Well, after a lot of research (and some anecdotal negativity on the forums which I had to dispel) I finally got a P990i. It's vodafone "branded", so I thought I'd have to go through the usual stuff to get it de-vodafoned but to my surprise the firmware out of the box (R7c ish) was good looking, and felt pretty stable: 2G/3G network selection (sticking to 2G thank you very much, better battery life), RSS feeds enabled, and no vodafone crappy icons. Excellent! Then I read about R9 software, put the update service on the laptop and fired it up: 30 mins later I've got a happy up-to-date P990i which seems to be plenty stable.
Overall I'm impressed - the flip is more solid, the QWERTY keyboard is fine, and the WiFi is blisteringly quick. Now all I have to find is SKYPE and a blogger app for it! :)