine except for the camera zoom, so wasn't mechanical.

It WORKS! Just a 10 sec fix - not sure how often this will come up again, so it is annoying (for all you RIM people lurking).

Seems a software bug?

lisa parchomy, 2007-03-12

Had similar problems with the trackbal not working. Took the ball out as specified above, cleaned rollers with airgun.
Works like a charm, wonder if it had to do with carrying the unit in my pocket instead of the holster.

stephane adrin, 2007-03-27

Like others on this board I had the same problem (trackball not working in camera mode), and the pulling of the battery worked like a charm. Hopefully this will get fixed in a software update.

Ian Younge, 2007-03-30

Same problem with the trackball able to go in EVERY direction except down. Very frustrating! I tried pulling off the silver circle item and cleaned the rollers and works like a charm.

I was just about frustrated enough to get a new phone!

Michael Scott, 2007-04-20

I fixed mine (wouldn't go down) using this method. Just be carefull putting your silver circle back in. mine got slightly cracked when I put it back in. Still works fine, but i'm hesitant to do this again.

owen hay, 2007-04-26


I had been having the same problems, I simply cleaned the ball with a toothbrush - I didn't take it apart, just brushed downwards with a softish toothbrush on the ball for 30 seconds. Now it works - BTW going down was the problem on my blackberry.

Ben Hobbs, 2007-05-13

My device would not scroll up. I used the instructions that Andy gave above and found the small black roller. I scraped at it with a fingernail and rubbed it off with an alcohol wipe and the ball works like a charm now. Thanks to Andy!

Dan Ahern, 2007-05-22

My right scroll died, everything else was fine.
Andy's instructions worked a treat for carefully removing the bezel, the clip and the ball assembly. I used a stanley knife blade to do the careful prising. It's worth looking carefully at the three items (shiny bezel, metal clip, ball and roller assembly) as you remove them so you get them back in the correct orientation (for the bezel and clip at least, the ball and roller assembly can pop back in any orientation).

The rollers are tiny and offset to the corners of the square pearl assembly, not just in north south east west positions like you might expect if you've ever looked inside an old pre-optical mouse. Though my rollers didn't appear unduly dirty, (though in fairness I had difficulty in inspecting them properly, they're so small) the roller in the top right of the assembly used for scrolling right was "stuck" and wouldn't rotate. Once I gave it a firm push to get it rotating, it freed up and worked fine and after a bit of careful reassembly its all fine and dandy again.

In fact I had the phone on all the time and was popping the roller assembly in and out to test if I was getting it working. It was a lot quicker to solve that way rather than a shut down, a disassembly, a full reassembly and power up every time. It's probably not the safest approach but it worked no bother.

Des O'Mahony, 2007-05-25

Duuuuuuuuuuude!! I was so frustrated after taking out the three pieces and trying to figure out why it wasn't working, I was about ready to call t-mobile and ask for a replacement when I saw this on google, worked like a charm!! Thank you sooooo much!!I really needed it for tomorrow, too, so it's perfect!!

rob mackay, 2007-05-28

Had the sticky ball problem, wouldn't track up. Pulled the cowling as recommended here, and the whole assembly came out. Had balls of lint around the spindles, but I carry my Pearl in my pocket. Probably not a good idea. Cleaning went fine, ended with 9 pieces once the spindles fell out, reassembly was very tricky. Works now.

rod fisher, 2007-06-04

My zoom also stopped working on my camera. i'm so glad i found this thread. Pulling the battery out worked!

Phil Barnett, 2007-07-02

Thank you, Andy!!! for your post on 2007-02-12 13:24.
I did the same and it worked perfectly!
Thank you, thank you!

Jack Feel, 2007-07-05

I clean the rollers as you said and I was still having problems scrolling to the left. What I found is that there was also some dirt inside the walls. So I used an air-duster but that didn't work. Then, I put a lot of alcohol and scrolled the ball a lot so that the alcohol could collect the dirt and create a small mass of dirt. That worked and I was able to pull the dirt out through the bottom of the ball assembly. Now it's working like new.

Francisco Garibay, 2007-07-11

I had the same zoom problem (but no other problems with the trackball), and presto - the battery trick worked for me as well!

Allison Kapner, 2007-07-24

My blackberry goes down no problem, my girlfriend on the other hand...

Thanks for this thread, I too had the problem with the zoom only. I think it is worth noting again to those who may be scanning comments that removing the battery WHILE PHONE IS ON is what is required.

