At a Glance What’s Good: surprisingly music-friendly; external play/pause button; stereo bluetooth, standard headphone jack; UMA capable; unique form factor; slick new BB interface; more compact than other BlackBerries; still has the BB office apps that keep executives aboard, but feels like a fun phone. What’s Not Good: no GPS; weak web browsing; some lag here and there. Bottom Line: If you're looking for a strong messaging device that works with a variety of communications platforms, the Flip will not disappoint. It makes calls over Wi-fi, and provides excellent call quality in adverse environments. Pretty much any kind of text communications platform currently available is accessible on the Flip. However, without 3G and a full-blown browser, don't expect to be surfing the night away. Specs: Make/Model: Blackberry Pearl Flip 8220 Network: GSM 850/1900 (There are European/Asian versions) Data: EDGE, Wi-Fi Carrier: T-Mobile Size: 3.98” x 1.97” x 0.69” Weight: 3.6 oz Form Factor: Clamshell flip with external display Display: Internal is 240 x 320 TFT, external is 128 x 160 TFT (262k colors) Memory: 128 flash; The hot-swappable microUSB comes w/ 256 MB, and accepts 16GB Notable Features: smooth external display with email/message previews; myFaves; voice notes; voice dialing; push email; stereo bluetooth; 2 MP cam with LED flash and 5X digital zoom, which can be controlled with the trackball. It also captures video. Introduction I am not a BlackBerry user. I mean, I've touched them and played around a bit, but I'm certainly not part of the crowd that experiences withdrawal symptoms after a day or two without BlackBerry interaction. Though I can assure you, such a crowd exists. Crackberry numbers are strong. There must be good reason for such loyalty and even addiction. Perhaps my lack of BB experience is appropriate for this review, because the Flip might be the one that can do just that; upturn the notions of people who thought they knew what a BlackBerry was all about. The name obviously refers to the phone's form factor first, but the physical changes seen in this release may represent a shift in the BB's overall appeal in the cell market. The Flip goes after the young messaging demographic while retaining enough familiar features to keep the exec loyalists around. Design & Features Before we dive in, I want to point out that Noah has covered this phone extensively in video. I'll avoid overlapping his info in this review, outside of the quick reference to the specs above. So have a gander at: Noah's early first impressions and hands-on at CTIA; his un-boxing and first-look vid; and his full review, parts one and two. One thing I love about this phone that I don't think Noah mentioned (he probably did and I missed it) is that the external mute button serves as the play/pause control when you are not in a call and have the music player running. It doesn't matter if it's in the background, or if you stopped playback 3 hours ago. Even when the phone is closed. One tap on, one tap off. Easy. Sensible. This is the kind of music control I look for. I complained about the lack of this feature in Samsung's Rant and especially Highnote, and RIM hath filled the hole in mine heart. (Don't you love it when phone reviewers go all Middle English on you?) Not to mention that the loudspeakers rival those of the Highnote! The BB isn't quite as crisp, clear or loud, but it's close, and works very well as an open-air music player. BB beats a music phone at its own game? Perhaps. The hardware control is that important to me. O.K., so I'll go over the design and features as usual, but briefly. For starters, it's a flip phone. It's sleek, refined, and the size doesn't bother me as much as it does Noah. Then again, I'm used to lugging around large phones. Red and Black flavors are available. When closed, the face shows a clock, email/message count, battery life, alarm status, Wi-Fi/UMA connectivity, voice mail status, and a few other notifications. You can also preview email and text massages here. Above the external screen sits a camera lens, with an LED flash, and a red LED status light.