Iâ€™ve noticed a number of Slovenian bloggers writing and tweeting about of BlackBerry 8310, which I guess is now available in Orto smart or something like that. For some reason these reviews are very positive and happy, so Iâ€™d like to provide some balance into the discussion.
Iâ€™ve been using the phone now for 6 months+ as part of the business package that my employer decided to standardize on.
Iâ€™ll start by saying that the user interface is a horrible mess, with most things at unusual locations and well hidden. Unless you patch the phone with the latest firmware, itâ€™s even worse. This means that youâ€™ll be scratching your head clueless most of the time.
Also the most obvious things are missing. You can not send someoneâ€™s contact to a SMS number. You have to find the contact in address book, select the number, copy, go to the other menu in the phone, create a new SMS, paste the number and then send the SMS. A process that will take you a few moments and a lot of practice with the wheel and the command button before you manage to do this without starting to scream at the RIM (Research in Motion, makers of Blackberry).
At one of the conferences I actually met someone from RIM and asked them about this feature, and the person told me that SMS is not popular in North America, therefor BlackBerry is not optimized for usage. You know – just send that contact as email (something that you can do easily).
Itâ€™s also not possible to receive contacts via SMS. For some reason RIM decided not to play nice with other phones, so someone sending you Nokia VCF/contact SMS, will translate into lot of garbled text that you have to hunt out details out yourself and do big things with copy and paste again.
The other thing that really annoys me is that battery life is terrible. You get two days most, with most of the time being day and a half, just enough to make the end of the second day miserable because of dead BlackBerry battery.
While nice thing about BlackBerry is that itâ€™s quite robust, itâ€™s still pretty weak at points. The scroll wheel in the middle will regularly stop working, fall out or stop scrolling in one direction.
The application collection (remember, itâ€™s a smart phone), is terrible with everything hidden behind random pages on Google. There are some nice apps like Google Maps, Gmail, Google Sync (starting to see pattern here?), Remember the Milk and TwitterBerry, but they all seem lacking any true passion from developers to make them really useful on the road.
Iâ€™ll end this rant (even though I have enough material for follow-up), with the fact that mobile browsing/data packages on BlackBerry are really slow. If you sit in a confrtable office in middle of Ljubljana, they somehow work (even though web browser canâ€™t even do CSS), but as soon as you start moving around it becomes really slow. God forbid you want to visit any of the foreign cities, where something like Google Maps would actually be useful. Since the phone is GRPS/Edge only, the Simobil contract will put you on Vodafone roaming which is 3G in UK, which will make your phone default to GRPS. Thereâ€™s nothing better then to be lost in London, late for a meeting (remember: youâ€™re lost for a while now) and your BlackBerry Google Maps still doesnâ€™t show you actual map because of the low GPRS speeds.
I wonâ€™t even start on a crappy 2 megapixel camera, that doesnâ€™t allow good blog photography or the fact that even keyboard starts failing after 6 months with enter key mysteriously being pressed while typing, loads of empty SMS-es sent our automatically during night and no clear way to know, what is part of RIM roaming and when you have to pay data charges.
While BlackBerry 8310 isnâ€™t a complete Fail, itâ€™s not something to be really exciting about. I also have some good things to say about the phone, but Iâ€™ll save that for a possible followup blog post. Right now Iâ€™m seriously considering switching away from BlackBerry mobile platform. Iâ€™m considering waiting for Nokia N96 or just go with now cheap N95, that actually has camera that works and is much better mobile machine (notice that I didnâ€™t say iPhone here).
The fact that Iâ€™m considering switching from a company issued phone to something that I finance myself just to have a better life on a road, should speak for itself.
What are your experiences with BlackBerry? Am I just grumpy because itâ€™s raining in London as I write this and my BlackBerry is on slow roaming, with battery that mysteriously died yesterday in a middle of the day?