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BlackBerry 8700 / 8700c

 BlackBerry 8700c Discontinued
1st November 2005

The BlackBerry 8700c is the first handset available in Research in Motion's (RIM) new range of Intel-based smartphones. The 8700c is available exclusively on the Cingular network in the US, but other variants should follow in 2006 on other networks worldwide.

It looks a little like a cross between the BlackBerry 7100 series and the "classic" BlackBerry 7230 and 7290 when it comes to styling. There are several major improvements though, meaning that the 8700c is a significantly more sophisticated handset when it comes to technical specifications.

The screen is now a 320x240 pixel panel in 65,000 colours. RIM describe it as using "active matrix transmissive technology", which sounds more like the type of screen used in the 7100 series than the classic 7200 series. The BlackBerry 8700c is almost imperceptibly smaller and lighter than the 7230 at 136 grams and 110x70x20mm, so users who are familiar with older models will have no problem adjusting. However, that does mean that it's quite a large device to use as a standard mobile handset, but as the 8700c comes with Bluetooth, it can always be used with a compatible headset, or even by using the 8700's builtin handsfree calling. Talktime is 4 hours with up to 16 days standby.

RIM haven't mucked around too much with the excellent BlackBerry keyboard, but they have added answer, mute and hang up keys.. something that was conspicuously missing from earlier handsets. It's a quad-band GSM phone with GPRS and EDGE support, but no 3G.. however, EDGE will be great for those who have access to it. There's no camera either, which will be a relief to many businesses. Internal memory is just 64Mb, but most corporate Blackberry users don't find this to be a problem.

 BlackBerry 8700c back The 8700's software has also had a makeover, and it includes a range of PIM functions, a web browser (which will benefit from the 320 pixel wide display) and a version of breakout. Because this is a smartphone, more applications can be added at a later date. Email is the BlackBerry's strong point, and it's compatible with RIM's own push email system and standard internet mail protocols, which can also view a variety of common attachment types. For a little bit of added fun, the BlackBerry 8700 now supports polyphonic and MP3 ringtones - there's no media player on the 8700c though.

Much has been made of the 8700c being the first "Intel" BlackBerry, but the 312MHz PXA901 (also known as "Hermon") isn't the kind of processor you'd find in a desktop PC. In fact, it's just a faster variant of the ARM processor used in previous BlackBerry devices, and really the fact that it's made by Intel is pretty irrelevant. You are not going to be able to run Windows applications on the BlackBerry 8700.

RIM say that the BlackBerry 8700c should be available in the US on the Cingular network from 21st November 2005. However, RIM have had some severe patent difficulties in the States and it's quite possible that the 8700c may run into legal difficulties at some point. However, other 8700 series variants should follow after a few months of "exclusivity", most likely a BlackBerry 8700t for T-Mobile, 8100v for Vodafone and probably many others worldwide.

Our verdict - the BlackBerry 8700c is perhaps not as feature packed as the Motorola Moto Q or Nokia E61, but it does seem to be very well focussed on the needs of businesses who may not be impressed by cameras, MP3 players and WiFi. The 7230 and 7290 devices have proven to be very popular with corporate customers and many individual subscribers, so it is quite likely that the 8700 series will be another highly usable and popular range.

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BlackBerry 8700c at a glance

Available:

Q4 2005

Network:

Quad-band GSM

Data:

GPRS + EDGE

Screen:

320x240 pixels, 65,000 colours

Camera:

No

Size:

PDA-style device
110x70x20mm / 136 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

Battery life:

4 hours talk / 16 days standby

 

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