The original BlackBerry had a pager-style design befitting its role as a corporate email tool. With an eye on consumers, Vodafone is offering the BlackBerry 7100v, which keeps the push email system but looks and feels like rival smartphones such as the Orange SPV E200.
The Qwerty keyboard has been jettisoned in favour of keys in which one button houses two letters. Users press the button and, in theory, the SureType predictive text system works out the words. However, the keyboard is slower than the original.
The 7100v, which costs from nothing to £82.50 plus monthly fee, boasts more storage (32MB), an effective web browser and is relatively easy to set up. It is a superb email device – especially for corporate customers who get messages forwarded the moment they hit the company server.
However, it is hard to recommend to consumers, since messages are only forwarded every 15 minutes and there’s no way of instantly accessing messages by pressing a receive button. The keyboard is also big drawback. The other Blackberry devices may not be the most attractive handsets around, but a major selling point was the ease with which you could compose emails on the qwerty keypads. The decision to double up the letters on each number keys makes typing far more confusing, and it is likely to reduce the 7100v’s popularity in the long run.
Do you need it?
You’re a lot less likely to reply to every email that gets sent your way on this model, which isn’t going to make Vodafone too happy. If you just want to check your emails on the road, it’s ideal, but those hoping to compose long messages on a regular basis will be disappointed.