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first takeThe BlackBerry 8800 offers several improvements to its predecessor,
including GPS and the Pearl trackwheel, although it doesn't support 3G.
RIM's latest smartphone, the BlackBerry 8800, improves on the 8700 and combines the style of BlackBerry's consumer-focused, candybar-shaped Pearl
8100 with the look and feel of previous PDA-shaped models sporting QWERTY keypads.
An immediately noticeable difference is that RIM has dropped the trackwheel from
previous models in favour of the Pearl's trackball. The look is reminiscent of the Pearl, too, with the 8800 sporting a matte black and glossy silver finish.
The 8800 is RIM's smallest PDA-sized BlackBerry to date and even thinner than the Pearl, measuring in at 114 by 66 by 14mm. At 134g it has a solid feel, which shouldn't weigh you down if you're carrying it around all day.
RIM has also improved on the Pearl's memory card slot, this time placing it above the battery, meaning
users can swap out the microSD card without having to remove the battery.
Downside Although the 8800 has built-in GPS, there are currently no local maps
pre-loaded into the BlackBerry Maps application. RIM says it hopes to
offer this at a later stage as a free upgrade or through a third-party
While the 8800 keeps the Pearl's trackball, it lacks a camera. This isn't surprising considering RIM's catering for an enterprise crowd, but even a basic
camera, like the Palm Treo 750's, wouldn't go astray.
Lack of 3G support is also missing -- the 8800 is a quad-band 2.5G phone. Internet browsing didn't grind to a halt during our quick play, but GRPS certainly can't match the quick and nimble speeds of 3.5G phones. A RIM spokesperson told ZDNet
Australia that HSDPA and 3G support is being considered for future models, but an official announcement is yet to be made.
The 8800 is expected to be available in Australia in May for a recommended retail price of AU$899. While not a radical departure from the previous model, the incremental improvements should entice existing and new customers alike, though the lack of 3G support may be a barrier for some.