When the BlackBerry was introduced in 1999, deciding which model to get was fairly easy. Seven years later, Reseach in Motion is now a 25 billion dollar empire with a wide range of devices to choose from.

Early BlackBerry Device: RIM 850

Choosing the right BlackBerry phone is not an easy task and there are many factors to consider. I thought I would write a guide this week to help with the process.

Many BlackBerry Device: RIM 850

1. SureType or Full Keyboard?

This is probably the most important criteria when choosing a BlackBerry. Many BlackBerry devices come with a full QWERTY keyboard. The full keyboard is recommended if you intend to write many emails. It is a bit tiny but you’ll get used to it and be able to type quite fast. The Pearl (8100) and the 7100 family feature a reduced-key keyboard and uses a technology called “SureType”. Each key represents multiple letters, numbers, and symbols. SureType also uses a prediction dictionary to figure out which word a user is typing. This is a good choice if you primarily use your BlackBerry as a phone and maybe read emails.

SureType vs. Full QWERTY
SureType versus Full Keyboard


Most of the world runs GSM. If you do international trips, this is most probably your best choice. GPRS and EDGE are packet switched networks and will give you decent data speed on GSM networks. In US, Cingular and T-Mobile have GSM networks. In Canada, you’ll find Rogers Wireless.

CDMA is another option. Some devices will also support Ev-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) giving you one of the fastest browsing experience with rates up to 2.4 Mbps (well in theory). Sprint and Verizon Wireless operate this type of network in the United States and Bell Mobility and TELUS in Canada.

Finally, you can always choose Nextel which offers iDEN (integrated Digital Enhanced Network)

3. Bluetooth?

Most of the new devices come with Bluetooth, but just make sure yours does too. This will come very handy when purchasing additional accessories. The most popular Bluetooth addons are headsets and GPS systems.

A popular bluetooth headset: the JABRA JX10

4. Multimedia?

Coming from the business world, the BlackBerry is still pretty poor in term of multimedia functionalities. The recent addition of the Pearl (8100) finally brings some exciting features such as 1.3 Megapixel camera, video player, MicroSD port for memory extension

5. Third party software

Luckily, most of the developers are doing a good job making sure all their software work on all different BlackBerry devices. So in general, this will not really influence your decision. But keep in mind the screen resolution is different depending on the model. It can go from 240×160 pixels for the series 7200 to 320×230 for the series 8700.

Handy Table

We put together a handy table summarizing all the features/differences between the major BlackBerry devices available on the market: 


And finally, here is the last of our three part series on choosing your next BlackBerry. The chart below contains a summary of the major wireless carriers who offer BlackBerry devices and data plans. Please note that carrier pricing corresponds to a BlackBerry device with a new 2 year contract. Adding a voice plan to your BlackBerry is also an additional charge.

We focused here on the US wireless carriers. For our friends in Canada, BlackBerry devices and plans are available with Rogers Wireless, TELUS, Aliant, Bell, MTS, Sasktel.

Smaller carriers also offer BlackBerry in the US. Check Alltel, CellularOne, Dobson, cbeyond, cellularsouth, TCS and SunCom. 

## This Article Was Originally Published on AllBlackBerry.com on December 4th, 2006