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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Secret diary of a smartphone newbie

Around 6 weeks ago I took delivery of my first ever smartphone. My cherry was broken and my life may never be the same again. I am now the owner of a Blackberry Bold 9700 and boy am I glad to have taken this step.

As a new contributor for Digital Aneurysm I will attempt to outline my experiences of owning a smartphone, of discovering my latent tech geekery and espousing a somewhat layman's view of digital convergence and how that fits into my life. So strap in folks, here comes my first post...

So, Blackberry it is. But why choose RIM ahead of say Apple, HTC or Palm?
Well, as an iPod Touch owner, I had already started to consider whether one device could rule them all.

I agonised for many weeks as my O2 contract was coming up for renewal and looked at the various options available. Here are my thoughts on some of the options I had:


Looks-wise its perfect. Huge touch screen with multi-touch functionality, HTC's Sense UI, 1GHz processor, good memory capacity, etc. But what lets it down is the Windoze 6.5 OS. With Microsoft announcing Windows Phone 7 Series at the World Mobile Congress, WM6.5 is effectively redundant and is ultimately inferior to Android and the iPhone OS so I'm glad I steered clear. Also, WP7S seems to be a clean break for MS in their attempt to wrestle supremacy from Apple so I can't see them providing an upgrade for the HD2 or spending much time or effort on their 6.5 OS.


As mentioned above, I already have an iPhone minus the ability to call, text or go online out with wifi range. Many a boring journey on public transport has been spent playing paper toss and listening to podcasts for which the iPod/iPhone are undboubtedly excellent. However, price was also a consideration. In order to get one free, I was looking at a £45pcm contract and that's outwith my budget. I also really like my Touch and its good for a while yet so why make it redundant? Further, to use my iPhone for all my mobile needs as well as listening to music, podcasts and using apps would seriously hinder my ability to get through the day without charging.
In addition Đoþþelgänger had made a compelling argument.

Palm Pre

A genuine contender. I had a wee shot of one in the O2 shop and liked what I saw. Specs-wise it packed it all in and the OS has a good feel to it. I could also get it free on a £35pcm contract which was pushing my budget slightly. In terms of apps, the number is certainly growing but I couldn't help but feel the Pre is the perennial bridesmaid, never quite the bride. So much is going on with Google, RIM and Apple, not to mention Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and others; that I can't quite see them catching on as much as they perhaps deserve.

So, for me, that just left Blackberry...

Any time I ever saw someone using a Blackberry on the train, I have always been intrigued, jealous even. What is it about them that make them so addictive? Most people seem to get them through work and you see the most unlikely looking suited type talking as if their BB was one of their children. They are becoming ever more popular with regular consumers too with push e-mail seeming to be the biggest draw along with 3G connectivity (2 of the things I didn't get with my Touch!). Further, a quick check of the crackberry forum showed that a BB/Touch combo seemed to be a popular combination - so I would have the best of both worlds!

So, the last 6 weeks of my life using my Bold 9700 has certainly been interesting. I don't know if I'm addicted, not yet anyway. But in 22.5 months time, when my contract is up for renewal, I suspect things will be different.



  1. Yanno, I love my Blackberry(Work), but the App situation on BB isn't that much better than Palm. Where as Web OS is so intuitive and the Browser dumps all over BB's. I'll never forgive you for not buying a Pre!!


  2. Fool.

    The ONLY, I repeat ONLY, thing that the Blackberry does better than other phones is email...and perhaps I am mistaken but this isn't a work phone is it??

    You will get bored of it quickly, then one day when you realise that noone really sends personal emails outwith 'You've got Mail' and you aren't ustilising the best bit of your phone, decide it would be cool if you got your work emails to your personal phone 'just in case' isn't cool.In 2.5 months time you will be counting down the remaining 20 months of that contract by the day while sitting on the train playing with your ipod wishing secretly(and perhaps pretending) it could make calls.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not an Iphone fan. Like Mr Doppelganger I couldn't live with the lack of multitouch and I'm far too cool/geeky/rebellious(delete as appropriate)to have an Iphone(yet). So lets look at your other options

    HTC2 - Gorgeous Phone, Windows OS - nuff said. When HTC get their hands on Windows Phone 7 series we will all stand up and notice however.

    IPHONE - Multitasking aside, you have an Ipod and I get that point having 2. The sooner man bags become cool we will all be in a better place. Then we wouldn't have to squeeze a camera, music player, filafax, phone and johnny bag for the weekend into one pocket and start using devices like my Nokia 6303...its small, light makes calls, sends messages, I use it constantly and charge it once a week...remember those days!

    Nokia N97 - I had a Nokia N97 and it was awesome...on paper anyway. I remember showing it to people and them being impressed for a quick second...but it was fundamentally flawed due to Symbian and the lack of Apps.

    Palm Pre - So near but so far...correct choice not to buy. Remember when your parents bought you that first PC?? and then they would come into your bedroom once it was set up and say 'So show me something'..and you would like open an excel sheet, or a Word document...and then make the window bigger and smaller and see them lose interest very quickly?...that is the Palm Pre. My bro has one, and I've seen him show people how cool it is to close apps by flinging them off the page...then I see that look in his eyes I had with my Nokia..that look of dissapointment that he can't even get Ebuddy...apps are crucial, Palm have failed.

