The BlackBerry 8700g is T-Mobile's latest addition to its range of email handhelds. This is a strong offering that features stylish looks and a bright screen perfect for viewing attachments like Word documents. We found the keypad too small to use comfortably, however.
Our review model was from T-Mobile and you can get it free with a £56.25 monthly contract, or for £180 if you pay £15 per month, plus a number of options in between (and various special offers). You can also get versions of this phone on Orange, O2 and Vodafone contracts.Design
The 8700g is essentially a handheld organiser with some mobile phone functionality. While it's not as mobile phone-like as the BlackBerry 7100x, it does sit comfortably in the hand and has green and red call and reject keys, as well as a Qwerty keypad. It weighs 134g and measures 70 by 110 by 20mm, which makes it the shortest BlackBerry device available. Our T-Mobile handset came in blue (does this make it a BlueBerry?), but the device is also available in black and silver on other networks.
The power button on the top left of the 8700g not only turns the device on and off but also adjusts the brightness of the screen -- press it quickly to cycle through the off, dim and bright screen settings. On the opposite side is a silence call button that's useful if you need to turn off the ringer quickly before a meeting.
The front section of the handset houses the 320x240-pixel colour display, which is not only the brightest screen we have ever seen on a BlackBerry device, but also uses a new light-sensing technology. Depending on the level of surrounding light, the screen will automatically adjust its brightness. Admittedly, the difference in brightness levels is slight and we barely noticed any change -- but maybe that's the point. Once the screen powers down, it completely blacks out. This means you have to reactivate the screen to check for messages, unlike the older 7290, where the screen dimmed but didn't turn off completely.
Surrounding the screen is a silver frame with a notification LED in the top right corner that flashes different colours depending on what the phone is doing. Underneath the screen is a green accept call key, a programmable soft key and a red reject call key. These are relatively new keys on a BlackBerry, and make it easier to use as a mobile phone.
Unlike most mobile phones, the 8700g has a 35-key Qwerty keypad that fits neatly at the bottom half of the front of the phone. Pressing the ALT, NUM and SYM keys enables you to enter numbers, punctuation and symbols. That said, we found the keypad too small to use comfortably. Compared to the older BlackBerry 7290 or the Palm Treo 650, the keys are flatter and closer together, making it harder to distinguish between them.
On the left side of the handheld is the headphone jack, the USB port for charging the phone or syncing it with your PC and a programmable soft key. On the right is the standard trackwheel that lets you scroll through menus and adjust the volume during calls. The trackwheel is very easy to use and much more efficient than using up and down buttons for scrolling.
Below the trackwheel is an escape button to exit a screen, cancel an action, or go back one page in the browser. If you look around the back section of the handheld, you'll find a silver speaker that plays your polyphonic ring tones and provides the speakerphone function. It also has vibrating alert for those times when you don't want the phone to be heard at all.