• Price: depends on contract

  • Company: RIM (BlackBerry)

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

RIM’s sleek-looking BlackBerry Pearl has been given a makeover, re-emerging as the much improved BlackBerry Pearl 8120.

The BlackBerry Pearl was a big hit when it came out towards the end of 2006. Building on the buzz around smartphones that maker RIM had built up with its solid email access devices, the consumer-focused Pearl fulfilled many tech fans expectations. Some people were disappointed at the mere nod to cameraphones with just a 1.3Mp sensor but, in general, the delighted Pearl most who encountered it.

A year on and RIM’s sleek-looking BlackBerry Pearl has been given a makeover, with a new purply-blue handset for those who like to ring the changes (a black version is still available). More importantly, our tests prove that the refinements to the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 aren’t just cosmetic.

For a start, you now get Wi-Fi as well as GPRS and GPRS/Edge connectivity. Out and about in mid-Kent, the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 quickly found two or three Wi-Fi networks that we could log on to if we chose, helped by the fact that 02 has hitched itself to The Cloud.

02 minimises the standard BlackBerry screen clutter by reducing the BlackBerry Pearl 8120's main screen to a selection of five main applications – Messages, the secondary email inbox set up for this trial, a dual SMS and MMS alert, Calendar and Address Book. Below this is the standard BlackBerry icon which you click on to access the more familiar BlackBerry screen.