The Blackberry Pearl 3G is a candybar-type phone aimed at first time smartphone users. It has the same processing power as the Bold 9700, has Wi-Fi 802.11n built-in, and has dedicated media keys to keep you entertained while on the go.

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The Pearl 3G has a 20-key condensed QWERTY keyboard, an optical trackpad that makes navigation easier, and a 360×400 display. It measures 108mm x 50 mm x 13.3 mm and weighs 93g, which fits easily inside a pocket. The handset feels solid, with the side and top buttons looking like they are integrated into the unit.

A 3.2-megapixel camera with flash is located at the back of the unit, while three dedicated media keys (Play, Previous, and Next) are located on top of the unit. Those who want to use their favourite headphones to listen to their favourite tracks are in luck – the Pearl 3G comes with a 3.5mm jack. The 9100 can also store up to 32GB of data via its microSD/SDHD slot.

Those unfamiliar with Blackberry phones can go through the tutorial in order to get to know some of the unit functions. A user can also set up their e-mail accounts, connect to a Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth device, import SIM card settings, and arrange fonts. Perhaps the hardest part is getting used to a 20-key condensed QWERTY keypad, especially if you used to have a phone with a full QWERTY or standard numeric keypad. Although the SureType software can complete words accurately, a user must make sure that the right keys are pressed.

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As the review unit we got was from Telstra, it had a dedicated application for My Place. This application displays various Telstra services including Mobile Foxtel, BigPond Home, Yellow Pages, White Pages, WhereIs Maps, BigPond News, BigPond Apps, Music, Downloads, My Account, and Social Web.

Other applications include Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Maps, Quick Search with Google, Instant Messaging applications (ICQ, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, AIM, and BlackBerry Messenger), and other productivity applications. E-mails can also be pushed to the handset and setting is up is quick and straightforward.

Browsing through the menus and switching through applications was fast, thanks to its 624MHz processor. The optical trackpad makes navigation a whole lot easier, while the play button automatically brings you to the Media folder.

The Pearl 3G 9100 can play video files saved in MPEG4 Simple and Advance Simple Profile, H.263, H.264, and WMV3 format as well as audio files saved in MP3, AMR-NB, AAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMV, Flac, and Ogg Vorbis.

The Pearl 3G also comes with 802.11n wireless built-in, providing users with fast data transfer. Bluetooth 2.1 is also onboard and supports A2DP. The battery lasted for a day and a half during our test, with us checking e-mails, sending text messages, checking Facebook, and chatting via Yahoo Messenger moderately.

The Pearl 3G may not have a full QWERTY keypad and big screen that its Bold counterpart has, but it is able to provide users with a full BlackBerry experience. As of this time of writing, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G is only available to Telstra customers for $0 upfront on a Blackberry $59 Cap for 24 months. It can also be purchased outright from Telstra for $679.


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