Buying a BlackBerry at a Time When That Just Isn’t Cool.

I had the intention of making my already 17 month-old LG Optimus One Android (running OS 2.3.3 Gingerbread) last until Quarter One (January-March) 2013, and the launch of BlackBerry 10. However, it being an old phone, and, at that, a low end device when I bought it, it began to fail on me. So now that it was clear that that phone certainly wasn’t lasting until BB10, I decided to buy a budget BlackBerry Curve 9320, to use until I could get my hands on a BB10 device, at which point I would sell the Curve for whatever I could get for it. There were a few reasons for making such an against-the-grain choice: I was already in the BlackBerry eco-system with my PlayBook, I hadn’t had much experience with BlackBerry phones, and by bridging the Curve to my PlayBook via Bluetooth, I ‘unlock’ a whole new set of cool features.

BlackBerrys are currently about the most un-cool devices to own, and producing one in public these days (especially in New York) is likely to make you the brunt of a few jokes, and a lot of condescension. But they’re really not all that bad, I’ve been using my 9320 for almost a month, and I fully appreciate its strengths and weaknesses. In the article I linked above, you will see this quote  “I want to take a bat to it,” Rachel Crosby, of Los Angeles, says of her creaky BlackBerry. “You can’t do anything with it.” She hates it so much that she wants to take a bat to it, thinks it can’t do anything at all, AND to top it all off, the clearly biased reporter describes her BlackBerry as “creaky”. That sounds nothing like a balanced, fair article to me, given that no perspective was given from the many BlackBerry users that actually enjoy their phones.

Thorsten Heins, currently CEO of RIM wrote a reply rebuking that article, and I agree with many of his points. BlackBerry does, believe it or not, still have a large fan base, and is not losing ground, as the article implies, but is actually still growing by approximately 10% annually!

But back to my point, BlackBerrys have things that they really do well, any kind of messaging or social networking for example. BlackBerrys also have a solid media suite, music pictures, video etc, and the web browsing, contrary to popular belief isn’t half bad (although the physically small screen doesn’t help at all), the OS 7.1 browser itself is actually surprisingly capable and fast.

Yes, it is true, the iPhone does do things better than BlackBerrys currently do, anything media-centric for example (mostly due to the larger screen), web browsing (again, mostly because of that screen, and faster hardware), and a larger and more varied app selection certainly do make the iPhone a more capable device in certain areas, just as BlackBerry is the king of speedy typing, email, instant messaging, social networking, etc.

Both devices have different use cases, but are very capable machines in their own ways. BlackBerrys have been roughly judged over the last 2-3 years, and have fallen from favor very quickly, where as the iPhone (and Android devices) have risen to favor equally quickly. Despite their drop in popularity, Al Sacco of cio.com believes that using a BlackBerry can still be cool (seriously), because it expresses your personality and shows that you don’t really care if others disagree, and I couldn’t agree more.

Among BlackBerry users lately, the saying “I’d rather be a Black Sheep, than an iSheep any-day.” has been used quite widely. And that strikes me as pretty well said, because to carry a BlackBerry now means you have to have a bit if a thick skin, but it also means that you bought what you needed, liked, or preferred, not that you bought what was cool, only because it was cool. Although most people who own iPhones or Androids do not buy them just to be cool, it is a harder choice to buy against the grain, and buy what works for you, despite the ridicule you may endure as a result of that.

In conclusion, I have yet to find something my Curve can’t do that my Droid could do, sure the app selection is much smaller, but I found apps for everything I needed on both my Android and my BlackBerry. In the end, what device you choose is up to you, your personal preference, and how you will use your device. For me, a BlackBerry is what truly works best, do I care that it is probably the least cool and most easily ridiculed choice I could have made? No. And neither should you.

I will have a full review of my Curve 9320 up as soon as possible. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment on this or any articles on my blog!

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