Vodafone Blackberry 7100v review

Blackberry continues to do its own thing

TechRadar Verdict

If you can afford it and you're addicted to email, it's the perfect smartphone for you


  • +

    Exceptional email functionality

    Bluetooth compatibility

    Choice of tariffs


  • -

    Could be rather expensive

    Keyboard an acquired taste

    No Wi-Fi

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Even now, email remains the internet's killer application. So wouldn't it be rather compelling if you could receive it as soon as it's sent, just as quickly as you'd get an email at work or on broadband? We're email junkies ourselves. A few hours away from our mail results in nervousness about what we might have been sent. It's an addiction. One we need to feed.

Of course, business people with this addiction have long been able to get a fix of email on the go. The original Blackberry was conceived as a portable email machine with a miniature keyboard. However, it was nothing like a mobile phone - apart from the fact that it connected to a mobile network to send and receive data, of course.

But now Blackberry has realised that it can combine the compelling immediacy of its older products together inside a conventional mobile phone shell. The first result of this - at least for the UK market - is the 7100. This particular model is the 7100v and, in the obviously likely event you were wondering what the 'v' means, it stands for Vodafone. The 't' model will also be available by the time you read this and, rather unsurprisingly, that will be connected to T-Mobile.

Blackberry is undoubtedly the new cool; Palm, Symbian and Nokia have all said they will support Blackberry tech in future. Defying our early impression, the 7100v is an impressive smartphone - it looks and handles like a conventional mobile.

We had early reservations simply because we're great fans of the established smartphones such as the recently reviewed Sony-Ericsson P910i and the Microsoft Windows Mobile powered Orange SPV C500.

These players have learnt an awful lot since they first launched into the smartphone market and, while the 7100v is controlled by a easy-to-get-used-to selection button and jog wheel on the side of the device, it's true to say that we didn't get on with it quite as well as we did with Sony Ericsson's Symbian system or Windows Smartphone 2003. As you'd expect, the OS on the 7100v has also been skinned to look smart in Vodafone Live!-style livery.

One aspect of the phone that's not quite as intuitive is the keyboard. Yep, you're looking at it right, instead of a conventional phone keypad, the 7100v has a QWERTY keyboard by putting two-letters on a key.

Blackberry has obviously been beavering away on a new buzzword for this; SureType, which basically means that the company has thought at great length about where the keys should go. And, of course what to do if you need a ! or a £. Essentially only you know if you'd get on with it. But, it has to be said that it's typical of the innovation that Blackberry brings to a phone.

Feature-wise, the 7100v is a treat. Bluetooth is included, though Wi-Fi is lacking. The email function is brilliant. Business types can use fancy Exchange servers, but you can also set up a conventional email account. Simply choose an email address and it's associated with your handset in a minute or two via its IMEI number. No configuration is necessary and you can send and receive emails immediately. And, since it's permanently connected to your mail, you'll receive your mail in your pocket as soon as it's sent to you.

The handset price is dependent on tariff, in conventional mobile style, and includes a certain amount of email bandwidth.

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