Friday, August 20, 2010

Concerning Blackberries

So i've been playing around with my Blackberry for a few days and I think I should write a bit about it. Good to capture the thoughts and all that. Also, I did some research before settling on it so this might help people who are undecided.

Ive been an early adopter with Cell C, having taken out a contract with them in their first month, and while I don't really consider myself brand loyal I'm 'familiar' with the brand so I just kinda stuck around and hoped they would improve (its like many married folk - they don't really love their partners anymore but are comfortable with them so they stick around). However, when Blackberry's became all the rage again, I couldn't help but feel left out (Cell C opted to ignore 3G and concentrate on increasing its market share with lower lsm's (i.e poor people) so I started thinking about jumping ship to either MTN, or Vodacom (seriously, who ports to Virgin?) MTN was cheaper, but they converted their free minutes into airtime which is bullshit because instead of getting a 100 free minutes I would have been getting a 100 rand worth of airtime which is like 42 minutes. Vodacom was a bit pricey, offering the Blackberry with a hundred anytime minutes for R340. Luckily Cell C realised that they were alienating a percentage of their client base (i.e MJ) and decided to roll out Blackberry contracts three weeks ago. And its a pretty decent deal too - I have an entry level Blackberry (the 8520) with the BIS service, CLI and a hundred anytime minutes for 199 a month. Sweet. Cell C'c reception is crap in my area, but it doesn't matter because they allow you to use Vodacoms towers. So what I have is Vodacom signal with Cell C's rates - cue Hannah Montana's 'Best of both worlds'.

As for the phone itself, its hard to even call it a phone. Its more like a portable networking tool that allows you to make calls. I'm thrilled that I can look up random shit on wikipedia and not worry about being charged a crazy fee at the end of the month. That's what I do whenever I'm bored - I look up weird shit on wikipedia. I havent tried the more sordid sites. Ask me again in three weeks.

Its all quite overwhelming at first, getting all your e-mails,twitter and fb notifications, mms's and sms's in one place. but the more I get used to it, the more I love the interface. The actual FB app is rather crap, but you can use fb mobile through the browser so that's pretty cool. Twitter is way better though, and makes for a welcome change from the original. The browser is a bit crap and I feel that Opera Mini is better when it comes to reading text. For some reason the BB browser doesn't optimise the display for the screen like Opera Mini does. So I often have to scroll from side to side as I read each line - annoying.

BBM (Blackberry Messenger) is great, and I dont see myself logging into mxit ever again. I need to get used to the keyboard though as im pretty sure it was designed for small Japanese ladies - my thumbs are too fat. I don't know how the Big Show would be able to use one of these things. As I play with it, I start discovering new things and it reminds me of video games I used to play when I was younger, and the sense of achievement I got when I discovered something. Like for example - I thought it was dumb that I had to hold Alt and pres M to get a full stop. Then I discovered that you hit the spacebar twice and voila. I shouldn't say voila. It sounds gay. Eureka! Less gay, but a more gay image in my head of naked man running through streets. Dammit!

The phone is not without its flaws though - I wont pick on stuff like Flash etc because the top end models come with it. Its just that i'm so used to having stuff on Nokia. Little things like the voice that calls out peoples names when they call. I really like that. Sure, theres an app you can download on the bb that will do this but the catch is that it will only work on Vibrate mode. Then theres the whole vibrate thing as well. On Nokias (and most other phones) you get vibrate and tone at the same time. On the BB, it will vibrate twice, then ring. Most of the time you tend to ignore the vibrate, or just make a mental note of it to check later (its probably two idiots fighting over something on one of my status updates) but after the second vibrate my ringtone comes on and by the time I reach for my phone it might be too late.

The other thing is that it makes you a bit too accessible. And very unsociable. I hate it when I'm trying to have a conversation with someone and they are more interested in their phone. I don't know anyone who is that important that they need to check their phone every 14 seconds in case The Swiss call them to give them a Nobel prize for being an unsociable prick. And then theres all the forwarded messages. God i hate forwarded messages. People just broadcast any crap on Blackberries, and they don't realise that they are spamming me. A very dangerous instrument of misinformation. I do like that you can copy and paste basically anything so that helps with transferring information between the various apps.

The worst thing thing about the Blackberry is its battery life. Its like having a fancy Mercedes Benz, but it only has a ten litre tank.

While I will revisit these thoughts in a month or two, for now i'm happy with my blackberry and I recommend it to anyone who dabbles in social media, who is in a long distance relationship and is very very cheap. Just like MJ.



Shak said...

The popularity of BBs is another example of what's wrong with this ignorant world we live in. There is NOTHING a BB does that a Nokia (since you're a fan) E72 doesn't do better.

If you want to enter a closed system, then get an iPhone. At least Apple use lube when bending you over.

M Junaid said...

I find many iphone users to be smug.

While a Nokia can do all that - the bb is better suited for our market because our data costs in south africa are stil quite high - two rand a meg.

Shak said...

But this is precisely the issue - a phone does not equate to the tariff you're on, yet so many people accept that it does (including iPhone users). Can't you take the sim out and put it in another phone?

Such a concept would never work in the UK, we wouldn't let it, and that's precisely why we get to pay 10 quid (115 rand) for 800 mins, 1600 texts and unlimited data (including BIS if I wanted to use a BB for some insane reason).

