New phone is more miss than hit

New phone is more miss than hit

There's plenty to like about the BlackBerry 7130e, especially its roomy screen, compatibility with multiple email clients and broadband-level data connections. Unfortunately, this standard mobile phone also has some major flaws, especially when it comes to making calls.

Unlike most BlackBerry models, the 7100 series lacks a QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing messages far more difficult. Instead, you get alphanumeric keys and RIM's SureType word recognition software, which completes words based on the first few letters you've typed. The phone was a pleasure to use for Web browsin and the big screen is bright enough to make viewing pages comfortable.

An extremely responsive scroll wheel on the right panel that makes menu navigation a piece of cake. Overall, however, the keys on the 7130e are very stiff and the handset cover felt a bit flimsy.

For phone calls, the handset is awkwardly bulky and unpleasant to hold. In my tests it delivered poor reception on calls.

Talk-time battery life was another weak spot: The 7130e lasted only 4 hours, 27 minutes in our tests. The 7310e lacks a camera, as well.

If you want a BlackBerry and can live without broadband speed, consider choosing a different model, such as the 8700c or the 7250. The 7130e is too pricey for its mediocre call performance.

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