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on the blackberry bold

posted to writings on nov 4th, 2008 with tags blackberry, iphone, nerd, and phone

over a year ago, i switched from a blackberry curve to the apple iphone. the iphone has been a fairly good smartphone and i haven't had too many complaints, until a month or two ago when everything on it started to get really slow and laggy. opening an application like notes or sms would take a few seconds to show anything, then another 5 or so seconds to actually respond to a tap. by the time the camera application would actually show its video, whatever i wanted to take a picture of had usually changed or moved.

the lack of 3rd party apps quickly led me to jailbreak it so i could run things like mobileterminal with openssh and vnc. while neat at first, jailbreaking quickly became a pain in the ass, usually leaving me a version behind the current release for a while until a stable jailbreak had been released. i resisted upgrading to the 2.0 firmware for a long time partly because it hadn't been jailbroken, and the app store apps were pretty lame compared to what i already had installed.

lately the phone had become so slow and frustrating that i didn't even bother trying to use safari on it and would instead just go upstairs to my laptop. with frustrating lag in the interface, an unusable web browser, and no decent, backgroundable jabber client, i had to wonder why i was still using the iphone.

i had been reading about the blackberry bold set to be released today and i thought it would be just like my old curve but with 3g, wifi, and gps. i called the at&t store yesterday and they said they had them in stock already, so i went and picked one up last night.

my initial reaction was that it is much bigger than i remember my curve being. the faux-leather back case seemed tacky, and the overall shape of it just seemed bulky. i played around with it for a while and got all of my settings changed, applications installed (jivetalk for jabber -- pretty much the only thing i cared about) and toyed around with google maps using the bold's gps.

when it came to setting up my e-mail accounts, i quickly remembered how much the proxied blackberry bis setup sucks. a clunky walk-through of the wap menus to add an account and give rim and at&t access to all my e-mail, and eventually a new e-mail message arrived. while fetching new e-mail from my imap server is almost real-time, it's not at all a real imap client and can't view other folders or older e-mail messages. i installed logicmail to view other folders, but it's not a replacement for the native e-mail app since it doesn't do new mail notification.

with the iphone already cast aside and the blackberry bold now seeming to be a disappointment, i'm not really sure what to do. the new curve 8900 looks small and a bit more appealing than the bold (with the exception of 3g), but the blackberry e-mail system still annoys me.

while preparing for the bold, i had restored my iphone to a fresh firmware image that was not jailbroken and didn't have any of my apps, settings, or music. not surprisingly, it was quick and responsive, but i thought, what good is the phone in this state? is it going to slow down again once i put all my crap back on it? well after swapping sim cards back and putting the bold back in its box, i restored my old iphone backup, jailbroke it, and strangely it seems quick and responsive even with all my stuff on it. i'm not really sure how to explain it, since i did a restore before to un-jailbreak it and it was still slow, but maybe going to a new, clean restore in-between is the answer? who knows.

so now i'm back on the iphone. the bold is going back to the at&t store, and i'm going to wait for the new curve to come out to see what i'm going to do. if apple can get their push notification service working that they were supposed to have out 2 months ago, i can have a functioning jabber client that works in the background with instant notification instead of this lame push e-mail notification that doesn't really work at all.

as for my thoughts on the bold itself:

  • it's quite a bit bigger than the curve.
  • the rear case is ugly and looks cheap. it's also not as wide as the front cover so it doesn't feel like one whole solid unit like the curve and iphone.
  • the camera sucks, even with its crappy flash.
  • the keyboard is nice and easy to type on.
  • the side and top buttons are hard to push with one hand and the phone really needs a single hardware lock button that can just be pushed once and not have to be held down to lock the screen.
  • the phone audio quality seemed good.
  • i haven't even tried to play video or music on it but the screen looks bright and crisp.
  • there is an annoying ripple that results on the screen every time you press the ball or one of the side buttons, as if you're pressing too hard. i think it's because the case and screen cover are too thin.
  • the gps seemed quick to locate me and worked fine in google maps.
  • having to use missing sync on my mac sucks. using itunes for my iphone isn't much better, but at least it can sync more things and do everything i need to to restore the phone. i really miss the over-the-air sync that my old motorola slvr had that worked over bluetooth. i wouldn't even have to take it out of my pocket to sync and pull photos off of it.
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