Bottom line - service providers shouldn't be allowed to control the hardware you use. It's another part of that net neutrality lark the US are currently banging on about, and you guys should start hopping on it too, because next comes content (you're already seeing it with BBM).

Anonymous said...

I have the BlackBerry 8900. Because I just don't do trackpads.

There are a few things I will add to your evaluation. Before my 8900 I owned an 8310 (also with trackball, pretty much the first BlackBerry to hit SA in a big way). I was *very* impressed by it and I loved it incredibly. It was my baby. I thought I'd have the same experience upgrading to the 8900 but I was wrong. The software is a little better but I don't feel they've added enough extra value to their newer models to make them specifically worth it (like the 8310 was back then).

The battery life sucks. But they charge quickly and you can hook them up to pretty much anything for a power up.

But the biggest drawback: the GPRS. The 8520 and 8900 (and most earlier versions) don't have 3G ability. It's 2010. Who designs a phone without 3G connectivity? Retarded. My Sony Ericsson 7 cellphones ago had 3G connectivity.

I get that limiting us to GPRS access makes the whole BlackBerry service more viable (cuts down on our usage). I go green whenever I see an asshole sitting with a 9700 in his paws, enjoying the pleasures of multiple 3G networks...

Nadia said...

Lol its everything I ever wanted in a phone esp cos its a 9700 :p,I can't do without it n its true mxit jus fades away cos u only give ur bb pin to ppl u really want to chat with.

Edge Of Where said...

Try upgrading the software on your phone. I just upgraded mines and it now gives me an option of vibrate at and ring immediately.

Minhaj said...

You got you "i.e" skills from The Oatmeal, I know.

M Junaid said...

shak - while our service providers to work on an 'oligarchy type' model, our markets are different. Sweden might have introduced pay as you go billing, but south africa has really popularised it. We still have infrastructure concerns that we need to sort out first.

zuhayra - apparently my phone is 4G because of some marketing bullshit that cell C has told me - im supposed to be getting speeds of 7.2 megs per second. crock

nadia - thats the bold yeah?

edge - will try that now

minhaj - ive been doing that since standard 4 - or grade 6 for your young ass. I need to start publishing some of the stories I used to write back then - I was a prodigy!

Unknown said...

Welcome to BB world. I agree, not as good as a Nokia in terms of pure phone functionality, but is brilliant with its convergence of communications. Data cost is another huge benefit, especially whilst roaming. Unlimited data roaming packages are only available on bb's. Other small stuff like being able to forward BBM messages as email, etc. I used to be a Nokia diehard once too.

Regarding battery life, try the following: Reduce Backlight Brightness from 100 to 10 (major user of battery); and reduce polling intervals on fb, twitter, etc.


Shak said...

>Unlimited data roaming packages are only available on bb's.

Arrgh! You're sleepwalking into an awful future, people. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to file this under my "I told you so" list as well.

Anonymous said...

I still don't get the hype over BB's and iPhones. I think it might be a good thing.
I used to 'ooh' and 'aah' over mobile phones before. I just don't anymore.
My time away in the USA made me less dependent and impressed with cellphones. Maybe it's because they have horrible rates and cellphone packages and South Africa is well above them in certain aspects (why charge people for receiving texts and calls? greedy networks!).
So I used a cellphone less over there and that habit has stayed with me once I returned to SA.
Perhaps when my trusty Nokia decides to give out I'll look into the BB :)

Mxit must be crying - MJ has left them. Haha.

Thanks for the review. I'll keep Cell C in mind for the day I decide to change my mind :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry if this question is awfully naive, but how does a cellphone without 3g ability manage 4g network access?

The only BlackBerry Curve with 3g access is the 8530, to my knowledge.

Anyway. If what you're saying is true, I will be very annoyed that I ported to Vodacom.

I know no one has anything good to say about Cell C, but my experience with them was a lot better than it has been with Vodacom. Note my experience is gauged primarily by internet connectivity.

Unknown said...

One thing that has not been discussed here is the BB's influence and effeciency in the working world. As a journo I upgraded BIS to BES (a little more cash but worth it) and now manage all work emails through my phone, in addition I have the entire address book of Ind Newspapers in my hand. Functionality wise, I have filed stories from my phone, sent pictures to newsdesk etc etc It has, in a way, made my job easier and more effient.

What I found works for me, is that I switched vibrate off for all emails and notifications, so it doesnt kill my social life completely. It only vibrates for calls/sms/ messenger (excluding group chats) I guess it saves on battery too.

Shak said...

Sorry to bang on about this, but Android, iOS and S60 all fully support Exchange ActiveSync, so there's absolutely no reason you couldn't use those platforms for push email and contacts sync/directory services instead of BES. It'd probably be cheaper and more reliable too, since you wouldn't be relying on some third party middleware.

Of course, you won't have a BB PIN to post on Facebook... but I see that as a good thing anyway. :) The only benefit BBs have is perceived, but that's marketing for ya.

Anonymous said...

@Shak isn't the 'third party middleware' the essence of what sets BlackBerry apart from the rest? I think so. Not that we're secret agents... but it's sort of cool.

Anonymous said...

you got it!i like it!!!

ExMi said...

which blackberry are you reviewing here? i am a bit confused...

Anonymous said...

I have a rubbish phone but an iPod touch, I haven't used a BB but every BB user tells me to come to 'their side', it's as though it's a cult of iPhone & BB users- creepy stuff.

Loved your review, fat fingered people are really feeling the general fattist discrimination across the world.