Blackberry Curve Impressions

A few weeks back, I finally entered the 21st century and bought a smartphone. For the longest time, my cell phone was exactly what it looked like – a phone – and I didn’t have a lot of interest in turning it into something more. The truth is, I usually feel a little too accessible; why invite unadulterated intrusion? Then I started traveling more and things changed. I began to see a smartphone as a way to enjoy more freedom in that accessibility. In other words, I sensed an opportunity to become just a little less tethered to my laptop. I can be responsive while maybe enjoying a little natural light. Novel.

So I looked around. Now we all know that the iPhone is the sexy pick. Check that. It’s the holy-crap-that’s-sexy-as-hell pick. Maybe I’m not sexy enough or maybe my need for sexy is waning as I age, but I chose to live a rebel’s life. Defying the urge to conform, I chose the Blackberry Curve 8330 (yep, big time rebel, here). I made that choice, in part, because I keep hearing about some of the basic features that the iPhone lacks, but above all else, I chose the Blackberry because I simply wasn’t willing to give up my network (that famous mass of Verizon Wireless-gear-wearing bodies that you can probably hear, even now) for a phone. It’s just too damn good. Period.

So anyway, now that I’ve been using it for a few weeks, I thought I’d “publish” my thoughts on the device so far.

The Good

  • First, email. Real, live email without turning on a traditional computer. An obvious “good”, perhaps, but having never accessed email via my phone, it’s pretty novel to me.
  • The Curve, and probably other Blackberry devices, is extremely customizable. Since I like to believe that I’m a power user, customizability is important.
  • More than volume control or silent mode, the Blackberry offers Profiles that can be customized as to how each service (SMS, phone, mail, etc.) broadcasts alerts when a relevant even occurs. There are a few out of the box and custom profiles can be created (more customization). This metaphor for setting behavior is different from anything I’ve known before and I quickly decided that I really like it.

The Not-So-Much

  • There are about 4,308 ways to configure email and I tried about 4,287 of them before settling on something that works for me. BIS, BES, POP, IMAP, bah. I configured access to my corporate Exchange Server via BIS before realizing what BES really was and learning the my company had one. Likewise, the easy path to configuring my Gmail account left me with a POP connection until I figured out how to force IMAP access.
  • Although it’s customizable, accessing that customizability is not trivial. Basic operations, like moving icons around, require research or happy accident to discover the mechanism for doing so.
  • As a phone, the form factor kind of sucks. In my opinion, a headset is an absolute must. Without one, talking on the phone feels like I’m holding a brick to my face. Put kindly, it just feels awkward as a phone.
  • The applications, quite honestly, suck. Perhaps there’s no market to speak of, but this is one area that the iPhone is vastly superior, from what I can tell.

One the whole, I have to say that I’m quite happy with it. It’s not perfect, to be sure, and it’s not the sexiest phone on the market, but for me its pros outweigh its cons.

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