Vonage Business
Unlimited calling with no contracts for businesses
Reliable & Secure Business Phone Systems
Cloud Phone Service. Built for Business.

Unlimited calls to US & Canada, no contract
2 months free promotion
Zero activation fee and free hardware

BlackBerry Phone Reviews
BlackBerry Pearl Flip: Full Review

Wirefly Learn » BlackBerry Phones » BlackBerry Phone Reviews

July 16th, 2009


By Ari Driessen
Follow Ari on Twitter

If it looks like a BlackBerry and smells like a BlackBerry, chances are it’s a BlackBerry.  But the BlackBerry Pearl Flip arguably doesn’t look or smell anything like a traditional BlackBerry.  While the Pearl Flip has all the functionality of its candy bar siblings, its clamshell design makes it a unique addition to the BlackBerry family that some may find a desirable alternative to the norm.

Look and Feel

From afar, the BlackBerry Pearl Flip looks more or less like your run-of-the-mill camera-toting flip phone.  On closer inspection, however, the prominent BlackBerry logos on front and back hint that this flip phone may be packing more than meets the eye.  The device is available in either red or black.

At 3.9 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide when closed, and about .7 inches thick, the Pearl Flip isn’t the smallest clamshell design the world has ever seen but still will fit comfortably in a pocket or purse.   The Pearl Flip weighs in at 3.6 ounces, with the bottom composed of a faux brushed metal and the top part of the device a shiny black plastic.

When closed, the front of the device is graced by a 1.6 inch 128×160 resolution, 65k color display.  The external screen indicates battery life, signal strength, time and date, caller ID, and notifications of new email messages, texts, voicemail, and missed calls.  When not illuminated, the external screen blends with the Flip’s black front.  The front is also home to a 2 megapixel camera with flash, as well as the traditional blinking BlackBerry status indicator.

Flipping the phone open reveals a 2.2 inch, 240×320 resolution, internal display set in a sleek silver frame.  While considerably smaller than its candy car brethren, the Pearl Flip’s screen offers ample space for reading emails but may frustrate frequent web browsers. Opened, the Pearl Flip is somewhat lanky, but feels good in the palm of the hand.

Not surprisingly, the internal keyboard closely resembles the Pearl’s SureType keyboard.  RIM’s SureType technology, as it’s called, allows two letters (and a number) to be assigned to each button and offers a list of possible words and letter combinations as you type.  The layout of the keys resembles that of a traditional telephone keypad.  To be sure, SureType will take some getting used to.  You may learn to love it, or you may find yourself desperately longing for your full QWERTY keyboard.

On the left of the device is a mute button, standard 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB port for charging and synching, and an app launcher key defaulted to voice commands.  On the right of the phone is a volume rocker, microSD card slot for up to 16GB of additional storage space, and another app launcher key defaulted to the camera.

BlackBerry Pearl FlipBlackBerry Pearl Flip

User Interface & Performance

The Pearl Flip is running Blackberry OS 4.6.  OS 4.6 offers a big step up in aesthetics, replacing the aging icons and interface of previous OS’s with sharp, semi-transparent icons that glow brightly when scrolled over.  Sure, beauty is skin deep, but the facelift made a world of difference in the feel of the device.  The Pearl Flip uses the traditional BlackBerry trackball for navigation – though it’s set into the phone slightly so it can flip closed.

Unfortunately, it’s sometimes apparent that the Pearl Flip isn’t packing the same power under the hood as some of its contemporaries.  I experienced some hang-ups and sluggishness when opening and switching applications.

BlackBerry Pearl FlipBlackBerry Pearl Flip



The Pearl Flip may not look like other RIM smartphones, but successfully delivers the same messaging might that BlackBerry is known for.  Of course, the RIM flip phone offers support for enterprise email solutions including Microsoft Exchange, Novell GroupWise, and IBM Lotus Domino.

The device can also support up to 10 additional email accounts, including POP and IMAP accounts.  I was able to effortlessly add my Gmail account to the Pearl Flip.  I just entered my user name and password, and my Gmail was soon being pushed to the device.  You can also view and edit Word, PowerPoint, and Excel attachments.

The Pearl Flip also supports instant messaging, with six pre-installed messaging clients including Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, and of course BlackBerry Messenger.

Because there’s a SureType keyboard instead of a full QWERTY, the BlackBerry Flip is likely not a great choice for users wanting to frequently send lengthy emails.  It is, however, a great choice for being able to reliably stay up on emails on-the-go without taking up too much space.

BlackBerry Pearl FlipBlackBerry Pearl Flip

Web Browsing

The Pearl Flip is equipped with a full HTML browser. While the small screen size sometimes makes browsing cumbersome, the overall experience is pretty positive, particularly for a clamshell device. Navigation is achieved using an on-screen cursor that is used to zoom in, move around, and select links. A “GoTo” window is used to jump to a new web page and search, with built-in search functionality for Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Dictionary.com.

