on 18 February 2012
I was expecting better for the money and branding. I've had this for almost a year now and its average at best. It still does what I want it to, but occasionally, I wish it did the other things its supposed to do as well. Here are my gripes and praises.
The good points:
Emails, social networking etc all work very well. My facebook twitter and all the other social rubbish flying around will no doubt work as well here as on any other smartphone. Allowing you to update your burglar/robber/stalker with your location/mood in a heartbeat at every second of the day should you wish.
Phone calls,(amazing to think this is overlooked when buying a phone these days), are as good as expected with clear microphone and speaker and an assortment of preloaded tones and whistles.
Reception is good and wifi also works well with only the odd connection issues as with any network ready gadgets, but no persistent problems.
Bluetooth always functions flawlessly with my plantronics headset and connects first time, every time.
The battery life is reasonable for a smart phone. I use mine for "actual" phone calls mostly and I can get about 3-4 days out of it.
The keypad is a good size even for my sausage fingers, (I'm an electrician by trade and train with heavy weights).
It looks sleek and feels weighty, not like a cheap construction or flimsy plastic in any way.
It has buttons, yes real buttons, which seem to have fallen by the wayside in this day and age of touchscreen this and touchscreen that. I still like to answer my phone this way so I can put it in my pocket during a call and not worry about hanging up accidentally, or feeling overly paranoid that when I'm talking on the phone I have inadvertently sent a facebook update telling everyone I'm dead by touching the screen with my chin/ear/cheek. No such problems here.
Voice dialling works well. The days of tagging contacts with pre-recorded names via the microphone are over. It has an intuitive voice dialing system that already knows how words should sound including names, which came as a surprise. A voice training tutorial is all that is needed and you can call most of your contacts without having to repeat/scream at the phone. Some of the more complex names out there might fail on this system.
The bad points:
The OS is simple and good looking but very flawed. For some unknown reason I can't watch youtube videos anymore. I have no idea why, it simply goes to buffering after 2 minutes and then just stops. It worked fine initially but now, same problem even after reset. So I've given up on videos.
Web browsing is terrible. The screen size does not help in this day of huge fancy web pages with all the content under the sun on them. You will only see a fraction of the pages and have to fiddle around with the zoom feature, which involves using a dropdown menu, clicking on zoom, using trackpad, scrolling to appropriate size, then clicking on end zoom. All very cumbersome and slow. This of course means you can see more of the page, but won't actually be able to read anything. So, back to zoom we go and repeat steps 1-3, until eventually we can read whatever it is we were looking for. In between these operations the web pages disappear for about 5 seconds while the processor chugs along and re-sizes everything.
The browser also has a nasty habit of locking up and the cursor disappearing, leading to frenzied scolling trying to find the dam thing. This is likely to be because of touching the trackpad on certain web page features (such as highlight) causing it to go haywire, which in turn ends up with you closing the tab and starting again from scratch. The trackpad is as annoying as any laptop touchpad. Accidentally touching it whilst scrolling through web pages causes no end of chaos. These should be condemned to techie hell along with betamx and 8 track tapes.
A huge lack of applications available. No angry birds or other well known application are likely to be available and the ones that are come at a massive premium. An example would be an adobe PDF app costing £15/$20. Which was sub standard in that I wanted to read a magazine and there were only four zoom levels. Two of which were useless and the other two were too big or too small, at least for the magazine I was viewing.
The camera is good but the controls are awful. When trying to take a picture you have five icons at the bottom of the screen which use the trackpad to navigate. This can, in turn, lead to photos of pockets, tracking your GPS position to tag photos etc etc, without actually taking a picture at any point. You can use the camera button on the side to snap away but there is a good chance it'll be out of focus. When it eventually gets a snap, the pictures are pretty decent but it is a struggle to get there. Make sure those split second life changing moments never happen cos this baby won't be capturing them. Not in focus anyway.
