In case any of you T-Mobile customers were frothing with jealousy over AT&T's next-gen RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120, you can rest easy knowing that you'll be able to get your hands on one starting April 14. T-Mobile's version is largely like the AT&T model, though it does add support for the carrier's HotSpot@Home service, allowing you to make calls over a wireless network. More importantly, Wi-Fi means you're not restricted to Web browsing on poky EDGE speeds. The Pearl 8120 includes a number of other improvements as well, including a better Web browser and a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capabilities--all making for a nice upgrade to the original Pearl. To sweeten the deal, T-Mobile offers its RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120 for $50 less than AT&T at $149.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates.
Other than a drab, gray paint job, the T-Mobile RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120 is physically identical to the AT&T model, measuring a petite 4.2 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep and 3.2 ounces. The phone's compact size continues to be one of the main draws of the device, and it's attractive to both guys and gals since it's small enough to fit in a pants pocket and slim enough to put in a small purse.
There's a 2.25-inch nontouch display on front with a 65,000-color output and 260x240 pixel resolution. It also features an auto light-sensing technology that will automatically adjust the backlighting depending on your current environment. As with all the latest T-Mobile phones, the Pearl 8120 supports the carrier's MyFaves plan so you can have your default screen automatically display your MyFaves contacts. Alternatively, you can try out RIM's new graphics, fonts, and themes, which includes an L-shaped menu. As we noted in the AT&T Pearl 8120 review, this isn't anything mind-blowing but just another way to customize your handset. And of course, beneath the display, you'll find the SureType keyboard and navigation array of a Talk and End keys, a BlackBerry menu shortcut, a back button, and the trackball.
On the left side, you have a 3.5mm headphone jack, a mini USB port, a microSD expansion slot, and a customizable convenience key that launches Voice Dialing by default. Meanwhile, you will find a volume rocker and a camera activation key on the right and a mute button on top. The camera lens, self-portrait mirror, and flash are located on the back.
T-Mobile packages its RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120 with an AC adapter, a mini USB cable, a carrying case, a wired headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check out our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8120 builds on the success of the original Pearl by bringing a number of new features, most notably integrated Wi-Fi. The smartphone supports 802.11a/b/g standards, and there are enterprise security features, including WEP, WPA, and VPN settings. The addition of Wi-Fi is particularly nice since it gives you an alternative connection for surfing the Web, rather than poking along on T-Mobile's EDGE network. This, coupled with the Pearl 8120's enhanced Web browser, makes for a better and smoother mobile Internet experience.
Like the BlackBerry 8820, the Pearl also works with T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home service, which lets you make and receive calls via 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. However, you do need a HotSpot@Home plan, which costs $9.99 per month on top of an existing T-Mobile plan. There is also a family plan that costs $19.99 a month and includes up to five cell phones.
Of course, you can make regular calls, too. The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 is a quad-band world phone and offers a speakerphone, voice-activated dialing, smart dialing, conference calling, speed dial, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts) with room in each entry for eight phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work and home addresses, job title, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a photo to a contact as well a group category--business or personal--or one of 45 polyphonic ringtones. We should note that the Address Book has a slightly new interface that groups information in separate panels. It's a little cosmetic change but also makes it easier to find the info that you need.
As we mentioned earlier, the T-Mobile Pearl 8120 is compatible with the carrier's MyFaves service, which gives you unlimited calling to five contacts, regardless of carrier. Individual plans for MyFaves start at $39.99 a month. You also get Bluetooth 2.0 with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth wireless headsets, hands-free kits, and dial-up networking. Sadly, there is no built-in GPS, though you can add this functionality with a Bluetooth GPS receiver.