Lounge Review |
Pearls of wisdom
Is a BlackBerry a BlackBerry if it doesn’t have a full Qwerty keyboard?
Depending on which side of that fence you sit on, the new BlackBerry Pearl 9105 is either an immediate buy, or a device that has one niggling fault that makes it a pain to use.
The rest of the package, however, is a no-brainer. The 9105 is one of the best BlackBerry devices we’ve used in recent times. It is alluringly proportioned, adequately powered and really good to look at. For once, this is a BlackBerry handset that combines the best of both the new Curve and the old Pearl series with the excellent fifth version of the BlackBerry operating system.
Take it out of the box. Hold it in your hands for a bit. Let the weight, size and design settle into your conscience. Yes, yes it is small. But without being feminine. Thanks to those signature BlackBerry curves around the edges and the combination of shiny and matt textures, the 9105 is both classy but also a little bit macho. And my God, is there a little Vertu going on here with the overall shape and keyboard layout? Switch it on to enjoy the smooth interface, the bright, beautiful screen and that joyful trackpad.
Nokia C3-00: Rs7,000 Blackberry Pearl 9105: Rs19,000
If you’re a regular user of BlackBerry’s Qwerty keyboard, the 14-key regular phone pad here will drive you up the wall. SureType, BlackBerry’s predictive input system, is a valiant attempt. The software does useful things such as add contact information to the predicted text.
But typing long emails with unconventional words (ossum!) or complicated names (Vadukut!) can be exhausting. There are also some issues with build quality. Hold up the phone in a dark place and you can see the light bleeding from around the keypad.
And finally there is an infuriating software bug. Sometimes when the phone gets a call, it rings without doing anything else. Nothing happens to the screen display. Nothing at all. The phone just rings while the rest of it carries on as if nothing happened.
The 9105 will cost you approximately Rs19,000, but as with all Berrys, prices will drop subsequently. But at a similar price, the 9100, with a regular Qwerty keyboard, might work much better.
This is interesting. And a little sad. It appears to me that Nokia’s new C3 phone is pretty much a rip-off of those popular Micromax and Maxx Qwerty phones, that themselves are rip-offs of Nokia’s E63 phone. The E63 is a wonderful phone, a great combination of hardware and software. And it had a highly user-friendly keyboard.
The C3 then is a rip-off of a rip-off. But can two rip-offs make a right?
As much as we like Nokia and everything the brand has done for mobile enthusiasts over the last few years, we have to admit that their handsets have stopped exciting us for some time. Let’s face it. When was the last time you really, really wanted to buy a Nokia phone? Sure most of the E series phones are superb. And the MusicXpress series with the free music deal is a bargain. Not to mention the fact that most Nokia phones are still well put together. But of late buying a Nokia phone has become a question of calculations. A value proposition rather than a passion proposition.
Your decision to buy the C3 will be a similar one.
Is there a phone with such a high-quality Qwerty keypad and Wi-Fi connectivity available at a price of Rs7,000? This is comparable with any branded, unbranded or some-branded phone on the market. Yet typing on the device is a dream, thanks to large, well-shaped keys.
Another key feature of the phone is the tight social networking integration. The device comes with inbuilt Facebook and Twitter clients that also hook up with the home screen to show messages and message count. Signing in and out of the service was easy enough, though we did experience some instability with the Twitter app over Wi-Fi. The phone has all the necessary multimedia features. There were two standouts in this department. One was the on-board speaker that plays audio nicely even at high volume. The quality was much better than the BlackBerry Pearl 3G.
The audio recorder also impressed. It records clips up to 1 hour long and does so at good quality.
And finally there is the Wi-Fi. The C3 hooked up to a home network without a glitch. Within moments I was able to jettison the on-board browser for Opera and surf away.
The C3, however, also has many tiny botherations. The screen is good for the price. But very small. The 2MP camera shoots poor photos and even worse videos. And for some bizarre reason you can’t charge the phone via the USB port. You HAVE to use the charger. And finally there is the S40 operating system. Very old. Very, very old.
The hardware and software (except the keys) are both underwhelming, but at least the phone looks quite pleasant. Highly recommended for students and other buyers on a budget. Will it save Nokia? Tee hee.