    Those were your choices listed, but there was one missing:

    HTC Hero -Why you didn't consider an Android Phone I will never know...especially one that HTC have put through their 'awesome' machine to give 7 home screens, and one that is the reigning 2009 T3 gadget of the year. I have one...and am completely bias of course..well maybe not bias..maybe smug is more appropriate. I have an awesome OS that is only going to get better with regular 'significant' upgrades that would have eased the pain of your 22.5 month wait. I have an abundance of 'FREE' apps that although not as numerous as apple, are growing and did I mention FREE. I get 2 days minimum battery life. I get free Premium Spotify on my PC and my phone which I have to say is an outstanding app..and that is free premium for 2 years...240 quid worth..oh and you mentioned money was a factor, I get all of that (including the phone for free and the Spotify goodness)with unlimited internet, unlimited email, unlimited Skype, unlimited same network minutes and 700 anytime minutes for 35 smackers a month....sold.

  3. Saying that email is the only good thing about Blackberry is underselling it. Sure it is feature numero uno but there are so many other things my Bold 9700 does well that I guess its mostly a personal preference.

    There are quite a few things that could improve but that makes it quite exciting- what's the next OS or Webkit browser gonna be like? What features will the new will RIM's new slider have? There's so much happening in mobile technology that it'll be fascinating to see how RIM react to the undoubted advances about to be seen from Microsoft, Apple, Google, HTC, et al.

    The app situation is definately a source of frustration though and I will talk a bit about that in my next post along with what I think needs to happen to Blackberry.

    As for the Hero, I got one for my wife, for whom I have a contract with 3; and I agree, it is a great phone. However, I'm with o2 who don't stock it and I need the reliability of their signal. So moving to another carrier wasn't really an option - I've also been with Vodafone and Orange in the past and not liked them. Added to that, I don't think I could handle having 2 contracts with 3, their service is godawful and reception is patchy.

    Style wise the 9700 looks and feels great so I am more than happy with my choice.


    PS- I WILL NOT be getting work emails to my phone unless my employer pays my bill. And that aint happening.

  4. Don't want to get into an argument but regarding your reply:

    mister_bee_ said...
    Saying that email is the only good thing about Blackberry is underselling it.

    I said that the only thing that the Blackberry does BETTER than other phones is email...not the only good thing, but the only thing it excels at...and you have stated you won't be utilizing this (shakes his head in a dissapointed manner). So fundamentally you have bought a device who's form, function, size, shape, gui etc is designed as a portable email client..and not using this bit. I mean, theoretically you could buy a campervan for the commute to work and weekly shop, it would get the job done...but is there not a prettier and more efficient way??

    You also touched upon the fact that you were excited about the future of RIM (I may have put words in your mouth there but essentially that's what you said)..Here is a recent responce from the CEO of RIM on a question that might interest you:

    WW: How has the iPhone influenced your strategy or vision for RIM?
    Lazaridis: There are many competitors in our industry with varying business plans and varying degrees of overlap. We don’t disregard any of them, but I think it is fair to say that we are much more focused on our customers and the road ahead. Perhaps that sounds like a cliché, but sometimes the age-old answer is still the right one.

    Now perhaps I'm reading between the lines...but that to me says RIM are focussed on the email functionality and business use where they hold market share..and have said baws to chasing apple and 'to the undoubted advances about to be seen from Microsoft, Apple, Google, HTC, et al'

    Oh, and one last thing...there are loads of O2 HTC Hero deals available...just not from the O2 shop.

  5. i love the smell of vendetta in the morning,
    As an Android(G1) and Blackberry(Bold 9000) user, i gotta say I love both.
    I've also been playing around with my BB making it more 'personal' and you know it aint so bad. Yeah you cant touch it for an enterprise solution, but even as a consumer device it's pretty good.
    I have a good facebook app which has more functionality than the Android version, a gmail client which is good (no where near the Android client but hey what were you expecting?), an excellent Twitter app (Uber Twitter), various IM apps, Shazam, an Engadget app (not yet available for android) and others that sort me out for most of my needs (something perhaps Palm couldn't say, alas i may have to admit defeat about my love of the Pre).
    Do i prefer Android? Indeed, mainly because of the shitty browser on BB and the much larger choice of apps available on Android. I also think the touch interface is where it's at and while BB have the Storm, it seemed more of a bolt-on than a rethink. However while I'm sure I'll get an Android for my next phone (only 3 months for me!) I can completely see BB as platform i would be happy on, so I don't think it's as black & white. And hey more choice and competition can only be a good thing for the consumer right?

  6. Jamie - apologies for the misquote but I use my e-mail every day for several things so I WILL be using this function, and many others. And I don't think I am the only person who does either.

    Your quote from Mike Laziridis is an interesting one. My take is that RIM ARE reacting to changing consumer demand but will remain true to what has got them where they are today - no sense in alienating your core business. Certainly the multitude of handsets they have available, such as the Pearl and Storm series; as well as those in development, such as the slider, would seem to confirm this. By no means are RIM without problems, but what handset is? I certainly don't think any Blackberry is some form of panacea, but I'll save my ramblings on where I think they should be heading for my next post...