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Old Tech Review: RIM Blackberry 7210 (+ Teardown)

While I can't recall the exact moment when it happened, I acquired my first and only Blackberry sometime during the Fall of 2005. It came to me without a battery, which rendered it good-as-dead to a high school student without any meaningful (read: expendable) income. Without any intention of leaving it in such a state I eventually MacGyvered the battery from a Nokia 3650 to be compatible with the 7210. This quickly propelled me out of my "dumb phone" days and introduced me to what a smartphone is capable of.

The Blackberry 7210 was equipped with a surprisingly legible color LCD. Even by today's standards it exhibits great readability in all sorts of situations. At the time it was probably even considered high-resolution, though the smartphones of the past few years would put it to shame with their insane DPI ratings and color saturations.

Interacting with the device was simplified to a clickable scroll wheel and the full QWERTY chicklet keyboard. Given the functions the device was capable of, this arrangement worked out quite well: Blackberries were thought of as devices to augment or fill-in for computers, not replace them.

With its limited features, small screen and slow cellular radio (judged from the perspective of today), the 7210 tended to last for about 3 hours before I had to recharge it. Voice calls were silky clean compared to the dumphones I'd used, though the earpiece never really formed much of a seal against my ear.

All in all the 7210 was a great device that I used quite happily for many months. I didn't send text messages back then so the keyboard was quite honestly lost on me, though I did appreciate it for the occasional note that I'd jot down for myself. It wasn't until later when I first encountered a Nokia E-Series device with a QWERTY keyboard that I finally understood the appeal of a keyboard-toting phone. And seeing how it would cost more than $5 to get an unlock code for a phone I honestly don't care to use these days, I decided to take it apart before recycling the pieces!

Removing a bunch of Torx screws.

One of the screws is hidden under a warranty sticker.

Lots of shielding on this device.

Keyboard light diffuser is... pink?

My 7210 was ~2 years old when I got it.

Shielding removed, components exposed.