I do not own a BlackBerry device. I have used several devices such as Symbian products from Nokia and the Samsung Galaxy S running Android Froyo. When I was given the opportunity to try out the BlackBerry Bold 9900 last year, there was some hesitation. I am not familiar with the BlackBerry architecture. During my time in Pacific Internet, the Blackberry was a fully corporate device, used in the same breath as Windows Mobile 6/6.5 by Motorola and Samsung. I had no interest in that architecture.
Before I go on and write about the Bold 9900 experience, it is fair to refresh readers on what you can expect from BlackBerry OS 7. For me, coming straight from a non-user experience, here is what I find interesting.
1) I have a lot of email addresses. Two on gmail, 3 on gmail app based, 1 domain based and 1 on hotmail. There are several arguments out there if one would prefer to have everything unified under a single email address or have separate email boxes for each mailbox. I stand on the latter. BlackBerry OS 7 makes all this a breeze by allowing me to have individual email boxes and have notifications on each mailbox for any incoming mails. On this part, I will touch on the replying experience – that is, using the keyboard on the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Coming from Nokia phones, I am already used to hard keys – coming from Samsung Galaxy S, I am used to qwerty, Bold 9900 larger key formations, allow me to reply my mails effortlessly. I do not need to slam multiple keys like I would on a Nokia Symbian phone, nor would I be worried about missing key, typing on a touch screen keyboard. Yes, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 comes with touch screen, I am not a fan of it.
2) I tweet a lot. UberSocial is the perfect app I think for the BlackBerry platform. It offers the experience I am used to, on the desktop where I use Hootsuite. And thank goodness for the custom Symbol options that you can find standard on all Blackberry phones. Back to the keypad, yes, definitely very easy for me to pound out the tweets on the go. Sometimes, I can even type without even looking at the keys. That reminds me of the old-ish Nokia experience. You cannot replicate that on the touch screen even with haptic feedback!
3) BlackBerry Messenger. Yes BBM. Yes it was only a test account. Thank goodness for the few friends that I managed to test the account with. Having been used to internet messaging and text messaging, I would have thought that I have seen everything. BBM is like a new breath of life. Messages are send and received in seconds. Loved the custom emoticons although one can really get carried away with that haha! Sharing images as well as calendar appointments are the two main things I have performed using BBM. Well, yes, thank goodness for Whatsapp – when it is working.
And now the BlackBerry Bold 9900 experience.
It was an issue when I first got it. I get maxed out within 6 hours with my heavy usage of twitter and email. An OS7 upgrade(OS 126.96.36.1999) fixed that problem and I can get through the day on a single charge. Searching for the answers on forums are indeed helpful, if you have the patience.
What do I do when I am not tweeting or replying to emails, I listen to music. I am on the go all the time, and I need my music. Well it is either music or podcast downloads from Tech65, Twit.tv or Revision3. And the experience is fair. The easy to control playback controls on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 makes pausing tracks simple when I need to.
I will not hesitate to say that the browsing experience on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is better than I expected for such a small device. This is probably the only time that I used the touch screen on the device. Pinch zooming and double tap zoom are great assists. Pages load very fast. With support for multiple tabs, I never realised that I have opened 9 tabs and still have the browser maintain its shape.
There will be some clamouring for more apps on BlackBerry AppWorld. Thankfully, I still belong to a generation who uses a device for its main purpose, in this case communications. Be it messaging, email or tweeting, the apps I used are conventionally limited, yet the benefit that it gave toward my life professionally and personally are immense. It is no longer a matter of potential to realise how one can benefit from Blackberry usage, but a matter of when, one wants to gain.
Check out the technical specifications of the BlackBerry 9900 here.