BlackBerry 8700g (T-Mobile) review: BlackBerry 8700g (T-Mobile)

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The Good The RIM BlackBerry 8700g offers easy e-mail setup and adds support for popular instant-messaging clients. The quadband 8700g also comes with an Intel processor, EDGE speeds, Bluetooth 2.0, a speakerphone, and a full QWERTY keyboard.

The Bad The BlackBerry 8700g's keyboard feels a bit cheap and slippery. Also, there are no expansion options, and we encountered some problems viewing PDFs on the device.

The Bottom Line The RIM BlackBerry 8700g offers T-Mobile consumer and business users a robust, user-friendly messaging device and cell phone with great performance.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

RIM BlackBerry 8700g

Ever since the Research in Motion-vs.-NTP battle escalated, we haven't heard too much from RIM in terms of product announcements--until now. Along with T-Mobile, RIM introduced the BlackBerry 8700g at CTIA this year, replacing the BlackBerry 7290 and sprucing up T-Mobile's smart-phone lineup. Like its cousin, the BlackBerry 8700c for Cingular, the BlackBerry 8700g offers users a next-gen device with a full QWERTY keyboard, and it comes with an Intel processor and EDGE speeds for faster performance. In addition to support for Bluetooth 2.0 and up to 10 corporate or personal e-mail accounts, the 8700g offers some extras that make it more consumer-friendly and easier to use right out of the box than the 8700c. Overall, the device delivers on all fronts: as a phone, an e-mail machine, and a handheld. The RIM BlackBerry 8700g will cost $299.99 with a two-year contract (or $349.99 with a one-year contract) and will be available on April 17. Unlike the RIM BlackBerry 7290 it replaces, the RIM BlackBerry 8700g offers a sleeker and more compact package at 4.3 by 2.7 by 0.7 inches and 4.7 ounces. Sure, it doesn't have the cell phone form factor of the BlackBerry 7100 series, and if you're new to BlackBerrys, the device's squarish shape will take acclimation, but in return, you get a full QWERTY keyboard and a spacious 2.5-inch-diagonal QVGA display.

While we're on the subject, the BlackBerry 8700g's screen is gorgeous. It displays 65,000 hues with a 320x240-pixel resolution--a vast improvement over the BlackBerry 7290. Colors are vibrant, with sharp, clearly defined images and text. It's great for navigating the intuitive menu or for viewing Web pages and images. The display also features a light-sensing technology that automatically adjusts for your environment, depending on whether you're indoors, outdoors, or in the dark. We put it to the test, and we're happy to report that the screen was always readable. You can also adjust the backlight's brightness and time-out settings, as well as font size and type, all through the Options menu. A small LED above the screen flashes different colors to alert you to various messages: green for network activity, red for message notification, yellow for low battery, and blue for Bluetooth connectivity.

Like the latest crop of BlackBerrys, the 8700g features Send and End keys for more of a cell phone-like experience.

Below the display, you'll notice the 35-button QWERTY keyboard along with the new Send/End and soft keys also found on recent BlackBerrys. The center soft key, or the front convenience key as RIM calls it, can be programmed to launch any application, as can the side convenience key on the left spine. The keyboard itself is fairly spacious, and we had no problems firing off quick e-mails and text messages. Yet, while they are well backlit, we didn't enjoy the slippery and plasticky feel of the keys.

Aside from the aforementioned side convenience key, there's a USB port and a headset jack on the left side, while the familiar track wheel and Escape button are on the right. As with the BlackBerry 8700c, you can toggle between different applications by pressing the Alt button on the keyboard, then Escape. Rounding out the BlackBerry 8700g's chassis are power and mute buttons on top, as well as the speakerphone on the mobile's backside. RIM packages the 8700g with a healthy set of accessories, including a wired headset, a belt holster, a USB cable, an AC adapter, and a travel charger.

The RIM BlackBerry 8700g shares many features with its cousin, the BlackBerry 8700c, but it offers new tricks that should attract more consumers. We'll discuss some of the similarities first. The 8700g takes advantage of the same 312MHz PXA901 Intel processor for enhanced performance, and it supports T-Mobile's EDGE network for faster Web browsing and download times.

As a phone, the address book is limited only by the available memory, which tops out at 64MB of flash memory and 16MB of SDRAM; the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. For each entry, you can store up to eight numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail and Web addresses, company information, and notes. In addition, you can assign them to a group category: business or personal. You get 35 polyphonic ring tones with support for MP3s, a vibrate mode, conference calling, speed dialing, call forwarding, and a speakerphone. For wireless headsets, car kits, and desktop connectivity, Bluetooth 2.0 is onboard as well. As a quadband phone, the 8700g can be used overseas.

In addition to Bluetooth 2.0, the RIM BlackBerry 8700g offers a speakerphone for hands-free calling.

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