The 8700g's most important feature is its push-email support. Emails are 'pushed' from your email account to your BlackBerry automatically, so you don't have to tell the device to check for new mail. The 8700g can access up to ten POP3 and IMAP4 email accounts and you can view any PDF, Word, PowerPoint or Excel attachments.
If you want to use the 8700g to read and reply to email stored on a company mail system, you'll have to talk to your IT administrator. They'll need to install the BlackBerry Enterprise Server software to give you access to messages stored on a Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino or Novell Groupwise server.
The BlackBerry 8700g has an Intel XScale processor, 64MB flash memory and 16MB SRAM. We found it quick and responsive, so you won't have any problem viewing emails if you're in a hurry. However, the Web browser does lag a little and at times the pages don't look right due to the difficulty of displaying Web sites on portable devices. You should also note that some email attachments lose their original formatting, so don't expect to see an exact copy of every document you receive.
The 8700g has EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Evolution) support, which means you can download data almost four times as fast as on a standard GPRS connection -- although Orange is currently the only network offering EDGE in the UK. The 8700g is a quad-band device, which means you can use it almost anywhere in the world. It also supports Bluetooth, which can be used to sync your BlackBerry with your PC or connect a Bluetooth headset, but for security reasons you can't send and receive files from other phones. It doesn't have infrared, but it does come with a USB cable to sync it with your desktop or transfer data from your phone to your PC and vice versa.
You can synchronise the 8700g's personal information manager with your PC to keep on top of your calendar, contacts, tasks and memos. The desktop software makes this fairly straightforward and we managed to sync our Outlook calendar and address book with the device with little trouble.
We found the phone menu easy to use and the new themed menu system makes a refreshing change to the original BlackBerry menu design. In the new layout, icons are set out on top of a wallpaper, which you can select -- so you can use a favourite photograph, for example. Although it's not an essential feature, it does make the device more stylish (or less, depending on your taste in wallpaper) and more user-friendly. There is also a built-in game called BrickBreaker, which is a fun version of the classic Breakout and makes good use of the scroll wheel. More games can be downloaded from the Internet.
Due to the business nature of BlackBerry handhelds, there is no camera or memory expansion slot. This prevents you from taking pictures of confidential documents, for instance, or inputting a memory card with a virus. On the downside, it also means that you can't take photos or use it to store your MP3s.
Audio on calls to the BlackBerry 8700g sounds a little muffled at times and isn't particularly loud, so you might have to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves if you're in a busy bar. The speakerphone works well, but again is not loud enough to be heard clearly in loud environments.
Battery life is around five to six days with normal usage, which is impressive, considering its GPRS connection is always on. T-Mobile quotes an impressive 16 days standby and 4 hours talk time. This means that you use the phone normally and not worry too much about the next recharge.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide