Review: BlackBerry Pearl Flip

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip, RIM's first folding unit, is a worthy edition to its smartphone line-up. It should appeal to anyone who's considered purchasing a BlackBerry, but have held off due to the lack of a clamshell model.

We found the Pearl Flip to be smooth and sturdy when closed. When open, the smartphone offered up a display with terrific graphics and a keypad with all the same keys as a standard Pearl, but in bigger sizes. The larger size and the smoother face of the keys makes for comfortable typing.

Its trackball is the same as on earlier Pearls. And the overall size of the Pearl Flip when folded is nearly as long as a regular Pearl, with the same width. That means when open, it stretches to nearly double the length of an 8110 or similar Pearl. But they weigh about the same.

One design flaw is that the battery cover pops off so readily a three-year-old can open it, but on the upside, the SIM compartment design makes swapping out the chips a snap.

When the Pearl Flip is closed, it can display arriving email messages or incoming call phone numbers, a clock or other applications, which gives you a quick visual of what's happening. A convenient "bedside mode" for the clock means you can check it at night without flipping it open. Other features of the folded phone include music controls.

It's handy to listen to music on the phone, especially when it's folded. Volume control on the right-hand side gives you convenient access whether the phone is open or closed; press and hold the volume-down button to return to the start of a track. The mute button on the left side also works whether the Pearl is open or closed. If you mute during playback, the sound is conveniently paused, not just muted, so you can resume when you're ready by pressing mute again.

The headset jack and USB port are below the mute button on the left side.

Like other new BlackBerrys, such as the Bold from AT&T, the Pearl Flip defaults to having MyFaves as the home screen. It's an interface that let's you set-up profiles for quick dialing and messaging. You can set an image to go with a profile and the high-resolution graphics make it fun to scroll through your Faves. Plus, if you set an image to go with a frequent caller, that picture will appear on your display-whether the phone is open or closed-when the person is calling you.

Some other defaults on the unit are less appealing.

The left-side convenience key comes set to Voice Dialing, which may not be so convenient if you're not a frequent user of it, and because it wants input from you immediately upon launch, it takes a few seconds to shut down. The other convenience key opens the camera.

To reset either one, go to Settings-->Options-->Screen/Keyboard and scroll down to Right (or Left) Side Convenience Key Opens. Scroll to highlight the selection, such as Default (Voice Dialing) and then press the track ball and select something else from the list that comes up. Press the BlackBerry menu to save your settings before exiting.


Blackberry, RIM, Research In Motion, BlackBerry Pearl Flip
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