BlackBerry Pearl vs. HTC Touch

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After dumping my Palm Treo 700w, which I had used during my previous 2-year contract with Verizon Wireless, I’ve moved onto bigger (or smaller?) and better things. The two phones that I’m using now are the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 (when I’m USA) and the HTC Touch P3450 (during my visits to China). To get an idea of the relative sizes of the two phones, the above picture shows that the Touch is slightly wider than the Pearl, but the Pearl is a little longer than the Touch. In terms of thickness, the two phones are about the same, but since I use a silicon rubber case on my Pearl, it is slightly thicker.

I’m using the BlackBerry Pearl through Verizon Wireless. I’ve signed up for another 2-year agreement with an unlimited data plan. I originally had planned on getting the BlackBerry 8830 World Phone, but you can read my troubles in this past post. I even thought of getting the iPhone. I don’t even get me started on that rant again! 😡

Anyways, I use the Pearl primarily when I’m in the USA. Since the Pearl is a CDMA phone, I still can use this phone in China, because there are some CDMA networks there. However, I will pay $0.60/minute for each sent/received call. Amazingly, the $0.60/minute is the same price if I make/receive calls from USA while I’m in China.

If you are interested, you can click here to view the BlackBerry Pearl specifications. For your reading pleasure, you can also go to My Files section to also download a copy of the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 User Manual. Enjoy!

As an alternative, I use the HTC Touch when I’m in China. This is a GSM phone with a SIM card slot. I use a China Mobile SIM card, so calls I make/receive within China are very cheap. Keep in mind, this is NOT the HTC Touch that is available from Sprint. I was actually able to get an unlocked version of the HTC Touch from a mobile phone store in Hong Kong. Click here to view the HTC Touch specifications. You can also browse the HTC Touch P3450 User Manual.

After using the Pearl and Touch for about 1 month, here are my initial observations:

BlackBerry Pearl Pro’s:

  • Smaller form factor. Compared to my old Treo, this phone is tiny. Don’t be fooled though – the Pearl is still big enough to handle like a slim candy-bar phone and a smartphone.
  • BlackBerry OS. This OS very intuitive to use. This is my first BlackBerry phone and the user interface is so much better than Windows Mobile. Also, the learning curve is not as steep as compared to Windows Mobile.
  • SureType input method. It took some getting used to, but after a few e-mails and SMS messages, I had no problems. I actually think this is more efficient than having a full QWERTY keypad. Basically, this typing technology will predict the words you type as you type each letter. There is still the option of using the Multi-tap input method, which you can use as you familiarize yourself with SureType.
  • Larger key buttons. However, the phone is still slimmer than those that have the full QWERTY keypad.
  • Push e-mail. Account setup is a snap, compared to the setup on Windows Mobile 6. Also, you can automatically check up to 10 POP e-mail accounts. Why would you need that many?
  • 2MP camera with video capture. It is includes flash capabilities, to make sharper pics in dimly lit areas.
  • Smooth trackball navigation. This is great since you can navigate using either hand. On older BB’s that have the click-wheel, you can only use your right hand to navigate.
  • Clear calls. They are loud and crisp, even when using the hands-free speaker phone.
  • GPS. However, to fully use this feature, you need to subscribe to Verizon Wireless’ Navigator service.
  • Tethering. You can use this phone as a “modem” and connect your laptop to the internet. However, you need to subscribe to Verizon Wireless’ BroadAccess Connect Service.

BlackBerry Pearl Con’s:

  • Battery cover loose. This is definitely a design flaw, but I’ve heard this is typical of BlackBerry designs.
  • Flimsy microSD slot cover. The rubber tie holding the slot cover to the phone will break after frequent openings and closings. 😥
  • Web browser. This is just a standard browser that does not show true HTML websites as they actually are. As an alternative, I use the OperaMini browser.
  • 3.5mm socket for headset. I’m not really sure why they didn’t use the more standard and smaller 2.5mm socket, since this phone is so thin.
  • No Wi-Fi. However, Verizon Wireless’ EV-DO is fast enough for me and it is readily available.
  • Trackball navigation. Scrolling through long e-mails can be a pain. I wish there was a Page Up or Page Down function.
  • Background noise. There is a distinctive background hissing noise that can get annoying, but this only occurs on some calls.
  • E-mail format. Doesn’t display HTML e-mails well, so you need to go through all the confusing HTML code to find the real content of your message.
  • No CAPS lock. Basically, you need to hold the CAPS button down for each letter you want to capitalize.
  • Volume adjustment. Incoming calls seem overly loud, even at the lowest setting, especially when I’m using the headset.

HTC Touch Pro’s:

  • Wi-Fi capable. This is fine when I’m near a access point or hot-spot, like in my hotel, but anywhere else in China? Good luck finding one.
  • TouchFLO interface. This user interface allows you to use your finger to get to your most used shortcuts.  However, don’t be misled into thinking that this touch interface is similar to the iPhone touch interface.  Basically, you use the TouchFLO to page through the different 3D screens of your frequently used shortcuts and applications.  However, once inside those applications, the TouchFLO doesn’t work.  For example, there is no way to “zoom” a website in Windows Mobile IE.  On the iPhone, the “zoom” is accomplished by squeezing or expanding your thumb and forefinger together.
  • Good applications. It is a breeze to handle your Notes, Tasks, Appointments, and Address Book organization.
  • Well constructed. For a small PDA phone, it’s as sturdy as it can get.

HTC Touch Con’s:

  • Windows Mobile 6.
  • Windows Mobile 6.
  • Windows Mobile 6. Seeing a trend? Going from Version 5 to Version 6 was not a dramatic upgrade in Windows Mobile. I really feel that today’s phones, no matter how advanced they are, are not ready for the Windows Mobile. I’m sure WM will get better with age, but as of now, avoid it like the plaque. Furthermore, Windows Mobile seems to minimize the effectiveness of using your smartphone as an actual phone! I wonder why?
  • No QWERTY keyboard. You are limited to using the on-screen keyboard and typing with the stylus, or using the hand-writing recognition software, which isn’t really that accurate.
  • Really small cover for the SIM Card and microSD card slots. Even though it is great that you don’t need to remove the battery to swap out the SIM Card and microSD card, you will definitely need a long fingernail or paper clip to insert these into the phone’s side panel. Furthermore, you will still need to remove the back cover in order to open the side cover to access the two slots.
  • No headphone jack. You need to use headphones that have a mini USB connector.
  • Blurry pictures. As long as you have a steady hand, you can avoid this, but the strange thing is that you need to hold the camera phone steady for about 1 to 2 secs AFTER you hear the shutter sound. Strange.
  • Limited choices of ringtones. Basically, if you want more ringtones, you’ll have to buy them.
  • Web browser. Mobile Internet Explorer is still lacking. Again, I use the OperaMini web browser.
  • Limited customization. You are left with buying third-party applications.
  • Alarm clock. Sometimes it may or may not work at the time you set. Also, there are limited choices for Alarm ringers.

As an overall grade (5 Stars being best), I would give the BlackBerry Pearl 4.5 Stars and I would give the HTC Touch 2.5 Stars.

2 Responses to “BlackBerry Pearl vs. HTC Touch”

  1. golfer Says:

    I took the dive and got myself the Pearl from Verizon. I must agree – this is the best smartphone that I’ve ever had!

  2. Max Says:

    Hi – just wanted to say good design and blog – cu

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