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From Apple to BlackBerry and Back Again

Three years ago I got my first Apple device, the iPod Touch, 2nd generation. Two years ago my company blessed me with my first smartphone, the Blackberry Curve 8520, and last year I got the BlackBerry Torch 9810.  When my phone’s term comes up in under two months, I anticipate going back to Apple, as HAL has announced that its employees will be moving in that direction. The Mrs. has an iPad and iPhone 4, so I keep up a little bit with iOS.

I appreciate both platforms. There are things from both that I wish I could merge into my would-be-perfect smartphone.

The biggest asset to Apple, obviously, is the App Store and iTunes. I will appreciate getting my paid-for Apple apps like PrayNow back on to my primary device. Songs that for DRM reasons would not sync to my BlackBerry will sync to a new iPhone. I look forward to using a real, supported Google+ app.

Another would-be asset to Apple would be its hardware near-universality: cases and other accessories would work between my and my wife’s phones. Not any more, if the rumors about the iPhone 5 and the smaller plugs pan out.

Torch vs iPhone

BlackBerry Torch and iPhone (credit: CrackBerry.com)

Most of the things I will miss about the BlackBerry are in the design of the hardware. I will miss the hardware keyboard most of all. I like my fingers knowing where they are supposed to be without the need for me to look at them. I will miss being able to replace the battery with a full one like I could when we spent all day in Chicago. The trackpad/click button that let me do things with precision. The holster that put the phone in vibrate mode as it hung from my belt and told the phone to use the audible ringer when it was out. A “back” button that works with all apps.

I will not miss many things about BlackBerry software. A major annoyance is the carrier being in charge of the OS version. Despite being able to run version 7.1, AT&T holds the Torch 9810 down to 7.0. Even T-Mobile lets the Torch go up to 7.1. There’s no reason to hold the device back.

The worst annoyance is that regardless of the OS version, I frequently got the dreaded clock icon that told me that the phone was busy. The phone would lock up and require a battery pull. Often the phone would lock up during a reboot, so that I would have to pull the battery again. It might take 3 or 4 bat-pulls before the phone came all the way up.

It is no wonder Research In Motion is ditching the Java-based OS line and moving to the next generation QNX-based BB 10 platform.  I wish they could have done it last year; otherwise, HAL might not be moving away from them.

I will miss the BlackBerry infrastructure. One doesn’t see this in operation until one gets an email from one of five email accounts right away, without a need to refresh or poll the mailboxes. It’s also seen when one changes phones; give the new phone your BlackBerry ID, and all the non-enterprise emails are back on the phone.  The infrastructure stayed operational while the D.C. earthquake took out iPhones and Androids. Of course, there’s BlackBerry Messenger, which many apps on many platforms have attempted to emulate and can only come close.

For all Apple talks about being a hardware company, it is the software which makes their phones shine for now. I really wish I could have the Apple software in a BlackBerry form factor. I will probably have to get a slider keyboard add-on for the new phone. Today the BlackBerry OS 7 looks old; next year, it may be iOS that looks long in the tooth. Who knows; maybe HAL will switch back, again a year too late. As far as Androids go, the company takes the Star Wars Cantina approach with them: “We don’t serve their kind here.”

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2 Comments

  1. Unashamed says:

    Living in Waterloo, where RIM is headquartered, loyalty to the BlackBerry is almost a civic obligation. And I have loved all my BB devices over the years until I recently upgraded to a 9900 which I’ve had to send out for repairs twice now. That’s been a major disappointment. I seriously considered switching to another device maker but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to drink the Apple-juice and stuck with my Bold which has is working well now. The kicker for me was the iPhone’s touch-only keyboard and interface – its not a long-fingernail-friendly device. How do other women type on these things??? My Playbook has keys three times the size of the iPhone’s and I still struggle with it. I Agree with you though – it would be nice to be able to blend the best features of both into one seamless package!

    1. Dan says:

      Cool. I imagine living in Waterloo might be similar to living in Cupertino…the four months when there isn’t any snow. :)

      I was actually surprised to see that a replacement battery in Canada had a higher price than in the States. I would have expected that the exchange rate and being in the country of manufacture would have helped.

      I love my Torch. I hope your newest Bold works out for you.