Blackberry 8830 (verizon) Review

   Posted June 5, 2007 by Jimmy Selix in Technology reviews

Ah yes, a new Blackberry from Verizon that promises to be a true “global” phone in that it has both GSM and CDMA radios. Add to that a much sexier design and the pearl scroller and you get the new 8830e from Verizon. So, does the 8830 live up to the Blackberry name or does it fail? Lets find out!


Blackberry 8830e World Edition Review (Verizon)

Verizon released the BB8830 at the end of May 2007. This Blackberry is aimed towards the business sector and in turn lacks a camera (since most organizations/courts do not allow camera phones due to espionage/priveledged information that can easily be stolen w/a camera phone). The 8830 does away w/the scroll wheel on the side and takes a cue from the Pearl and has its own ‘pearl’ trackball for navigating. One of the biggest perks to this phone versus most Verizon phones is the inclusion of a GSM radio (data and voice, quad band) and SIM card. This will allow the BB8830 to be used worldwide, hence the World Edition branding. So, does the 8830e live up to the Blackberry name and worth the upgrade from the 8700 series? Lets find out!

Packaging/Contents:

The Verizon box comes w/the following items:

    -Blackberry 8830e phone
    -Leather holster w/magnetic strap
    -AC Adapter w/several ‘world’ power adapters
    -USB Cable
    -CDs w/BB Desktop Manager and VZAccess Manager
    -User Manuals
    -Sim Card (optional, only get this if you subscribe to the Global plan (data and voice via Vodafone/SIM card)

The packaging is your usual Verizon flair. No wired handsfree set (which seems to be a common theme these days w/Sprint and Verizon), but the usual AC and USB Cables.

Setting Up:

The first thing you’ll notice when you get your BB8830 out of the box is how dang hard it is to open up the battery cover. I thought I was going to crush the screen trying to get the cover off the first time. The trick seems to be to push the button on the back in and then use your other hand to slide it down. Also, the SIM card slot is located to the left of the MicroSD slot (not very obvious, almost seems hidden).

After getting the phone charged up, I had to do the activation part which is pretty simple w/Verizon. Just dial *228 and follow the prompts to activate the phone (you may need to call Verizon if this does not work). Once I had done that, I ran through the Phone Setup Wizard that lets you choose your language, email type (BES vs BIS), and also gives you some hints on using the 8830.

Finally, I had my BES admin reset my PIN on the BES and then ran through the Enterprise Activation. Like most Blackberries, this was very painless and easy. Within about 20 minutes of the phone being charged, I was off and using my new BB8830.

Applications/OS:

Again, nothing really has changed in these regards except ONE BIG THING, the Email/Messages application now has a Spell Check feature. This feature had been missing in all previous Blackberry devices/OS; the only way to get a spell checking feature to work involved installing the service on the BES or using a thirdparty application.

All the other items have remained the same and use the same type of menus/hotkeys as previous Blackberries (compared to the 8703e). The voice command application seems to work pretty well, I really have not used that feature since I’m not the type to keep my BT Headset on when not making calls.

The media player is pretty decent for a Blackberry. It will playback MP3s/Music (stored on an external MicroSD), pictures, videos from the card. You may want to check RIM’s site for more details on the exact file types it will play. Also, the MicroSD slot will be recognized as a Mass USB Device in Windows so you can easily drag and drop files onto the memory stick or sync via Windows Media Player.

The phone has not locked up or frozen yet (unlike the Motorola Q or Treo’s I tested when they were first released). RIM seems to have tested the phone quite thoroughly thus the stability of the phone.

Hardware:

The Pearl scroller is very nice for reading emails, especially the longer ones. It will take a few minutes to get used to the Menu button being a seperate button however pushing the Pearl scroller will bring up the Menu options usually too.

Also, like most Corporate-aimed devices, this phone does not have any Camera built-in. My sources say that Verizon will be releasing a more Consumer-aimed device later this year that will be identical to the 8830e World Edition but will include a camera (most likely a 1.3 or 2.0mp).

The inclusion of a MicroSD card slot is always a nice add-on. However, the placement of the slot is very annoying. To change out your card you have to try to remove the invincible battery cover. I guess I have gotten spoiled w/most other phones w/external memory cards having external slots. Nonetheless a minor gripe since the 8830 does allow one to encrypt their MicroSD card so that the data on it can only be read w/your phone.

The keyboard also has changed to be more like the Pearl’s design. There are no spaces between the keys, rather they are flushed. The keys also have ‘dimples’ on them to help you know if your on the rightside or leftside of the keyboard. The new keyboard will take a day or two to get used to but works as well as the one on the 8703e.

Those with larger fingers may not like the new keyboard (again, I’ve been genetically engineered for gadget use = ie small fingers/hands).

Just a note though, the first 8830 I receieved had a defective pearl scroller and had to be replaced. However I may have damaged it when trying to pry open the battery cover. So be sure to watch what your pushing on when you remove that battery cover!!

Also, tethering or using the Phone As Modem is available w/the proper tethering/PAM data plan w/verizon. All you need to do this is the VZAccess Manager installed on your PC and a USB cable. I also have tested the BT Modem options and was able to get online w/my tablet pc via the 8830. I usually got about 700-900kbps connections w/the usb and bluetooth.

Design:

The 8830 is the prettiest Blackberry to date. The metal sides look good and the screen is very crisp. Prior to the 7100 and 8700 series, the screens on the older Blackberries were pretty washed out/dull. I personally like the new leather holster since it looks so much better than the plastic holster clips.

The phone also feels much better in your hand, slimmer and easy to grip. Overall, the 8830 is the sexiest Blackberry to date (minus its sibling the Pearl).

Phone Calls/Headsets:

An area that Blackberries seemed to score lower in has been in call quality and making calls w/the phone. Phone quality at times was great while at other times seemed to have static. So, the problem may not be my phone but the other end. Everyone I have called said that I sounded very clear. Also, I used my Bluetooth Headset w/it and had no problems pairing or using (Plantronics 510 Voyager). The sound on my headset was almost too loud at times but I’d rather have it being too loud than too quiet.

One big item to note though, the SIM Card is LOCKED to Vodafone/Verizon. However, you probably can pay to get it unlocked or even try to reason w/Verizon on getting the unlock code from them. Also, I have not been able to test the GSM part since we have not setup the Global dataplan yet. I may follow up after activating that plan since my parent’s farm is located out of Verizon’s network reach but in an area that GSM is available (EDGE data connectivity too).

Conclusion:

So, is this THE blackberry for all you crackberry addcits?

YES! If you are looking to upgrade your Blackberry and prefer the full qwerty keyboard, the 8830 is a good choice.

seamonkey says… 9.5/10

the only thing that really brought my score down is the defective/broken pearl scroller on my first unit (which may have been caused by my own doings) and hard to get off battery cover. The 8830 does everything any of my previous Blackberries does and adds some style and much wanted features. Call quality seemed to be good and on par w/previous Blackberries and Smartphones.

The 8830 retains all of the stability and superiority that it has become famous for and the fact that you can now be connected when out of the country or Verizon network area is much added bonus for those business travelers.

However, if you feel the need for a camera on the 8830, you should get what you want in a few months from now.

UPDATE 11/6/07:

So far, every one of my users that has gone to asia and europe have been able to get voice and data. however a few had to manually change the network connection to GSM but nonetheless they were fine once they did. so it appears this is the first BB from verizon to be global.

another note, after using for a few months, i realized i prefer the older 8700 styled keyboard. the Curve on tmobile and cingular has this keyboard and is now my favorite current blackberry (it also has wifi and a camera and is a tad bit lighter due to less metal used).

 

About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
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