The BlackBerry Style comes loaded with RIM’s latest and greatest operating system, BlackBerry OS 6.0. This includes a beefier browser compared to older models, a revamped user interface, and the ability to type and auto-search through the entire device.
Part of the new UI is a multi-pane homescreen, which allow you to organize your software into different pages that slide up from the bottom of the display. I found this useful, though I ended up using the automatically-generated “Frequent” list almost exclusively.
The Style’s performance is among the best of recent offerings from RIM. It is generally snappy, and although OS 6.0 has a learning curve, once I got used to it I found a lot of features that I liked.
I did find some lag when quickly switching screens, switching from typing to scrolling and switching apps. It’s a livable amount of lag but, but any lag is bad lag.
Call quality is excellent with the Style, both from a carrier and device standpoint.
Where this device did lose some points is with its speakerphone. BlackBerrys have long had impeccable speakerphones — a reputation to which the Style falls somewhat short. The outputting speaker on the Style is too easily covered resulting in muffled sound.
The Style doesn’t disappoint in its connectivity options. It has Wi-Fi (b/g), Bluetooth with streaming profiles, and the Sprint’s 3G CDMA Network (EV-DO). Of course GPS and Blackberry maps are standard.
BlackBerry Messenger is a critical part of any BlackBerry, and BBM 6.0 comes standard on the Style.
Email functionality remains unchanged, but is still one of the most robust mobile clients I’ve used. It incorporates many advanced desktop client features such as marking messages as important, flags, adding attachments from messages in an intuitive way. Email functionality with push synchronization is available for everyone, not just business users with BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Like other OS 6.0 devices the Style also offers visual voicemail which puts traditional voicemail systems to shame.
Another new feature of the new operating system is a consolidated Social Feed.
The Style offers the standard DataViz Documents To Go as a mobile Office suite. This allows you to view but not edit files. You can enable additional functionality by paying to upgrade to the premium edition, but this is probably unnecessary in most cases.
BlackBerry OS 6.0 features a new WebKit browser complete with tabs that makes accessing websites on the Style… bearable.
RIM is making a conscious effort to incorporate more entertainment features into its devices. Mostly this charge revolves around becoming more media centric. This effort is manifested through Bluetooth that enables wireless stereo streaming to capable players (e.g. newer care entertainment systems), a media home screen to easily navigate through your pictures, videos, music and more.
When the Pandora radio app (not standard, but a free) is installed, every menu screen has a shortcut to it. This shows just how seriously RIM is taking entertainment.
App World, BlackBerry’s equivalent of the Apple’s App Store, comes standard on the device, in addition to the games Brick Breaker and Word Mole, both of which offer minor slight UI updates.
The Style has a 5.0 Megapixel auto-focusing camera with flash and video. This type of camera has become pretty standard-issue for RIM, which is good news. For a long time RIM was falling behind the crowd with its sub-par cameras, though now I fear simply equipping their devices with 5 megapixel won’t keep them competitive for much longer.
I already mentioned my only problem with the Style’s camera. As it is positioned behind the keyboard, and the clamshell can’t be opened a complete 180 degrees, taking pictures requires you to cock screen toward yourself awkwardly.
The camera does offer several pre-configured picture taking modes such as snow, sunlight, indoor etc. The different settings do make a difference but won’t negate the need for a pocket point-and-shoot digital camera.
The BlackBerry Style’s battery life is fairly decent — in my testing, it would last more than one day on a single charge with moderate use.
Like all new BlackBerrys, the Style charges via a micro-USB port.