Review: BlackBerry 9670 Style
I was not expecting to like that BlackBerry Style. At all. I've never been a fan of the flip, and early photos of the Style showed it to be an even gawkier-looking flip than the Pearl Flip. I was surprised, then, to take a shine to the Style. It has a significantly smaller footprint than any BlackBerry other than perhaps the Pearl 3G. It is small, smooth, and still light despite the presence of metal materials. It has to be the most pocket-friendly BlackBerry ever. The materials and build quality are top notch. RIM has never slacked on how its phones are built. Everything about the Style feels good.
The glossy front of the Style mimics the Pearl Flip and offers a large, secondary screen. A 3.5mm headset jack, microUSB port and microSD card port are all located on the left edge of the phone. The hatch covering the microSD card port is a tricky one. It requires that you remove the battery cover in order to pry it open (that, or you have to resort to tools sharper than the average fingernail). Since you have to remove the battery cover, I have to wonder why RIM bothered with the hatch design at all.
On the right side of the Style are Curve 8330-esque volume controls and an application key. These keys are covered by a soft-touch paint job. All three have excellent travel and feedback, with the perfect amount of "click."
The Style's hinge is fantastic. It looks great, works well, and feels solid. It has some serious spring tension, and snaps open and shut with authority. The keyboard that's exposed when the Style is open is a typical, good keyboard from RIM. The keys have classy-looking metallic frets separating the four rows of keys. The keys themselves are angled for the user's thumbs, though they have slightly less shape than keys on models such as the Bold 9650. The keys have perfect travel and feedback.
My one complaint with RIM keyboards is not about the hardware, but about the key selection. I would like to see the "period" get its own key, rather than require the ALT button. Same goes for the "@" symbol. It would also be nice to see some message-centric keys for emoticons, "www" or ".com." I don't expect RIM to add these, but it would be nice.
RIM has placed the usual controls above the keyboard. The Send, BlackBerry, Back, and End/Power keys are all flush with the surface of the Style. There are no physical boundaries to spell out where they are. Each gets plenty of real estate, though, so it isn't too hard to find them. The optical trackpad is nestled between these keys. As with other RIM trackpads, it works very well.