BlackBerry 8820 (T-Mobile) review: BlackBerry 8820 (T-Mobile)

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The Good The RIM BlackBerry 8820 for T-Mobile brings the addition of Wi-Fi and support for the carrier's HotSpot@Home service. The smartphone continues to offer solid e-mail functionality and Bluetooth, GPS, and multimedia capabilities.

The Bad The BlackBerry 8820 doesn't include the improved Web browser found on newer BlackBerrys, so there's more work involved in navigating pages. The handset is slightly bulky, and we wish it was equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Bottom Line The RIM BlackBerry 8820 one-ups the BlackBerry 8830 and offers T-Mobile business customers a well-connected smartphone with the addition of Wi-Fi.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

Spring has arrived and the flowers are blooming, and apparently so are the BlackBerrys. Just last week, RIM released the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 for AT&T, and now T-Mobile is getting the RIM BlackBerry 8820. It isn't the freshest model on the market; in fact, AT&T has had this model for a few months. However, it does present T-Mobile customers with a better-equipped business smartphone than the current RIM BlackBerry 8830, since it brings the addition of Wi-Fi and support for the carrier's HotSpot@Home service. It also continues to offer Bluetooth, GPS, and of course, e-mail capabilities. Minor gripes include a kludgey Web browser and design flaws, but overall, the BlackBerry 8820 will serve mobile professionals well. The RIM BlackBerry 8820 is available starting today for $349.99 with a two-year contract.

Physically, the RIM BlackBerry 8820 doesn't differ much from the AT&T model of the 8820. It does sport a midnight blue casing rather than a black one, but the dimensions remain the same at 4.5 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep and it weighs 4.7 ounces. The 8820 is the largest device of the current crop of BlackBerrys so it feels a bit wide when using it as a phone, but it's still thin enough that you should be able to slip it into a pants pocket comfortably.

The RIM BlackBerry 8820 is one of the larger devices in the BlackBerry family. It's pictured here with the RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8130.

There's a 2.5-inch nontouch display that shows 65,000 colors at a 320x240 pixel resolution. It also features the same light-sensing technology found on the latest BlackBerrys that will automatically adjust the backlighting depending on your environment. Text and images look sharp on the BlackBerry 8820's screen, and you can customize the home screen with various themes, background images, and font sizes. Being a T-Mobile phone, there's also the option to have your MyFaves contacts up front and center if you choose to add this service.

The BlackBerry 8820's full QWERTY keyboard is tactile and fairly roomy, but the buttons are a bit slippery.

Below the screen, you'll find the now-standard BlackBerry navigation array of Talk and End keys, a Main Menu shortcut, a back button, and a trackball. The full QWERTY keyboard features good-size buttons that have raised ridges for a more tactile feel. Still, the lacquered finish makes the buttons a bit slippery, and there isn't much spacing between the keys, which may be troublesome to people with larger thumbs.

Some other things of note: The left spine has a 2.5mm headset jack, a mini USB port, and a programmable convenience key that launches Voice Dialing by default. There's a volume rocker on the right side, while a power key and mute button are on the top of the handset. Finally, you will find a microSD/SDHC expansion slot behind the battery cover; it's in an inconvenient location but does accept cards up to 4GB. There is no camera on the BlackBerry 8820.

T-Mobile packages the RIM BlackBerry 8820 with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a protective case/belt holster, a pair of earbuds, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ring tones, and help page.

The RIM BlackBerry 8820 is designed to be a business-minded smartphone and comes with a proper arsenal of features for the mobile professional. Of course, one of the biggest attractions of the 8820 is its wide range of wireless options. First, Bluetooth 2.0 is onboard, bringing support for mono and stereo wireless headsets, hands-free kits, and dial-up networking. The smartphone is also equipped with a GPS radio, so you can get real-time location tracking abilities and turn-by-turn driving directions with navigation software. The BlackBerry 8820 comes with BlackBerry Maps installed, but you can also add other mapping applications such as Google Maps for Mobile.

The smartphone is equipped with a GPS radio and did an impressive job with real-time tracking.

The bigger news, of course, is the addition of Wi-Fi, which was sorely missing in the BlackBerry 8830. The BlackBerry 8820 supports 802.11a/b/g, whether you're using your home or corporate network or hopping onto a Wi-Fi hot spot. There are enterprise security features, including WEP, WPA, and VPN settings. Having Wi-Fi is great since it gives you an alternative to surfing the Web using T-Mobile's EDGE network. Plus, the 8820 is also compatible with T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home service, which lets you make and receive calls via preconfigured wireless networks. The benefit of this is that calls made via Wi-Fi will not be deducted from your cellular plan, meaning you get unlimited calls as long as you're within range of the hot spot.

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