Review: BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100

Overall Rating

By David Flynn, October 25 2010
BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100
The Good
  • Great looks and style
  • 3G (first time in a Pearl)
The Bad
  • Only available on Telstra and Vodafone
  • Still waiting for the upgrade to BlackBerry 6 OS
  • The best of the Pearl and Bold combined


Pearl on the outside, Bold on the inside: this is RIM’s recipe for the BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100.


Pearl on the outside, Bold on the inside: this is RIM’s recipe for the BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9100.

This third-gen refresh to the Pearl is built on the same blueprint as the Bold 9000 and 9700 series.

The upshot? Fast 3G connectivity, a sharp higher-res screen and a snappy 624MHz processor so there’s no lag when working through menus or switching between apps.

Ironically the Pearl also gives up the sheeny trackball from which it drew its name, replacing this with a touch-sensitive trackpad.

It even sports something no Bold has got: 802.11n wireless, although that’s useful only if you’re connected to a fast Wi-Fi network in the office, hotel or home.

For most of the time the Pearl 9100 will be buzzing away on 3G, with the handset available through Telstra and Vodafone on their respective 3G networks.

Even now that it’s packing Bold-class tech the Pearl remains RIM’s entry-level BlackBerry and one with an eye towards the consumer market.

Adele Beachley, Managing Director for RIM ANZ, describes the Pearl 3G 9100 as being for “the first-time smartphone buyer” in the small business segment as well as consumers seeking a phone that combines fashion and function.

And there’s no doubting the Pearl 9100 is a BlackBerry for the ‘booted and suited’ brigade.  While being almost the same pocket-friendly size and weight as the original Pearl 8100 series – there’s only four grams and a few millimetres between them – the 9100 looks and feels a class apart.

The elegant design takes its cues from the Bold 9700 with perfect balance in the hand and a far superior keypad to the 8100.

Like all BlackBerry phones the Pearl 3G 9100 excels at email but is still behind the game when it comes to mobile Web browsing. You'll see a much more desktop-like (and dare we say, iPhone-like) browser in the forthcoming BlackBerry 6 operating system, which will shortly be released as a free upgrade to the Pearl 9100.

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