There are two ways to look at Research in Motion's latest BlackBerry handset. You could pass it off as "just another BlackBerry", the design of the full-QWERTY keyboard and rounded edges suggest this, but we think that would be unfair. The 8900 is gorgeous, the combination of its stainless steel trim, piano black finish and the amazing display add to make this one of the more attractive phones on the shelf at your local mobile phone dealer.
RIM is excited to show off the 8900 as its slimmest and lightest full-QWERTY handset to date. You might be surprised to read this if you've seen the 8900, it might be BlackBerry's thinnest, but it's no supermodel in the smartphone stakes. Its 13.5mm waistline seems chubby next to a iPhone, and its rounded corners give it a plump appearance — not that we mind its plumpness so much.or an
The keyboard is in line with BlackBerry's best. The keys are separated to give them just enough definition, so while each is tiny, we've found the 8900 very easy to type on. Like the Bold before it, the 8900 uses a jogball that is directly below the screen to navigate. The default setting for the cursor controlled by the jogball is set to quite a sensitive setting by default, this allows for fast movement across the menus and web pages, but some users may find it moves too quickly to be accurate. This can be easily adjusted in the phone's settings.
As mentioned above, the screen is stunning. Its HVGA (320x480) resolution may not sound so impressive, and its 2.4-inch screen is far from the biggest in the smartphone market, but it has to be seen to be believed. Colours pop off the screen, the blacks are deep, rich black, and all text is crisp and sharp. This, in unison with the side-mounted 3.5mm headphone jack, makes for an excellent media experience.
The 8900 runs on RIM's latest BlackBerry firmware, version 4.2. This means you get the same experience and the snazzy new menu layout we saw last year on the Bold and Pearl Flip 8220. It also means the 8900 should be compatible with the BlackBerry App World when its finally ready for Australians. Provided you're signed up to a BlackBerry service account, you'll have access to the first-rate BlackBerry email system and the mostly good BlackBerry web browser.
In line with its 2008 releases, the 8900 is pitched equally as media-mogul and business workhorse. It has a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash on the back of the handset and the built-in Roxio media player is capable of DivX, XviD, WMV and MP4 video files, as well as playing MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA audio. Media transfers are taken care of by the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, which will transcode video files during the sync to optimise them for playback on your handset.