From an overall device standpoint I like it a lot.
But first, from a camera phone standpoint, I am disappointed in the quality of the images from its two megapixel camera. I took some two dozen photos today and, as is my wont, established a moblog dedicated to 8300 images (see below).
Better than the Pearl?
I really want to like the photos produced by the 8300. But so far, I am not impressed.
In fact, I'm not sure if the images are any better than those from the 1.3 megapixel BlackBerry 8100 Pearl, for which I also established a moblog. I know some people don't like the Pearl's photos but for its low resolution, I think the images are much better than the typical 1.3 megapixel camera phone.
I do need to compare more closely, though, 8100 images with 8300 images. I've only just begun to take photos with the 8300 and don't use the 8100 much because I can't live without (well, perhaps prefer not to live without) a QWERTY keyboard on my primary e-mail device.
Not making up my mind yet
I certainly am going to give the 8300 the benefit of the doubt. I'm going to take many more photos.
Also, I received this unit on Friday, before any cellular operator in the United States has begun to offer it. (I'm using a T-Mobile SIM and I don't think T-Mobile completely supports the 8300, given that it's not yet available on the network.) Perhaps a software upgrade from RIM would improve the image quality.
Perhaps the hardware on my unit isn't quite as good as the devices that will be offered to subscribers in, supposedly, late May. Perhaps for a two megapixel camera phone, the images are considered good.
And, as I wrote in the introduction to my 8300 moblog, perhaps I'm spoiled by the quality of the images I've posted from Nokia's 3.2 megapixel N93 and five megapixel N95 that Nokia has been nice enough to send me as part of its Blogger Relations program.
(I posted a fair number of images on the N93 and N95 moblogs and some of them a rather poor due, probably, to my photography. I haven't decided whether to remove the crummy images.)
Overall really handset
Image quality notwithstanding, the 8300 seems like a real winner -- and I've been analyzing cellular phones for almost 29 years, including the first RIM pager). The 8300 is smaller and lighter than previous models and the ergonomics are good. It just feels good to hold, like the Pearl.
Its metal/gray color looks classy and the construction seems better than the 8700. It has rubberized-like plastic (I think it's plastic) along the edges that makes it easier to grasp.
The keyboard, though, is not as good as the best BlackBerry keyboards, and I've written about my keyboard fanaticism (for desktop PCs, laptops and portable devices) before. The earlier 7200 series BlackBerrys had keyboards with round keys that were relatively widely spaced.
These were the best BlackBerry keyboards for entering data and at the time they certainly were the best keyboards on any cellular phone designed in the candy bar-type form.
The BlackBerry 8800 keyboard is poor (see left) -- at least I think so. There is virtually no space between the keys so it's much more difficult to use than the 8700. For people who enter lots of text, I strongly recommend testing the 8800 before buying.
The 8300 keyboard is smaller than the 8800 or 8700, but the keys aren't as slippery and they are much more widely spaced (relatively speaking) than the 8800. It's a good keyboard, given the constraints of decreasing the size of the device.
If you have fat fingers and don't care about the additional features of the 8300 (two megapixel camera, enhanced MP3 and video player, BlackBerry maps, GPS capability with an external unit, microSD card), you might prefer the 8700's keyboard.
This affects probably .0001 of BlackBerry users: If you use Nokia's PC Suite software to transfer music to your Nokia Nseries handset and you employ Nokia's "optimized" format for MP3s and you use the same files in your BlackBerry 8300, you won't want to!
When I inserted two microSD cards with music and podcasts from the N95 into the 8300, the sound was awful on both cards. When Nokia converts my MP3 and WMV files into, I think, AAC+, the music sounds fine on the Nseries but not on the 8300.
However, when I manually transferred the regular MP3 and WMV files to the 8300's microSD card, the audio was just fine.