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Old 10-01-2006, 12:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My In Depth Review: The BlackBerry 8703e For Verizon Wireless

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After playing around with my new 8703e for the past couple days I thought it'd be fun to write a full review on the device. Here's the result. The review is also on my site at In Depth Review: The BlackBerry 8703e For Verizon Wireless.
Recently I upgraded from my older, but classic, BlackBerry 7250 to the new BlackBerry 8703e. I had been waiting for an 8700 series CDMA BlackBerry for almost a year now and on September 15, 2006 the 8703e was officially released on Now, Iíve been using my trusty 7250 for over a year and have grown very fond of the device. Over time I became very familiar with it and all of its features and I felt like I knew it better than the back of my hand. So once I finally got the 8703e I was a little afraid to actually make the switch, but I had been hearing that it was a worthy upgrade, so I took my chances.

Let me start off by saying that I think the 8703e is incredibly sexy and sleek. RIM did a great job designing this phone. Some may say the new BlackBerry Pearl looks better, but I disagree. The 8703e looks great. Itís slightly smaller and lighter than the 7250, which makes it even more comfortable in my pocket. I think this is a huge factor when buying a cell phone and is often overlooked. If the thing is going to be in my pocket all day, I want it to be thin and light. I donít want to carry around a heavy cell phone that makes my pockets bulge.

Now the biggest issue I keep hearing about with the 8703e is that the keys are spaced a little closer together and that it takes some getting used to. When I first picked up the device I definitely agreed. The keys are now closer together and they donít feel like buttons anymore. It didnít take a few days to get used to, just a few hours.

The new screen on the 8703e is one of the most recognizable improvements over the 7250. Iíd say it blows away the old 7250 screen. Itís glossy and itís crisp. Games and photos all look so much nicer on the sharper 8700 series screen! The home screen looks much better with the improved screen as well. However, the ďVerizonĒ theme that comes as the default theme sucks, in my opinion, and makes the home screen look tacky. I decided to go with the standard ďBB Insight-IconĒ theme and I love it.

Not only is the new screen sharper but itís also brighter. The new auto backlight feature is nice as it seems to adjust for different lighting conditions. I donít understand why it keeps going to all black though after 30 seconds. I think it should still stay somewhat lit up. Itís probably a power saving feature for the battery. Once you touch a key or use the scroll wheel it lights right back up though, which is so much better than having to hit the backlight button in the dark all the time on the 7250.

The addition of dedicated ďSendĒ and ďEndĒ buttons for making calls is a welcomed addition to the 8703e! I still find myself going for the scroll wheel to end a call, but Iím slowly getting adjusted. Itís much more convenient having these dedicated buttons on the front.

The last thing I thought the 7250 was lacking for convenience (besides GPS support from TeleNav which is a whole different issue) was a speakerphone. The 7520 for Nextel had a speakerphone but it made the phone seem a lot bulkier. The 8703e, along with the rest of the 8700 series, was done right and the speakerphone component doesnít make the phone any deeper or bigger than it needs to be. It sounds loud and people have said they can hear me good when I tested it out.

Another new addition to the 8703e is the ability to do MP3 ringtones now which is a nice feature. It is 2006 after all. However after listening to all the standard ringtones on the phone I was disappointed. Personally I think a lot of the ringtones suck and I actually miss the classic ringtones from the 7250! I quickly added the classic ďCTUĒ ringtone from Foxís hit show 24, as my default ringtone, which kind of makes up for the loss of the old ringtones, for now anyways.

The new built in web browser application is a nice update from the one on my 7250. It seems to load pages faster even when Iím not in an EVDO area and pictures are much easier to view. Now, I know this is going to sound stupid, but I think itís worth mentioning quickly. actually works on the new BlackBerry 8703e. On my 7250 it only partially worked because once you were logged in you would get errors whenever you tried to visit any links. If youíre a serious MySpace addict then I guess you can have your cake and eat it too with the 8703e. Itís nice to know that more websites are actually working properly with this newest version of the BlackBerry web browser though. Too bad still wonít work properly.

My favorite feature of the 8703e is that itís got EVDO built in and itís activated from the start! My 7250 was EVDO compliant, but it needed a bunch of software updates to get it activated, so I never bothered with it. Now when I travel to major cities Iíll be able to download emails and browse the web at EVDO speeds! Also, I added the USB tethering option to my plan so I can connect my BlackBerry to my laptop and use it as an EVDO modem to get online! It also works in areas that donít have EVDO yet, using the slower 1xRTT technology, which is about as fast as dial up. But hey, itís better than nothing when you really need it! Verizon Wireless is also doing a good job upgrading to EVDO in lots of areas now so I expect to be able to get EVDO almost everywhere I travel to frequently.

So what DONíT I like about the 8703e? Well, a few things, because Iím so used to my 7250. First off, RIM removed the left and right buttons which helped you scroll left or right through text. I didnít know where the hell the buttons went at first but then I read that I had to use the ALT key in conjunction with the scroll wheel. Also, thereís a dedicated dollar sign key now, which wasnít on the 7250. I still find myself using the SYM (symbol) key + Z for dollar signs, but I guess Iíll get used to this.

It would also be nice if there was a built in camera on the 8700 series phones but there isnít. To me itís not a big deal, but if it was there itíd be cool. Also the lack of video support is a little bit of a disappointment after seeing some of the Windows Mobile OS devices play video surprisingly well. But BlackBerryís donít run Microsoftís OS, so itís just not something to expect. A BlackBerry Media Player on par with Windows Media Player would be awesome though.

My biggest issue with the new device, isnít even really with the device, itís actually a Verizon Wireless (or RIM?) issue with the new BlackBerry Internet Service 2.0, which handles my emails. With my 7250 and the old 1.x system, HTML emails from PayPal would display properly, but with the 2.0 service the HTML isnít rendered! Instead all the code is displayed, making a relatively short email from PayPal about 5 screens longs now! I asked around and apparently this was done as a countermeasure to prevent people falling for phishing emails. Great. Idiots who fall for phishes are actually inconveniencing me now.

So what do I think of my new gadget? Overall, Iím extremely happy with my upgrade. RIM did an awesome job on the new 8700 series. I give the new BlackBerry 8703e two thumbs up! If youíre looking for a score from 1 to 10 then Iíll give it a 9.5. If I could get GPS driving directions I would look past the crappy ringtones, lack of a camera, and the slight differences from the 7250, and give it a 10. At $250 with a two year contract, itís not the most expensive phone in its class either.

If thereís anything I didnít cover that youíre wondering about feel free to post a comment and Iíll do my best to get back to you! Oh and if you liked the review, Digg it.
Old 11-09-2006, 10:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice review, picked up a few things as a new 8703 owner.

Old 11-12-2006, 01:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Great review, I never had a BB before and this is very new to me, one question how did you get the new ringtone on your BB I have read the other threads and tried but can't figure it out. Could you give me a step by step directions on how to do this.

Thanks so much

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