Review: BlackBerry Pearl Flip | Page 2

Nobody will buy the Pearl Flip for the camera. As camera phones go, it performed less reliably than many we've seen—primarily in its inaccurate capturing of what's seen from the view finder. It offers black and white and sepia modes, though the sepia seemed not to really work with the flash.

The microSD card slot, with the type of door that snaps open and dangles by a rubber cord, is on the right edge under the volume controls. The door's tether feels sturdier than some, but still has the feel of something that might detach too readily.

But the Flip does offer easy access to settings that let you store photos and other media on the external card. From the Music Player or the Camera you can enter the Options menu and allocate where you want to store those types of files and-if you're really worried about clogging things up-set a cap.

The Flip adeptly connects to a Wi-Fi network, and will store information you give it and connect whenever it's in range of that network. That's handy because it means, for instance, that if you've got a Wi-Fi network at home or at work you can do all your BlackBerry data activity over that rather than over your cellular plan-potentially saving yourself some money and certainly speeding up transfers (especially if you're out of 3G range).

We tested the phone in the Greenfield, Massachusetts and Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio areas and found service on T-Mobile reliable and clear. Few calls were dropped and data service worked just about everywhere we went. In standby (phone closed), the battery lasted for days. Even with the clock on bedside mode we easily went 48 hours between charges. Talk time battery life wasn't tested.

The Pearl Flip should appeal to two categories of potential users. For existing Pearl owners the flip-close feature that automatically prevents unintended calls, the larger, clearer display and the bigger buttons will all justify an upgrade. Standard flip-phone users contemplating their first smartphone will like the Pearl's size and shape and will be delighted by its power.

The one feature that sets it apart from full-size BlackBerrys and some other smart phones is the lack of a full QWERTY keyboard (most keys represent two letters and use RIM's SureType technology). While that may be a deal-breaker for heavy-use typists, it shouldn't deter people accustomed to texting from standard phones.

And it's hard to argue with so much in such a small, sophisticated package.

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