It's easy to scroll through these messages, and the device will even open some types of attachment (notably JPEG images – which look great on that screen – and the text of Word documents). Embedded hyperlinks (Web or email addresses) are active,while phone numbers are highlighted for phoning or texting at a click of the thumbwheel.
It's also possible to forward emails as text messages – and vice versa. The comprehensive PC-synchronisable address book is restricted only by the phone's 64MB flash-memory (there's, alas, no card slot for expansion). Each entry will store a vast range of information including job title, five phone numbers, fax, email/postal addresses, homepage and even personal notes.
Adding address book-derived email address and phone numbers to outgoing messages and emails is straightforward.
It's also possible to attach files (such as documents created with various third-party applications available for purchase on-line) to emails, or save attachments buried in incoming emails.
Another communication service available on the 8700g is BlackBerry Messenger,which has its own menu icon. But this has nothing to do with internet-based chat programs like ICQ and Windows Messenger.
Instead, it's dedicated to RIM's proprietary 'PIN messaging', which allows you to communicate quickly with other BlackBerry users on the network (making this possible is the fact that every device has a unique PIN, hence the name).
Thanks to a 312MHz Intel PXA901 processor that's faster than what's come before, plus 16MB of RAM, the 8700g fairly whizzes along when its carryin out its assigned tasks. The BlackBerry browser handles both secure WAP and websites, and allows you to define bookmarks for quick access to often-visited sites.
Web pages look surprisingly good and appear fairly quickly, although multiple frames have to be loaded separately.
Other features of note? There's a fully-blown (and PC-synchronisable) appointment-scheduler, alarm clock, the ability to turn off the mobile phone section (great for aircraft use), picture viewer, calculator and a comprehensive search-engine that will examine the entire phone memory for a particular text-pattern or filename.
Only one game (the addictive Breakout-like BrickBreaker) is offered, although others can be added courtesy of Java.
The messaging facilities of the 8700g are simply superb. We did find that it took longer for outgoing messages to arrive in the recipient's mail box than it did to receive incoming messages, but that might have been down to network congestion.
WAP and websites were also handled very nicely. As a phone, the 8700g was also found to work well. Call-quality on both sides leaves little room for complaint in terms of clarity, while the hands-free speakerphone is capable of surprisingly-high levels of intelligible sound.
According to the manufacturer's specification, the 8700g's lithium-ion battery will deliver up to 16 days in standby or 4 hours of talk. Our experience falls somewhat short of this claim – from a single charge, we squeezed five days in standby, a handful of text messages, plenty of email activity and just over 20 minutes of calls.
The 8700g's radio then shut off due to low energy reserves, but there was sufficient power for seven further hours of PDA-only functionality!
In all, though, there's little around to touch the BlackBerry as far as mobile messaging is concerned – an opinion merely reinforced by this latest addition to the family.
The BlackBerry 8700g came with a number of features that we now take for granted with modern smartphones, and which at the time was often dismissed as too business orientated.
These days we don't think twice about using our phones to send emails and instant messages, and the BlackBerry 8700g's easy method of adding email accounts – without you having to know your POP3 from your SMTP – was revolutionary for the time.
The ability to turn off the phone features of the handset was also noteworthy back then, but nowadays every smartphone comes with a flight mode that lets you continue using the handset when on an aeroplane.
The 8700g's ability to shut off power hungry components is a precursor to the battery-saving features of many smartphones these days as well – if only our handsets could still last five days on a single charge.
The BlackBerry 8700g didn't get everything right, with the lack of a camera showing that it still considered itself an enterprise phone, rather than one aimed at mainstream consumers. Nevertheless, it scored a respectable 85% in issue 141 of Total Mobile.
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