Thanks all!

neil glover, 2007-07-28

Thank you very much. I have experienced both the camera not zooming, and the sticky scroll in the downward direction. I had inadvertently fixed #1 due to an unrelated reset I performed on the device by pulling the battery, but I was never sure if that was really the fix, or it just went away on its own. But having the instruction for pulling the bezel for the trackball assembly was very much appreciated, as I was nervous to attempt it otherwise. I removed the bezel with a fingernail clipper file, removed the ball assembly, cleaned the rollers with alcohol. The looked fine with no visible dirt, so I assume some tiny piece of material I could not see or just skin oil was the culprit. Re-assembled in reverse order and the device works great. Thanks.

Gregg Wilson, 2007-08-06

Have a very very nice 8800 full qwerty version. Had to get unused to the wider and slightly different layout of the 73xx previous keyboard and cramp my thumbs to a sub-150 keystroke a minute - for three weeks. Loved the device (slick, small, bright screen) and ye gods - that scrollball! Wow, until, in less than four weeks - it stopped scrolling down unless combined with pressing down really hard.

The elegant solution Ben Hobbs posted, worked excellent for me and does not required any fiddling disassembly or assembly. Toothbrush!

Reminded me of the wireless mighty mouse, which also covers a tiny trackball (reminds me of other tiny knobs, with the middle finger place on it- but that's off topic). Had to clean that a couple of times with a solution published by Apple.

I love the trackball and the way RIM pushed the envelope on the 8800 device. Kudos for that. Next step is for them to deliver a stylish black brush in the package, reminiscent to what is packaged with electrical shavers. With that much ease of use, for me, they can get away with it.

Michael Maes, 2007-08-14

The ZOOM on the camera was not working on my pearl when scrolling with the trackball. Removed battery while still on and left it out for 10 seconds. Placed the battery back in and it's working like a charm.

Mike Santang, 2007-08-15

There's an article over on blackberryinsight with better instructions.

Tom Hundt, 2007-08-25

I've got a couple of Blackberry Pearls that I take care of at work, and I have to say they are quite annoying pieces of technology.

One may notice that computer mice manufacturers moved away from using roller balls. Why is that? Because they get grime layered up in the rollers and they quit functioning. As a result, the industry has almost completely moved towards laser mice, a solid state solution that rarely needs cleaning (the laser emitter is recessed in the bottom of the mouse.

Now Blackberry comes along and figures, gee whiz, why don't we make the primary navigation element use a roller ball to function?

Guess what Blackberry, human hands are oily, shed skin, and are almost never sterile. The rollers probably get more slime on them than a mouse roller if you adjust for surface area. This is clear when you take apart the Pearl as suggested in this thread, a solution which works wonderfully by the way, and see the grime and dirt that collects in the phone. It actually smell bad in there.

Nice work, Blackberry.

(Not a big iPod fan or anything, but at least the usual iPod has a nav tool that is solid state and thus immune to simple mechanical problems like this.)

Jamie Laing, 2007-10-08

Great advice on fixing your camera zoom problem. I took the advice and removed the battery while the camera was on. It worked. My camera zoom problem was fixed.

david Michaels, 2007-10-10

Thanks for the thread! I could hear something grinding in mine. Turned out to be a grain of sand or something.

Here are some tips I have after doing this:

1. The bezel has three prongs; one on each side and one at the bottom. The top doesn't seem to have a prong. I pried mine out by just sliding my fingernail around the bezel and gently prying up.

2. The metal retaining ring under the bezel has two prongs, one on top and one at the bottom. I used a sharp knife tip to gently lift it up from the bottom. It is very thin and therefore fragile, so be careful how you handle it.

3. The trackball assembly pops out as a single unit. You can easily clean the rollers and verify they move appropriately. There appear to be no electrical parts on the assembly, so dousing it in alcohol shouldn't be a problem, but there IS a contact on the bottom (for the "select" function) so make sure it is dry before reinstalling it.

Assembly inverse order from above.

I did note an interesting thing that there is no mechanical connection between the rollers and the circuit board. There appear to be four very tiny hall effect sensors (magnetic field sensors) located under each roller, so the rollers may be radially magnetic. I didn't test this. If they are, this would suggest they are prone to picking up metallic dust bits.....


Ken Howell, 2007-11-05

Ken's instructions got me started, but I found I had to take things apart even further.

After taking out the assembly, I had to remove the bottom plastic piece (it requires carefully unclipping the metal bracket. Be careful: the rollers may fall out, and if they do, you need to make sure to get them back in the same direction they were removed - otherwise up becomes right, down becomes left, etc.

I found that a big piece of lint had built up around the top roller inside the assembly (ok, big is a bit relative in this case, but still).

After removing the lint, I was able to put the bottom plastic piece back on and reassemble the rest of the phone. Just be careful about putting it back in. Once you've pulled off the bottom of the assembly, the metal brackets tend to stick out a bit more, making it harder to get the assembly back in it's slot.

