My take on what’s wrong with Blackberry

I’ve recently begun looking for a new smartphone as my trusty Spica started to feel a bit..uh..old. Odd for a 1 year old phone to start feeling old but hey, it had already been out for quite some time before I got it. Menus and interaction was a bit sluggish at times, couldn’t install as many apps as I wanted because it’s available space was very limited, started missing some calls because it wouldn’t ring (no idea what caused it), had to constantly factory reset/reinstall rom because something would go bork and stop working, etc. While doing so, I remembered how much I loved the qwerty physical keyboard on my former phone, the Nokia E71. With that in mind, I remembered how well regarded Blackberry phones are/used to be in that aspect, so I started checking out some online reviews.

Their Bold line of phones seems to be quite good and the physical keyboard is reported as probably the best out there and though Blackberry OS and app store doesn’t have nearly as many apps available as Android/iOS I think I could live with that since I’m not that much into games and most if not all essential apps I use on Android are available there as well. The issue with them is their price range, +500€ is simply put too much to shell out for what we get in return. Their keyboards may be great, but not that great. Especially when you consider that for that price you can get a phone with much better specs such as the Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus or even the iPhone 4S. No qwerty physical keyboard, I’ll grant you that, but with screens big enough for that to be a non issue.

Into the Curve line of phones then. The 9360 seems to be exactly the phone I’d buy. If it was at least 150€ cheaper, I mean. It’s seems to be a great phone. Qwerty keyboard (though not backlit like the Bold 9900), Blackberry OS 7, decent storage and app space, etc..but guys, it’s not a 300€ phone. Not even close.

This takes me to another issue I found with Blackberry recent handsets. Their batteries and battery life. A 1000mAh battery on a handset like the 9360? Really guys? I remember pulling almost a week’s worth of use out of the E71, though the Symbian version they used isn’t as battery intensive as most “modern” handset operating systems and hardware seem to be. I mean, people on the forums were complaining about 4 hours use before their phone went dead. That just doesn’t cut it. 300€ for a phone with it’s specs that lasts for less than half a day before it needs recharging? No thanks.

That said, I went and checked the other Curve phone available through my local cellphone operators, the 8520. 170€ for a phone with no 3G (Edge only), no GPS, Blackberry OS 5 as opposed to the current Blackberry OS 7, 256mb internal storage memory…are you even serious? I’d rather go for a cheap 50€ qwerty Huawei phone.

After further reading on what buyers had to say and online reviews I ended up going for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro. A 1ghz Android handset, 512RAM/400mb storage, 5MP camera with HD video recording (although reviews suggested the camera isn’t that great and it really isn’t, I don’t really use my phones to take pictures), qwerty physical slide keyboard(!) which is pretty good/solidly built and changed what I used to think of slide keyboards, etc. Former Sony Ericsson model X10 Mini wasn’t impressive at all but this new line of “Mini” phones has been surprising a lot of people. All for…can you guess it? 170€. The same price I’d pay for a really outdated phone such as the Blackberry 8520. Hell, for 50€ more and I could even buy a Nexus S. A bit outdated but still a hell of an impressive phone.

I’ll grant you the Mini Pro has a small(ish) 3″ screen, but I don’t watch movies on phones, I don’t really read stuff in them for large amounts of time and when I do I find it surprising that I really don’t find such a small screen uncomfortable..that’s what made me look into Blackberries in the first place. Besides, a smaller screen drains the juice out of the battery far less than larger models and that is vital to me. But anyway, sheesh guys..if you put a premium price on something you better make sure it’s up to par with equivalent hardware. I don’t even mean Android phones that come up with a “best available specs phone” every couple of months or so..even the iPhone that has a somewhat inflated price for the hardware would be a better purchase than the Bold 9900 for the kind of money you’re asking.

Simply put, recheck your pricing model. The Bold 9900 isn’t a 500€ phone, more like 300€. The 9360 isn’t a 300€ phone, 150€. The 8520 would be a decent phone for 50€, though it’s *really* outdated.

The hardware is fine for what the phones are supposed to do, but their price is simply not justifiable when you glance at the next phone on the store shelf and see much better hardware for the same price range. One could say it’s the same as the Apple vs Android thing, but personal tastes aside your OS isn’t even comparable in the slightest to what Android/iOS has to offer for exactly the same price or sometimes for a hell of a lot less on Android’s case.

I really wanted to like Blackberries when I started hunting for a new phone to buy, I really did. But all I could think of was “are these guys serious?”.