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BlackBerry Pearl 8110 review

Does adding GPS to RIM's Pearl 8110 make it an iPhone killer?

BlackBerry Pearl 8110
The 'pearl' rollerball is a great navigation tool, but the two-letters-to-a-button keyboard

Our Verdict

A solid GPS solution, but that’s the only reason to pick it over Apple’s more polished iPhone.


  • Solid GPS solution
  • Packed with features
  • Beloved by systems admins


  • Software subscription needed for GPS
  • No help given to Mac users
  • Not a joy to use

Sure, the iPhone's great, but there's a lot it can't do. And despite the clever use of cellphone mast and WiFi triangulation, one of the most important iPhone omissions is proper GPS.

It's the same idea as your in-car GPS: a system of satellites orbits the Earth, and using the information from four or more of these, a precise fix can be determined.

Surprisingly, however, even though the hardware itself has support for true GPS, there's no software on the BlackBerry Pearl 8110 to make any use of it. A 14-day trial for Telmap Navigator comes in the box, and it was this that we used to test it.

Tough to set up

Getting set up was an exercise in frustration. The Telmap site refused to download the correct version for our phone, and even when we got the software finally installed, it kept refusing to pinpoint our location.

A couple of phone calls later and we discovered that by manually giving it a rough location first - even a town name would do - it would work perfectly well. Indeed, when plotting routes you're given the option of a walking route - top-down, 2D map with route but no automatic turn by turn instructions - or a driving route that does the traditional 3D navigation with spoken prompts; maps are downloaded as required from the internet.

In truth, it's a feature-rich, precise system, but it lacks refinement. Worse, an annual subscription to UK maps costs £40; worldwide it's £70, which is good value compared to some other GPS systems, though the charges there are usually one-offs.

A competent smartphone

Elsewhere, it's a competent if sometimes frustrating smartphone. You can't fault a BlackBerry for lacking features; it's just that its inelegant interface often makes tasks needlessly complex.

There's no help for Mac users given either, and though PocketMac is licensed by RIM for syncing contacts, calendars and more for Mac users, it's a bit flaky and is in any case not promoted as a solution.