The Business-Savvy Smartphone Review: Nokia E62, BlackBerry Pearl, T-Mobile Dash, Palm Treo 750
CIO compares four of the hottest smartphones available, from the perspective of four experienced IT executives.
Thu, April 26, 2007
RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8100 (Cingular)
The BlackBerry Pearl is not like other BlackBerrys. And that's no accident. But does this consumer-oriented smartphone still work for enterprise users? Despite business-friendly features, one IT executive says he'd buy a Pearl for himself ... but probably not for his IT staff. Find out why.
Research In Motion (RIM) has proven that it can do business phones right. Now it's moving on to bigger things. The handset maker has taken a lesson from Motorola's tiny, ultra-popular RAZR phone, and come up with the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. The Pearl is the first truly small handheld from RIM and the first BlackBerry to include features specifically aimed at consumers.
Because it is so different from other BlackBerrys, the Pearl is making a name for itself in both the trendy consumer space and the unforgiving business world as one of the hottest phones on the market. Named for the pearl-shaped trackball embedded in the center of its keyboard, the device is RIM's first move away from its trademark thumbwheel. The "pearl" is the device's central means of navigation. The handheld was initially offered in the United States by T-Mobile in September 2006, and later by Cingular in December.
To provide an inside perspective of the BlackBerry Pearl, we called on a real IT executive to review the device: Paul Roche, CIO of Network Services Company, a multibillion-dollar distribution organization with more than 400 warehouses located across the United States. Roche is particularly qualified to review the Pearl. His CEO recently came to the IT department with a brand new Pearl of his own, and since nobody else at Network Services used a BlackBerry, Roche had to get the device set up and linked to his network without any of the necessary ingredients in place.
The Bottom Line
The BlackBerry Pearl is without a doubt the most aesthetically pleasing device we reviewed. It is also a completely functional business device due to the high level of security it offers users, as well as its strong battery life and intuitive user interface. However, due to its small size and the lack of a full qwerty keyboard, the Pearl is best suited for users with smaller hands and for those who read lots of e-mail but don't frequently respond. (That should cover most of the managers in your office, unfortunately.) Because of the Pearl's delicacy, it's not suitable for users who carry a phone in their back pockets. (Crunch.)
Roche, together with his vice president of operations, determines which smartphones are deployed across Network Services. Although there are no official feature criteria, a full qwerty keyboard is a necessity, so Roche doesn't plan on deploying more BlackBerry Pearls anytime soon. However, he said, he would purchase it for use as his personal phone.