I own an iPhone 4 and recently — let’s just say — had a short affair with the BlackBerry Bold 9700. I know they’re not particularly the top of the line of their brands, taking into account that iPhone 5 may be announced in a couple of days.
So, this article is actually more about the hangups I had with my BlackBerry Bold 9700 experience as against that with the iPhone 4. Some points may not be applicable to other BlackBerry models like some touchscreen in the BB Torch line, but definitely some are very much relevant to all models.
First, let’s talk about what I liked about the BlackBerry:
- Unified Inbox via the Messaging App. From Email, SMS, BBM message, Gtalk, Yahoo! Messenger, as well as Twitter and Facebook notifications — they are all there in one place. The Gtalk, YM, Twitter, and Facebook apps were developed by RIM (Research in Motion) itself, so they are seamlessly integrated into the Messaging app. The Messaging app also serves as the central notification center, which functionality is yet coming to iOS 5.
- Longer Battery Life. As a second hand device, I still get more than two days of usage if Wifi is on (which I always use in the office and at home), and less than two days when it’s off (meaning I’m always on cellular data connection).
Quite a short list, really. Now let’s move on to where the BlackBerry is really getting into my nerves. This list is in random order, and as such may appear in whichever crosses my mind first:
- Small Screen + No Touchscreen. Browsing the web and navigating the Twitter and Facebook timelines will always prove to be so hard. I wonder how I survived this technology pre-iPhone. No pinch-to-zoom. Can you imagine browsing the web using the trackpad? It’s a pain. And scrolling through Twitter or Facebook timelines using that same trackpad is simply cumbersome, if not irritating.
- No Google Reader client. Actually it does — BeReader, but it only adds to more disappointments (See my previous post).
- Gmail filters are not heeded. I filter certain messages in my Gmail so that they are automatically archived and don’t see the inbox at all after they’ve been received by the email system. BlackBerry do not follow this, and instead sends all messages to my device. I need to setup another filter at the BIS website if I want to not receive those “certain” messages (and there are a lot of them — mess!). Of course, this is not the IMAP way, and BIS is not IMAP.
- You need to read an email from your BlackBerry device first. That way, the same message will be marked as read if you access the email account from the web browser, a desktop client, or other non-BlackBerry devices. Otherwise, that message will remain unread in your BB device until actually opened. Again, this is not the IMAP way, and BIS is not IMAP.
- You need to open the Facebook notification from the BlackBerry device first. Just like in the previous point, until you open the FB notification in the BlackBerry device itself, it will not be marked as read even if you already opened the same notification in the desktop browser or in other devices.
- GPS is far off the actual location. May it be in the map app or other apps that use GPS (e.g. Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter), BlackBerry GPS location is far less accurate compared to that of the iPhone.
- Wanting for more great and actually working apps. Quickly from the top of my head: chess, personal finance, Instapaper or alternative, RememberTheMilk (not just MilkSync) or other tasks app with sync, etc .
- Inferior Facebook app. That’s besides navigation problems discussed above. The interface is just ugly.
- Inferior Evernote app. Too small fonts — cramped to the small screen of the BlackBerry. Also, no HTML support when editing.
- Twitter app is just fine. Simple as Twitter can be. And yet, besides it being hard to navigate with the trackpad, it’s nowhere near the likes of Tweetbot.
- Not so flexible with email addressee auto-completion. When adding recipients to an email, it doesn’t search for the actual email address. Instead, it just searches for the display name. So if you just can remember the email address but not the display name, you’re out of luck.
- No character preview during password input. So the chances of entering a wrong password is higher as there’s no way to check out what letter/number/character you have just typed.
Some more remarks about my BlackBerry experience:
- Data Compression. BlackBerry has always been bragging about its efficient data compression before they are delivered to your BB device. It may be true in terms of minimal data usage if you’re in a data volume pricing with the internet service provider. But when it comes to browsing speed, I really couldn’t tell the difference. If internet browsing or message delivery is indeed speedier in a BlackBerry, I’m far from impressed.
- BlackBerry does not equate to a business phone. BlackBerry is not necessarily just for business. Likewise, for business you don’t necessarily need a BlackBerry. An iPhone or an Android phone can do as well as a business phone, in fact maybe even better.
- Data Security. Another thing BlackBerry users are proud of is about their data security. I wonder how much more security can you get from BlackBerry if you, say, have a Gmail account? If you’re really worried about security and encryption, you’ll actually need a fool-proof system (and cross-platform at that) like OpenPGP for iPhone?
- BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is overhyped. Some people flock into the BlackBerry bandwagon simply because of BBM. I think BBM is the only thing that distinguishes the BlackBerry from all the other smartphones. And its unique to their brand. Whereas, you can use other messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, etc. that are cross-platforms, why confine yourself to messaging within or among BB users only? Actually, message delivery in BBM is no way faster than what its alternatives can do. Still, the fastest way to send a message so your recipient can receive instantly is via SMS. It’s just that there’s no way of telling if your message has been received and/or read.
- Value for Money. And the irony of it all, the BlackBerry device plus the BlackBerry Internet Service solution oftentimes prove to be more expensive than — say an iPhone plus an unlimited data plan.