When rumors of the new Blackberry 7100t came out, my two partners-in-Blackberry-love kept saying that they would be getting it as soon as it came out. I pooh-poohed their enthusiasm– I was skeptical of the SureType predictive text software and the addition of a high-res screen wasn’t necessarily going to add that much value. The prospect of a better phone on the new device sounded pretty good, but to be honest, I used my Blackberry 7230 as a PDA much more than as a phone and I don’t even really talk for long periods on my cell phone as it is. And of course, it’s only been a little over a year since I’ve had my 7230 and even though I’m out of contract and could get a new phone, I hadn’t really gotten the full value of the $350 that I paid when I first got it (I bought it before it was being offered directly through T-Mobile).
But when T-Mobile, the exclusive dealer for the 7100t in the US, offered very attractive pricing– $199 after $100 rebate with new activation or one-year contract– and I took a look at my friend’s when he got it hours after T-Mobile started offering it, I was drawn in. I thought the new shape and slightly greater thickness would be too great of a footprint, but it wasn’t. The screen was just so bright and shiny (although I could live without the T-Mobile icons– I had to think a little too hard to figure out what some of them stood for). And the predictive text didn’t seem too bad, especially with my smaller fingers able to better use the reduced keyboard.
So, I gave in and went to the store the next day and got it (I would have gotten it that night if it was open). After about two hours with it, I am hooked. All the little things I loved about my old Blackberry are there and all the little things I wished were there with my old Blackberry are now here. As I used it more and kept going back to the manual to learn more tips and tricks, it kept hitting all the right spots in some glorious masturbatory overload. The new shape only adds to the higher quality phone, making it easier and more comfortable to talk (on the 7230, you had to put it up to your ear in just the right way so you could actually hear anything). The SureType software really is good and once I realized that the software predicts the right word/combination of letters depending on the sequence of key taps instead of just what the next letter should be, I could start typing more confidently, knowing that the software would use the right word. I’m almost back to my full typing speed on it now. There’s built-in Bluetooth support now which will be nice if and when I finally decide to get a Bluetooth support. Finally, there’s support for polyphonic ringtones and high-res background graphics– seemingly extraneous, but still lets Blackberry users enjoy all the “fun” eye and ear candy that comes with cell phones today. I’ve already switched my ringtone to Akon’s “Locked Up.” (Although, I don’t really want to pay 99 cents for each new ringtone– I’ve already paid 99 cents for the song on iTunes. Isn’t there some type of converter available? The entertainment industry is nickel and diming me to death.) And I’ll admit it– the high-res screen is just so pretty, especially once I changed to the default theme instead of T-Mobile’s quirky icons (I could hear circus music every time I looked at them).
Really, the only thing that’s missing is a camera, which I thought was a frivolous add-on to phones in the beginning, but with photoblogging taking off with cool services like Flickr, I would really like a camera phone. The only reason I could think of why RIM chose to leave a camera out was that they’re still appealing primarily (rightfully so) to corporate customers and a camera phone is still unclear territory in the corporate world. I hope RIM doesn’t come out with a follow up to the 7100t that has a phone too soon– $199 is a good price, but I still want to get a year’s worth of use out of it before I feel like I’m behind the curve. I would appreciate a camera attachment though– maybe taking advantage of the Bluetooth functionality? And certainly introduction of the camera as an attachment could assuage concerns by corporate customers.
In any case, the momentary thoughts I have every once in a while of getting a secondary phone for better phone functionality are now gone. And my initial misgivings about SureType and a reduced keyboard are also gone. The new Blackberry 7100t is basically the coolest thing ever.