All in all it should be better. I can honestly say I miss having a smooth, internet ready phone and I'll be avoiding blackberry in future. This phone is aimed at emails and texting rather than multimedia or apps, so keep that in mind when making your purchase and you will be fine. Provided you can tolerate the little niggling flaws it will serve you well with a decent battery life and good functionality as a phone. Anyone with poor eyesight or looking for videos and web browsing should avoid. With a little luck blackberry will address the software issues and some of the bad points will disappear. But only some.
on 19 January 2011
I'm going to give a bit of a life story here as I think it is necessary to convey the true reasons why I bought this phone. So, it'll be a slow starter, but bear with me- I WILL get to the actual phone part eventually. Or you could skip a paragraph or two... its entirely up to you.
I am a BlackBerry virgin. I've had a few mobile phones; I remember my Sony Eriksson k800i with fondness. When that decided it didn't want to charge anymore, I found myself in a spot of financial difficulty and had to settle for the Orange Rome, which worked, but the operating system was pretty dire. I ended up with a girlfriend who was on Vodafone, and after months of texting each other and having around half of our messages delayed/in bits, I decided to move to Vodafone, in the hope that our messages would be a little more reliable.
I bought the cheapest Nokia phone I could, along with a pay as you go simcard from Vodafone- but alas, our messages were still being delayed, arriving in chunks, or getting lost altogether. If anything, the problem was worse, and I returned to my Orange Rome in disgust. After a little more research, I found that some BlackBerries were equipped with "UMA technology"- a technology which supposedly uses your house/cafe/university's WiFi network to send/receive calls and SMS messages. I live in an area of low mobile coverage, and can only get a little signal in one corner of my bedroom; to think that I could use my phone all around the house was LUXURY. And, I thought, it might make sending/receiving texts that little bit less uncertain.
So, (this is the paragraph many of you may have skipped to) it was on the basis of UMA technology that I bought the Bold 9780, as a BlackBerry virgin. I must stress that I bought my phone from another website, on contract with Orange, so my review on this page may be a little inaccurate.
When the phone arrived I was impressed with the overall quality in terms of durability (its quite a sturdy little phone) and design; I love the gloss black finish, and the leather back. Getting set up was simple, even though I had never used a BlackBerry before. The trackpad is totally natural to use, and I found myself scurrying around the menus in no time.
Within minutes I was able to connect to my house's wireless network; all I needed was my password. I soon had the preinstalled Facebook application up and running, and was able to update my status and comment and like things and generally do my nerdy Facebooky things. However, when it came to calling, and sending/receiving a text, it had to be done over the Orange GPRS network. I am led to believe that only Orange support UMA technology in the UK, however as I had bought my phone through a major phone company (rather than directly through Orange), my phone was both unlocked and unbranded. I considered this a bonus at the time as I would be able to use the simcard of any provider, but it also meant that the phone's UCID code was different to the UCID code of phones bought through Orange. I don't know the technicalities behind it, but it comes down to this; if you want to use UMA technology, you need an Orange branded BlackBerry, so I don't know if the sim-free would be able to offer this service.
I was crushed, seeing as this was the main reason I went for the phone. But in terms of its connectivity, it outdoes the Orange Rome I had before it. My BlackBerry tends to get better signal, and when I go into an area where I know I should have signal, the BlackBerry will pick this signal up much faster than the Orange Rome. I'm also impressed with the texting system on the BlackBerry- if I don't have any signal, the BlackBerry will simply keep trying in the background until it DOES find some signal, and will automatically send the text. No more checking your outbox.
The BlackBerry also tracks your conversations- no more switching between sent messages/inbox, as the BlackBerry shows all texts, in time order, much like an MSN conversation. When you get a new message, I found that the BlackBerry often starts from the top of the "chat" and you have to scroll all the way down to the latest message, but you can bypass this somewhat by scrolling left rather than down as soon as you open the message. After 3 days with my new phone, this is pretty much the only fault I can find with it.
