While the 7130g looks different from the first BlackBerry units, it’s basically an update of last year’s 7100 series candy-bar handsets. Contained within its slimline shape is more memory, plus a faster 312MHz processor speed than the traditional-shaped 8700 BlackBerry RIM launched at the start of the year.
On this svelte, more phone-like handset – which has been designed so it can be used single-handed when needed – characters double up on the combined QWERTY keyboard and numerical keypad. However, the two-tone keys naturally draw your eye to the numbers rather than the letters, so you may be reduced to hunting and pecking when composing a text message or email – especially if you’re used to the alphanumeric format associated with mobile phones.
As a phone, it’s well constructed and zipping from application to application is a doddle. 02 is the exclusive vendor of the 7130g in the UK, so you get a smart aqueous background and a vertical application list to scroll down – rather than the left-to-right menu of the original BlackBerry screens.
RIM continues to position its products at business users and claims a corporation’s need for security precludes it from producing handsets with built-in cameras. It doesn’t offer an MP3 player either. But you can kill time playing BrickBreaker or Texas Hold’em. And you now get Bluetooth.
It’s harder to scroll around the screen than with a touch-screen PDA, but we like the fact that you don’t need to fiddle with a stylus. However, if you’re trying to use Google Maps – which comes preloaded – you must hold down the large down-arrow key at the bottom left and use it in tandem with the scroll wheel to get around. Google Maps is good – though we got impatient with the GPRS connection updating the map – and getting online this way is far easier than hunting down WiFi zones.
Usefully, some third-party eOffice software is supplied. You just get a trial of the Excel, Word and PowerPoint-esque applications and must pay $199 to get the Standard version from Handango (www.handango.com), but extending the BlackBerry in this way enables you to write and edit documents while on the go, which is bound to appeal to RIM’s business-focused users.
If you want a phone with email and decent address book and calendar functions that works well with iSync, this is the one for you. It has a screen large enough to comfortably view messages, maps, websites and documents and – as long as you possess dextrous digits – the BlackBerry 7130g is ideal.