Update: Here is what one customer has to say about AirTel’s BlackBerry service in India and the BlackBerry Pearl.
1. Email service on airtel.blackberry.com id is unreliable, as there is “no server” where to push emails from! I bought my Pearl in Dec-2006 and have lost most emails when the helpline tried to re-configure after my email send-and-receive stopped for some reason.
2. Trackball was beautiful, but since couple of weeks, scrolling has become erratic for me. Sometimes, upward scrolling does not work, and at other times, scroll to left fails. If the problem cannot be solved and the instrument has to be replaced, it takes about 15 days (in Bangalore).
3. Airtel and BB support has been poor, whether on phone or email. Calls get dropped, and they don’t stretch to call back or follow up, beyond an immediate and annoying customer-satisfaction sms. “Call volumes are high” is the standard response. Requests get “closed” though customer still faces problems, and if serious complaints are raised, the call is either dropped or you are told that a remark has been raised in their systems (whose wording, of course, bears scant resemblance to the issue at hand.
4. Blackberry Prosumer (tariff) Plan for data can get switched to Rs.899 plan even if you’ve signed up for the 499 one. You’re told to get company approval, though it’s a personal phone. Bills and collection followup via sms, manual calls, automated calls, etc., gets done 3-4 times daily by different agencies … to a point that outgoing calls are cut. It’s happened to me while on holiday with family in Mumbai, for a fault that Airtel+BB committed.
5. Other than for music, ringtones, pic, and video, files can neither be saved from within BB (even if it’s attached to email) nor viewed (when not attached to an email).
More later …
The BlackBerry Pearl has been retailing in India for a while now and costs approximately Rs. 25,000 (as stated on CNN-IBN – Tech2.0).
Strangely, I have not seen much of it on TV, Print and other media. The AirTel site does not list the Pearl either. Update: You can now watch the BlackBerry Pearl promoted on almost all the premium info TV channels.
The Pearl was featured this weekend on CNN-IBN’s Tech 2.0. While the shows review was not a detailed one (they enlisted a few strengths and weaknesses of several e-mail phones) you can find a detailed review on the tech2 web-site. Tech2 cited the Nokia E61 to be the closest competitor the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. In their own words, the Nokia E61 is a “BlackBerry Killer”. The Nokia E61 retails at Rs. 17,500. If your concerned about continuing to get your BlackBerry e-mail and are wondering if you can upgrade, the Nokia E61 can be used to grab BlackBerry e-mail. The E61 ships with BlackBerry Connect software that you can use to get your BlackBerry e-mail from your BlackBerry network.
Update: The E61 is being sold as the Nokia E62 in the USA. Business week has a short review of the phone.