Thursday, May 19, 2011

geek experiment: Blackberry 9780 for 30 days

Well, it has been a while since my last post so I thought today I'd write out a little smartphone experiment I've been working on.  I pride myself on being in the 'know' on all relevant smartphone OS and in turn realized I was falling out of the Blackberry world and thought I'd better bring my skills up to now.  Keep reading for the my thoughts on using JUST my Blackberry Bold 9780 (T-Mobile) for 30 days.  I even added a Playbook to the mix to really shake things up. ;)







Introduction

First things first, I am my companies Blackberry admin and in turn run the BES and used to configure a ton of Blackberry devices.  However as I moved into a more admin based role, I got less and less hands on time w/the devices and mainly worked on the backend side of things.

Also, these are the devices I have used/owned recently that I am basing my comparisons on (these aren't the latest and greatest of each os either!):

  • Google Nexus One (Android 2.3.4, rooted)

  • iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (iOS 4.3.3)

  • HTC HD7 and LG Quantum (WP7)

  • iPad / iPad 2 (iOS 4.3.3)

  • Galaxy Tab (Android 2.2, rooted, custom rom)

  • Blackberry Curve 8310i (Nextel, OS 4.2.x)


Up to my purchase of the Blackberry Bold 9780, I was using my company bought Nextel Blackberry Curve 83i0i.  A pretty old Blackberry that ran Blackberry OS 4.x and in turn did not have any of the cool new features of the Blackberry OS 6 (ie webkit based browser, App world, etc).

Blackberry OS 6 and App World

RIM's new Blackberry OS 6 is quite the step up from any of the previous versions of the OS.  It finally adds a much improved webkit based web browser (similar to the android/ios browser) that has become the de facto standard for browers among the smartphone OS world.

It also adds into the mix RIM's own Blackberry Appworld; basically just an app store for Blackberry devices and updated hardware and a much more logical sound/alert notification system.  It also continues w/the unified Inbox concept that also lets you add Social Media network accounts like Facebook and Twitter to it (given you have them installed  from the App world).

It also added the new Blackberry Bridge app to allow one to tethering his/her Blackberry to the new Playbook tablet.  Blackberry OS 6 is basically required for this since it adds the App world that has the Bridge app in it.

OS-wise, OS 6 is quite the improvement for any older Blackberry OS 4.x users and gets you a much better experience overall.  OS 6 has a more polished look to it and runs very smooth and fast.  I never had to wait for anything to open on the 9780, the main reason for any waiting may be the downloading of data or refreshing of data (this was rare since the 9780 does have T-Mobiles 3G radio in it).

Apps ran ok but the installation seemed to take longer than any Android or iOS app I've installed and also the uninstall process is very clunky. Most uninstalls require a mandatory reboot for it to fullly remove the app.  This would not be a problem if Blackberry phones rebooted within 30 seconds; they don't.   This is probably one of the most annoying things about the newer Blackberry phones; booting up from being off takes a good 3-4 minutes.  Not cool when all you want to do is just remove an app you wanted to try.

Apps for the Blackberry just feel clunky due to the nature of the Blackberry OS 6 and most devices not being a touch screen one.  Twitter and Foursquare for Blackberry OS 6 worked ok and may seem fine if you have never used the Android or iOS counterpart.  The Blackberry versions of these apps were pretty lackluster and just didn't work as well.  The selection of Apps in the App world is pretty slim vs the two other big dogs; nowhere near the amount of apps or quality apps.

Hardware

The 9780 is a very nice Blackberry phone.  I stress Blackberry since its not easy to compare a candybar form factor to a touchscreen.  Like apples to green robots to other fruit. ;)

It has a standard 5.0mp camera, HSPDA 3G capable radio (tmobile flavor), wifi, bluetooth (tethering via Diakup BT profile), micro SDHC card slot, A-GPS and a trackpad for navigation.

It is solidly built and feels like it could def take a drop and perhaps even a toss. The keyboard is still the BEST of any keyboards out there.  RIM knows their keyboards and lives/dies by them. The trackpad is very responsive and almost too responsive at times.  It does take a day to get used if you were using a pearl trackball prior.   Navigating the OS is easy and fast.

The screen is sadly pretty tiny compared to any touchscreen phone.  Its very bright and can compare to an Android or iPhone in regards to clarity and colors and the camera takes some decent pics too.

Blackberry 9780 + Blackberry Playbook

My job got a few Blackberry Playbook tablets in a week after launch and in turn I decided to hook it up to my 9780 since it basically requires another Blackberry to really work as you want it to.



First thing you have to do is install the Blackberry Bridge app on your Blackberry phone, once you do it will create a 'bridge' between your phone and the Playbook tablet via BT to allow you to access your email, contacts, calendar and other PIM apps/data.  Without a Blackberry phone, you don't get email or contacts or calendar.  So yes, another rushed tablet that doesn't even have its own PIM built-in apps. I can see from a security standpoint this being a good thing for enterprise users, but for consumers this is just pathetic.

You can also share your Blackberry phone's internet connection w/Bridge (if your carrier allows it) which is very nice since you can use one data connection for both devices.  One could do this w/an Android phone and Android tablet using the hotspot feature or via BT Tethering w/an iPhone and iPad (again both usually cost extra per carrier).

The tablet is fast and responsive but also suffers the same problem that the new Blackberry phones do; LACK OF APPS.  David said it in our Android vs iOS debate and I have to concede victory to him on this front; apps do make or break a device.  The Playbook does not have too many tablet orientated apps and the quality of the ones out there did not compare to any Android or iOS tablet orientated apps.

To wrap up the Playbook thoughts; great tablet for the security minded enterprise user, who already has a Blackberry.  A pointless tablet for those consumers that do not have a Blackberry. The Android player emulator thats coming will help in the app realm but RIM really rushed this tablet to market and it really shows.

Conclusions from the expirement

So after 30 days of using just a Blackberry 9780 as my main smartphone I must say that I am a bit concerned for RIM.  Their phones are great for the corporate/enterprise email junkie but beyond emails they just are so far behind compared to Android and iOS.  The apps are ok but can't compare to their Android or iOS counterpart.  The Playbook is a great piece of hardware but lacks a purpose for those w/o a Blackberry phone.  I think RIM was aiming for the corporate/enterprise sect when they released it but they have to realize that iOS and Android has penetrated the corporate/enterprise environments.  We support iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Tablets at work.  Our users decide the devices we support and there so far has been ZERO interest in the Playbook and I hate to say it, I would have to agree.

So what am I using now? My Google Nexus One phone.  A phone that is now over a year old but still feels fast and fresh.  That says a lot about a phone and OS imo.  What are your thoughts? Any Crackberry addicts out there?

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