Patrick Schneider, 2007-11-06

Help - I had a sticky roller - I took it off as suggested to fix it - and yes tehr oller scame out as well - now trying to work out how to put it back together and repair shops won't touch it - any clues pleeeeeeeaaaaaassseee!



Terry Smith, 2007-12-05

Hi - I had the same thing, roller would not move upwards. Rather than take it apart (very fiddly if you ask me...!), I used a dab of alcohol hand cleanser (thick, viscous formulation) and simply rubbed it into the ball, then wiped off the excess with a tissue. Worked! Not sure for how long, but at least I didn't have to take it apart. Next time (alas, there surely will be!) I'll try the alcohol with a toothbrush or even an electric razor brush, as mentioned previously.



Pete Lassoff, 2007-12-09

Zoom stopped working. I pulled out the battery, counted 10 seconds and re-installed it... and VOILA!!!! it is working back...

Thank you very much!!!!... I was sure my zoom was not going to work again...!

From Monterrey, Mexico... Thanks again!!!

Dr. Rafael Aguirre, 2007-12-13

There is no doubt. It brought me back to simpler days when cleaning mice was a skill. This took me quite a bit longer, but then again so were my arms when I was trying to do it. Thanks.

Joe Synder, 2008-01-05

I experienced the same problem with the pearl as a lot of you guys. I was a bit dissapointed when the device didn't work properly, and I decided to do something, I tryed to clean it with small brushes and different tools but finally I put some Appliance Oil on that is used for electric razors, and it worked after I scrolled it a few times and dried it with some peace of peaper.

Greg Hari, 2008-01-14

THANK YOU! I am so glad I found this website and thread. My camera zoom stopped working two months after I bought it (and at an inopportune time, too - I was trying to snap Andre Dawson's photo). My phone otherwise worked fine; it was just the zoom that didn't work. I was dreading taking it in, when I saw this thread. I first tried the roller ball removal method, but the zoom still didn't respond. Then I tried the battery trick, and voila, there was my zoom again. Thank you!

Suzanne Lee, 2008-01-21

Same story here, the zoom in the camera function not working. Tried the pull the battery out while the phone is on trick, but still no luck. IS friend played around with it and figured out that while in camera mode, if you push either the up or down volume keys it adjusts the zoom. This in turn makes the roller ball zoom function start to work again too.

Must be a software bug. Hope it helps!

Catherine Rolof, 2008-01-22

GREAT-- start simple though -- the toothbrush was all I needed! Stuck the bristles around the ball and wiggled for about 10 seconds. Works like a charm! THANKS!!

Lisa Snead, 2008-01-24

Wow, you just saved me $300 by not having to buy another phone. A huge lint ball kept the ball from scrolling right!

I really like the pearl and am just outside the 1 year warranty but within the 2 year contract before I get a discount on a trade in.

It really is tricky dealing with the little rollers, they are magnetic and keep wanting to pop out of their little slots. Also, couldn't re-insert the ball assembly with the metal clip on, seems that needs to be put back on after the assembly is back in the phone.


Dan Rigoli, 2008-02-22

After 1 month,my Blackberry's(8100) tracking ball stopped functioning only when on camera mode,so i took of the battery and sprayed the ball with gas duster and works perfect now.Don't take off the silver rim just use air or gas duster....

Varouj Artinjian, 2008-02-28

Taking out the battery while the unit was turned on seemed to get the camera zoom function working for me again too.

Good tip.

Kevin Curtis, 2008-03-10

Same problem as many above - track ball quit going down... thanks Andy for your post - worked like a charm.

Greg Gerten, 2008-03-31

Great thread. Was wondering how to fix a zoom bug in camera mode. Pulling the battery out while the phone was still on worked liked a charm.

Jon Hill, 2008-04-09

I use the internet a lot and sometimes it doesn't load or will not request. The manufacturer will tell you to remove the battery. I find the power up time annoying so I have tried other things to fix it. If you go to the wireless radio signal icon and turn it off for 15 seconds then the net will work perfectly. Also be sure to check your cashe operations. Btw thanks for the help with the trackball.

Matt Benson, 2008-04-20

Thanks sooo much for this! This has been helpful. I rely heavily on my phone for business purposes and switching the phoneon and off has worked a charm for my trackball issues!

Kala Williams, 2008-07-01

THANKS! I had been having the same problems as everyone else with the lack of camera zoom; pulling the battery out while the power was on did the trick. Everything works fine now.

Jocelyn Bowie, 2008-07-05

Sticky trackball is so irritating. Recently my bb 8900 javelin got the same problem, it wont scroll down.

So i look around google and most of them suggest to disassemble and replace the trackball of javelin. I dont want to diassemble it as it's risky. Fortunately someone recommends me to

There're some tricks, but I try the straw tricks and i got my trackball working again disassembling at all.. Thank god..

Jimmy Koila, 2010-01-26

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