Up until now, globe-trotting Verizon Wireless customers may have felt a bit stymied by the limited world-roaming capabilities of the CDMA network. Sure, you can use CDMA in other countries but if your itinerary includes Europe, you're out of luck. But with the new RIM BlackBerry 8830 all of that changes as the dual-mode CDMA/GSM smart phone gives you freedom to make calls and receive e-mail around of the world. In addition, it offers EV-DO support, multimedia capabilities, and solid performance. The BlackBerry 8830 is available now through direct sales channels and will be widely available in retail stores starting May 28. Pricing starts at $299.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate, and data plans start at $64.99 for unlimited global e-mail with a U.S. voice plan (beginning at $39.99) and $69.99 for unlimited global e-mail without a voice plan.
The RIM BlackBerry 8830 shares the same body style as its GSM-only cousin, the BlackBerry 8800, but trades in the all-black casing for an equally sleek silver. At 4.4 inches high by 2.6 inches wide by 0.5 inches deep and 4.7 ounces, the 8830 is certainly slim but it's also one of the larger BlackBerrys we've seen of late. The wider and taller body makes it a tad awkward to use the 8830 as a phone, but as we noted in our BlackBerry 8800 review, this is typical of full-QWERTY BlackBerrys as well as Pocket PC phones and Treos.
The BlackBerry 8830 features a 2.5-inch (diagonal), 65,000-color display with a 320x240 pixel resolution. Below the display you'll find the trackball navigator, the Talk and End keys, and the Menu and Escape buttons. The 8830 also includes a light-sensing technology that automatically adjusts the backlighting of the screen, the keyboard, and the trackball, depending on whether you're indoors or outdoors.
Unfortunately, the BlackBerry 8830 is hobbled by the same full-QWERTY keyboard that bothered us on the BlackBerry 8800. The buttons are on the slippery side, and there's no spacing in between the keys, which we missed. It's not so bad we couldn't use the keyboard; we just much prefer the ones found the BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry 8703e.
There are volume keys on the right spine, while the left spine has a 2.5mm headset jack, a mini USB port, and a user-programmable convenience key (assigned to launch voice dialing by default). There is a microSD expansion slot behind the battery cover, as well as the SIM card slot. Finally, the power on/off and mute buttons are on the top of the unit.
Verizon packages the RIM BlackBerry 8830 with a travel charger, a USB cable, a SIM card, desktop software, and reference material. For additional add-ons and help, please check out our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The big draw of the RIM BlackBerry 8830 is its dual-mode functionality. With this capability, the phone switches automatically between CDMA and GSM networks to offer seamless international roaming--all while keeping the same phone number. (Note that the phone does not support domestic GSM bands.) In all, you get voice coverage in 157 countries (22 of those on CDMA) and e-mail coverage in 62 countries. Just be aware that you'll still incur roaming rates, which range from 69 cents to $2.49 a minute. Verizon also offers technical support if you need help while overseas. First, there's a 24-hour Global Help Desk that's open seven days a week. In addition, you get a calling card for free support calls while traveling outside of the United States from any landline phone to technical support if the BlackBerry 8830 is lost, broken, or stolen.