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BlackBerry 8700 - BlackBerries Everywhere

Available now
3rd April 2006

Our first glimpse of the BlackBerry 8700 series was last year, with the 8700c for the US Cingular network. Since then, the BlackBerry's manufacturers RIM have successfully pushed out variants of the 8700 into many major markets. Although primarily sold as the 8700g, there are also network specific versions for Rogers of Canada (8700c), Orange and subsidiaries (8700f) and Vodafone and partners (8700v). The differences between the models appear to be mainly styling and software.

 BlackBerry 8700c

 BlackBerry 8700f

 BlackBerry 8700g Black

 BlackBerry 8700g Blue

 BlackBerry 8700r

 BlackBerry 8700v

Blackberry 8700c

BlackBerry 8700f 

BlackBerry 8700g
(Black)

BlackBerry 8700g
(Blue)

BlackBerry 8700r 

BlackBerry 8700v 

From a business perspective, the rapid take-up of the 8700 is impressive. At the time of going to press, the BlackBerry 8700 appears to be available in these countries. Some of these sell to business customers only - especially Vodafone who are notoriously reluctant to sell sophisticated hardware to consumers (especially in the UK).

 BlackBerry 8700 vs 7290 How does the BlackBerry 8700 (pictured left) compare with the older 7290 model (pictured right) though? At first glance, the 8700 and 7290 are about the same size, but significantly the 8700 is narrower at 110x70x20mm compared to 113x75x22mm for the 7290. This makes it slightly more practical to fit the 8700 in a pocket.

The more compact size sounds great - but it comes at a price. In our opinion, the keyboard layout on the BlackBerry 7290 and previous models (based on a design going back to 1999 or so on the RIM 850) is hard to beat. The keyboard on the 8700 is considerably more cramped, and users of the older style keypad might find some difficulty adjusting. On the plus side, the 8700 now has "send", "mute" and "end" keys.

The 8700's screen is amazing though - it's a 320x240 pixel panel in 65,000 colours compared to the 240x160 pixel display on the 7290. It's very similar to the display on the BlackBerry 7100 series - it's a very sharp, very bright display that uses a backlight all the time while in use, compared to the 7290's transflective display that rarely needed a backlight at all. The 8700's display certainly looks more impressive, but the screen on the 7290 used virtually no power and it could be used in almost all lighting conditions.

 BlackBerry 8700g default theme The interface on the 8700 series has been changed.. it's certainly more snazzy, but on the 8700g it's just too snazzy. The 7290's interface was simple and clear, the standard design on the 8700g is rather manic.. although it is possible to change themes and download new ones, depending on the operator. By default, the 8700c, 8700f and 8700v seem to be more usable.

These are all Bluetooth capable devices, which is an improvement over most earlier BlackBerry handhelds. Handsets of this type just do not make good mobile telephones, so a Bluetooth headset is a great help. All the 8700s support quad-band GSM, GPRS and EDGE, but not 3G or WiFi which puts them at a disadvantage compared to the (very late) Nokia E61.

There's no expandable memory, MP3 player or camera. These are either good or bad things depending on your point of view, but in our opinion an MP3 player and memory slot would be nice.

Our experience with the 8700g was a mixed one - it's certainly a good device, and it does the job it's designed for very well. But then so does the 7290, and if you just use your BlackBerry for messaging then the 7290 (and indeed the 7230 and 7730) will probably do the job just fine.. however, if you're using a non-Bluetooth BlackBerry, then the 8700 could be a good opportunity to trade up.


BlackBerry 8700c / 8700g / 8700v / 8700r / 8700f availability (end March 2006)

United States
Cingular - 8700c
Dobson Cellular - 8700g

Canada
Rogers Wireless - 8700r

Austria
Mobilkom - 8700v
T-Mobile - 8700g

Belgium
Mobistar - 8700f

 France
Orange - 8700f
Bouygues Telecom - 8700g

Germany
T-Mobile - 8700g
E-Plus-  8700g
O2 - 8700g
Vodafone - 8700v

Italy
TIM - 8700g

Netherlands
KPN - 8700g

 Spain
Telefónica Móviles - 8700g
Vodafone - 8700v

United Kingdom
T-Mobile - 8700g
Vodafone - 8700v
O2 - 8700g
Orange - 8700g

Australia
Vodafone - 8700v
Optus - 8700g

Hong Kong
SmarTone - 8700v

India
AirTel - 8700g

Malaysia
Maxis - 8700g

Thailand
AIS - 8700g


BlackBerry 8700 series at a glance

Available:

Now

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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