Ooh, I tell a lie; there is another fault. Very occasionally, you may find yourself on a screen which you're happily scrolling through, when suddenly you lose track of the trackpad. You move up, down, left and right but nothing seems to be happening and all you can do is press return. Also, in one of my text "conversations", it suddenly only showed the most recent text. I physically was not able to scroll up and read the previous texts. I don't know if the text chat was getting too long, but it was annoying to not be able to go back (though the messages hadn't been deleted- after a little searching I accessed another screen which had all of the texts there). Also, good luck with saving messages- you can mark any message as saved, but for the life of me I don't know where these messages are stored. As far as I'm concerned, nothing happens when I save a message, there is no "Saved Messages" folder or anything, the text conversation just stays the same. Anyway, these are small flaws in what is actually some rather amazing and intuitive software.
The BlackBerry Appworld is a delight, though it's nothing on the Apple AppStore. There are some genuinely interesting/useful applications... though most of them aren't free. I found that downloading applications on the computer was a hassle and wouldn't work properly. When trying to download from the AppWorld through my laptop, the Appworld website complained that it could not see my BlackBerry, which was clearly connected to my laptop as I had just synchronised music to my phone. After around half an hour I gave up and decided to only access the Appworld through my BlackBerry (there is a preinstalled AppWorld application) and things have been going swimmingly since then.
I had no intention of listening to music on my BlackBerry, but mine came with a 2GB memory card and I needed to fill it with SOMETHING! Hence the collection of 120 of my favourite songs... the Blackberry has 2 customisable buttons on the side of the phone which you can designate to do something, be it texting, opening an application, using the camera, etc. One of my shortcuts is to the music centre, where my .m4a music files and album artwork were ported from my iTunes collection, hassle-free. The sound quality is good and it goes reasonably loud. You can also set a music track as your ringtone.
The camera is decent, though it doesn't beat my old Sony Erikkson.
I've had a couple of phonecalls on it, in an area of low signal, and the call quality was good, though the line was dropped after around 10 minutes. I blame the signal. I really don't think you can be better connected than on a BlackBerry, though it does seem to take a good few seconds to start ringing the other person. However, I'm happy to wait if the connection will be stronger. I don't know if it is, but I like to think so!
I love the LED indicator, you can tell at a glance if there is something to attend to, whether it is a missed call, new text, or new Facebook notification. There are numerous free applications for customising the LED colour to specific contacts/types of notification. My girlfriend isn't pleased with being pink.
The BlackBerry messenger is much like the texting system, or rather, the texting system is much like the messenger. Pay as you go users typically pay an extra monthy charge for using BlackBerry Internet Services, which incudes the BlackBerry Messenger. I am on contract and it seems to be working fine for me, I ony hope I'm not being charged extra!
YouTube videos are as easy to search for and watch as they are on a computer, though I found that you cannot pause the video and let it downoad a little so that you can watch it back lag-free. You need to be in an area with a good internet connection- even when I left it for a few minutes, I'd click play and within seconds it would be "buffering".
Initially, the QWERTY keyboard was cumbersome, but by the end of the day I was pretty hot on it, and after 3 days I'm lighting fast. The keys are nice and solid and you soon get a real feel for them. You can also set up shortcuts so that when you type something it automatically displays something else. I found that searching for a specific symbol, like "<", was cumbersome. So for me, I customised it so that typing "ht" would output "<3".
You can choose specific pictures for specific contacts, and store as many numbers per contact as you're ever going to need, as well as specific notes on each contact.
Overall, I am very impressed with the phone- after a spate of bad experiences with phones, I wasn't expecting much, and was very pleasantly surprised. The phone is gorgeous, and more importantly, so is the operating system it comes with. This is my first ever BlackBerry phone, and I really don't think I'll ever go back. Just be careful when considering the UMA technology, and consider going on contract where you can likely get the phone for free. Also, be aware that on Pay as you go, you may have to pay extra if you want BlackBerry internet services whereas on contract it may be included.
There you go- no more paragraphs to skip.