After months of rumors, speculations, and blurry pictures, the BlackBerry Style (9670) is finally out. It's available on Sprint for $99.99 after mail-in rebate, and is the second device to launch with RIM's new BlackBerry 6 operating system. Overall, the Style looks good - it's made up of plastic with chrome accents around the hinge and the keyboard. It may be a tad too short and fat for some, but all things considered, it's a huge improvement over the BlackBerry Pearl Flip.
I've been using the Style for a few days, and here's what I've found thus far:
- The Style offers a 2.7-inch display, and while small, it works given the clamshell form factor. I'm assuming it's due to the smaller size, but the screen on the Style is very nice. As with the Pearl Flip, you can view your instant messaging and text notifications on the external display. It's very useful, and nice to have a QWERTY-equipped device that I can slide into my pocket without worrying about pocket dialing.
- Style has a 624 MHz processor, which is what the Torch and Bold 9700 have. It's decent, though I noticed a slight lag here and there when using the phone.
- I'm liking the form factor, but that's probably because I'm in this whole "wow, it's not another candybar touchscreen device!" phase. It's something different, and that's cool.
- It's packing BlackBerry 6, RIM's newest operating system. It's definitely an improvement over OS 5.0, but they still have work to do to make it competitive. At $99.99, people are going to be pitting the Style against the Samsung Intercept, Transform, and Palm Pre, and when comparing OS to OS, Android and webOS run circles around BlackBerry 6. Unless you need BlackBerry Messenger.
- Existing BlackBerry users will be frustrated with the Style's QWERTY keyboard, as it's a bit cramped due to the size of the phone. I've been working with the phone all afternoon, and I'm still trying to adjust to it. The keys, while tactile, are extremely narrow. It's a nice alternative to SureType, and I think it'll appeal to additional demographics as a result.
- The WebKit browser is an improvement over past BlackBerry browsers, but there's still quite a bit of work that needs to be done before it is able to compete with Android and iOS. A lot of it boils down to form factor, too - simply put, browsing on a touchscreen like the Torch is better than browsing on a clamshell devicve like the Style. It also suffers from the "checkerboard" issue that the Torch had at launch.
- The 5.0-megapixel camera has impressed me. BlackBerry devices aren't known to have phenomenal cameras, but the Style's took decent pictures. It doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone 4, Nokia N8, or some of the 8.0-megapixel Android devices out there, but it's good for a quick shot here and there. The camera is located on the bottom half of the device, so you have to hold the phone at an awkward position to take pictures.
- Call quality has been great thus far. Both the earpiece and the speakerphone are nice and loud, and my callers have reported favorable results.
- Battery life has been good, though it's not as strong as GSM BlackBerrys like the Torch and the Pearl 3G. With moderate use, I've been able to get about a day and a half out of it.
- Style is an EVDO Rev. A device, so overall data speeds have been good this afternoon. Data-centric apps load quickly, and entertainment stuff like Sprint TV works without a hitch.