Honestly the smallest phone we've ever used, the Haier Black Pearl cellphone is perfect for slipping into your pocket and slipping out for a night of fun.
But what about everyday use? Is the UI as good as the phone is small? How about the sound quality? And the screen quality? How much functionality did they have to sacrifice to cram everything into such a small package? The answers, after the jump.
As you can see from the shot on the left, the screen appears inside the phone, shining through the transparent black finish. It's a cool effect for sure, but has the problem of making the phone totally unreadable in the sunlight. And I mean literally—you can't see anything when the sun's out. If you try and shade the screen with your hand, it's still very difficult to read, but you can make it out a little. The phone is definitely readable indoors, but it's nothing we'd call bright.
The sound quality was decent if you're in a relatively quiet environment, a.k.a. not driving on the highway. The earpiece is somewhat weak, so if you're at a party showing off this phone to the ladies, you're not going to be able to hear anything if you get a call. Also, the mic quality is pretty lousy and has lots of wind noise when just walking. Sound both in and out: not great.
Then there's the UI, which is confusing and not well designed. To get just about anywhere in the UI, you have to use the scroll wheel on the right, which is kind of flimsy. Push it in to get to your contacts, push it up or down to get to the phone settings. Speaking of phone settings, various items are buried under "Phone", "Settings", and "Tools", leaving you to guess where, say, call forwarding, is located. It's alright once you get used to it, but the UI is not intuitive at all.
Also, when you're dialing a 10 digit number, for some inexplicable reason the display only has nine digits on one row, wrapping the tenth to the second row. This makes the phone pretty hard to read and shows that not much thought went into the UI design. It does have some animated icons, which is just about the only good thing going for its UI.
The buttons are actually fairly decent to use, something you wouldn't expect from a phone this size. However because the phone is so small, it gets a bit uncomfortable when held against your ear for long periods of time. That's possibly due to the weak earpiece sound, so you're essentially trying to jam the phone as far inside your ear canal as possible.
Counting up the details: a not-so-bright screen, not-so-loud sound quality, bad echo cancellation/DSP processing, and a hastily designed UI. The good: nice buttons, animated icons and the fact that it's really, really tiny. Because of its shortcomings, we'd only recommend this as a secondary phone, useful to take out when you don't want a huge bulge in your pants. Otherwise, we'd gladly sacrifice bulk for functionality.
Product Page [Black Pearl]
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