Media & Entertainment

The Pearl Flip’s media player supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA , MIDI and AMR-NB audio formats, as well as MPEG4 and WMV video formats. The phone has 128MB of memory built-in, and is expandable with support for up to a 16GB microSD card for plenty of space for music and video. You can sync the Pearl Flip with your iTunes music library, or add music directly to the phone. Expect the usual options, including playlists, shuffle and repeat modes, album art, and search functionality. Conveniently enough, you can also jump back to the media player from any menu when a song is playing.


Picture Quality on the Pearl Flip is acceptable for a quick memory.  The device’s camera is 2 megapixels, with a flash, 5x zoom and limited amount of settings.  Images sometimes weren’t very sharp in conditions with lower light, even when taken with a steady hand.   Colors were pretty well-defined for the most part, but direct sunlight tended to wash out brighter colors.  Video quality was mediocre, with frames appearing dull and pixilated.

BlackBerry Pearl Flip

Image taken with the Pearl Flip Image taken with the Pearl Flip Image taken with the Pearl Flip

Wireless & GPS

There are relatively few flip phones that can boast WiFi, and the Pearl Flip is one of them.  Unfortunately, however, the Flip’s WiFi doesn’t fully make up for the fact that the device lacks 3G support.  The Pearl Flip is equipped with Bluetooth v2.0, with support for headset (mono and stereo), hands-free, and serial port profiles.  There’s also no built-in GPS on the Flip.


The Flip features T-Mobiles MyFaves feature on the home screen which gives you unlimited calling to 5 pre-selected favorites. The device also has a speakerphone, voice dialing, memo pad, tasks list, calculator, and voice notes recorder. Pre-installed games include BrickBreaker, Word Mole, Texas Hold’Em King 2, Sudoku, Klondike, and Trooper Typing. The Pearl Flip is also compatible with BlackBerry’s App World, making thousands of applications available for download for the device.

The Bottom Line

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip is a device that some people will love and some people will perhaps love to hate.  Power BlackBerry users may be frustrated by the SureType keyboard, lack of 3G and GPS, and occasional sluggishness.  Yet, flip phone devotees who have resisted jumping on board the BlackBerry bandwagon will welcome having the messaging power of a BlackBerry, full HTML browser, and WiFi just a flip away.

Buy this phone now!

Shop Now for Phones from AT&T Wirelesss, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

Related posts:

  1. BlackBerry Tour Review: Full Review of the new 9630
  2. BlackBerry Storm 2: Full Video Review
  3. Blackberry Pearl 8130 Manual
  4. BlackBerry Storm: Full Review

7 Responses to “BlackBerry Pearl Flip: Full Review”

  • Donald Moran
    July 19, 2012

    I have two Blackberry Flip 8220, but I cant seem to keepthem charged. I have replaced the batteries, switched batteries, I have tried everything I can think of. With the lack of customer service from RIM , and believe me there is none I am ready to try an entirely different phone and not one manufactured by RIM.

  • nose job
    May 27, 2011

    Compared to the old Pearl, it differs from the two methods in the navigation area: recessed trackball and buttons almost completely flush. The phone actually looks pretty good .

    • Katarzyna
      March 14, 2012

      If the outside of the phone looks alectxy the same as your last one its probably the same phone. However the most likely reason the phone layout and everything looks different is because the software is newer or older than the one you had before. You can update to the newest software if you hook your curve up to your computer and using desktop manager you can update it. Just click application loader, and then update device software and let it do its thing. hope this helps!!ps- dnt unplug or interuppt your blackberry while the software is being downloaded, it will nuke your phone and left it completly unusable!

  • nosejobguides
    May 27, 2011

    Compared to the old Pearl, it differs from the two methods in the navigation area: recessed trackball and buttons almost completely flush. The phone actually looks pretty good.

  • rifyraina
    June 30, 2010

    I really like this.
    I was a pretty, um, harsh critic of the Pearl Flip’s design as photos of it leaked out. Turns out, it is the most design-challenged phone in RIM’s new lineup, but for a different reason than I suspected. It’s like each half of the phone comes from a wildly different gene pool.


  • I picked the blackberry pearl flip up from gsmallover.com. they have a great price for it and great service, but even better the phone rocks. i used to have a razor so i really like flip phones and was really excited when they came out with this cell phone. i’ve had it for quite a while now and still don’t have any complaints about it.

Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan
on Facebook.
Follow Wirefly on Twitter Follow Wirefly
on Twitter.
Discover Wirefly on YouTube Discover Wirefly
on YouTube.
Discover Wirefly on YouTube