Product Type: Blackberry Smartphone
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Blackberry 9780, if you don't want your phone to control you.
Blackberry Bold 9780
Member Name: bikerchris
Blackberry Bold 9780
Date: 21/05/11, updated on 21/05/11 (48 review reads)
Advantages: Long battery life, high quality display, relatively tough chassis (plastic), ease of use, shortcuts
Disadvantages: Non-touch screen, Difficulty with email setup (gmail), keyboard takes some getting use to
For specifications, go here:
I never like those reviews that start off with personal information and are only interjected with anything useful, so I'll just get the relevant bit out the way (but if you're interested, there are some notes at the bottom):
My previous phone: HTC Magic
IN THE BOX:
The Phone (+battery, rear cover)
USB PC connector cable (Can also charge the phone)
Charger (with euro/uk adaptor)
CD with Blackberry connectivity software (also available as a 120MB download)
MicroSD Memory Card (2GB)
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
That's the first thing that came to mind, partly because the phone could barely do anything email-wise (connecting to Gmail for example), must have been in Amazon storage for some time! So install the software, connect the phone and follow the update instructions....BE PREPARED FOR A LONG LONG WAIT, well in excess of an hour (not based on slow broadband/internet speeds).
Next, if you previously didn't have a Blackberry, you must contact your network provider (Vodafone, Orange, o2, etc.) because you may have to pay an additional fee per month for "Blackberry Service". For me on Vodafone, this was £5 per month and Three's monthly fee is the same. Not doing so, means that email, text and the mobile internet connection probably won't work (although voice calls will).
First impressions, you can't help but have concerns over the KEYBOARD size, and the individual size of the keys. The keyboard is a Qwerty layout and although the buttons are small, it's not too difficult to type at a reasonable speed. As I'm new to physical buttons it is taking me a while, having had a non-responsive touchscreen for nearly two years. I haven't got especially large hands, but the only way I can see how to use the keyboard is with finger nails, although this isn't too difficult to get used to and occasionally I use the flat of my thumbs, which surprisingly hit the correct key even though I cover 6 keys at the time of pressing. In fairness, the keys on the HTC were only slightly bigger, but with the use of clever predictive text, it would know when you'd mis-keyed and suggest the correct word. The 9780 does the same thing, with only a minor flaw in that you have to press the main button to accept a suggested word, whereas the space bar on the HTC combines an 'accept' confirmation as well as creating a space (very clever).
The 9780 has an 'alt' key for selecting the symbols on each key (or numbers) which you press once for single selection or, for instance if you wish to tap a phone number into an email, you can press and hold and continue pressing the numbers. There is also an upper/lower case button and a 'sym' button for additional symbols. The latter has been well thought out because the screen is filled with symbols when you press it, each symbol has a corresponding shortcut letter (as well as manual scroll selection). For instance if you wish to write "£20" you would press 'sym' then 'v' and the pound sign would appear, you would then press and hold 'alt' and press '2' and '0'.
NAVIGATION feels very smooth, screen transitions are doubly so, you really feel like you're gliding about with the "optical trackpad". This works in much the same way as a laptop trackpad, with the addition that an increase in finger movement, increases scroll speed (I hope that makes sense?). It has both horizontal and vertical sensitivity adjustments available, and the option to audibly roll, the latter makes the phone 'ticks' when you scroll around - not good for discrete use at work, in a library, or in the cinema.
BUTTONS are a nice touch on the 9780, with fully customisable shortcuts (two in total) on either side of the phone (They activate the contacts and camera in my setup for instance). They are firm enough not to be accidentally pressed, the same goes for the volume control on the top right edge. There are two top mounted buttons for muting an incoming call and for enabling the keylock.
SHORTCUTS are very useful, for instance you can press and hold the # to change the sound profile from silent to loud. This is just one of the shortcuts, you can configure speed-dial buttons, so when I want to call Darren, I press and hold 'D' as soon as I remove it from the holster/sleeve. There are probably many more shortcuts that I've yet to find.
Optional CHANGES to some settings are really well thought out. For instance you can disable the Enter key from being a button that sends text messages, in case you do hit it from time to time and send a partial message.
The SLEEVE is quite clever (although more likely sensors on the phone), quite nicely made and most importantly puts the keylock on as soon as you slip it in. Withdraw it and the keylock turns off straight away and the screen comes on 'ready for action'.
TEXT SIZE is small, there's no doubt about that. You can change it, but due to the high clarity/resolution of the screen there's not much need to do so. But that's based on my fairly good eye sight.
The LIGHT SENSOR is a nice touch, the screen adjusts it's brightness based on ambient light. So if the sun is out, the screen is at maximum brightness. If you're in bed with the lights out, the screen dims so as not to burn your retinas.
BOOTING/STARTING UP is very slow, taking over a minute and a half to be usable. My logical side accepts that this is the price you pay for a reliable phone, that's quick to use once it's up and running, etc. This relates to when you've removed the battery or installed software, if you select to "turn off" in the menu, it starts up again as if it was never off (i.e. within a second).
GOOGLEMAIL/GMAIL INTEGRATION - EMAILS
This is not a fun topic to talk about, but it must be done. Before any updates the 9780 would not accept any non-enterprise email configuration, such as Gmail. Afterwards it worked quite happily and provided options such as labelling, archiving, marking as spam etc. But one thing it would not do is load emails that were received prior to the Blackberry setup. This is a shame, and part of the reason we have emails is 'just in case' we need information in 'that' email we received a few months ago - could be flight/check-in details for example. As a work around I installed the Gmail App (http://www.google.com/mobile/blackberry/) that provides full functionality. As part of the work around I disabled notification as I use the Blackberry Push program for that as it's quicker (Gmail App is not instant and checks for new email every 5 to 20minutes).
Another issue I've just noticed is that the push mail account does not 'backwards' update with Gmail. For example: log into webmail via a computer web browser and archive/delete messages and the changes won't be reflected on the blackberry. I tried to 'Reconcile Now' as per the option in the pop-up menu, but to no avail. So email changes are reflected FROM Blackberry TO Computer Browser, but not vice versa. Something I hope to live with until they resolve it.
This may or may not inconvenience you, but I noticed an oddity this morning. Last night I typed a draft email on my computer, via the browser based version of Gmail. I had intended to double check it this morning and then send it via the phone (assuming that either push mail or the Gmail App would sync draft responses or new drafts). It did not, the the irony that my draft response was in there...somewhere, as the conversation count was "(2)" on the email that had filled out a draft response. Just a minor niggle really, but it may make a difference to you.
GOOGLEMAIL/GMAIL INTEGRATION - CONTACTS
Contacts are synchronised perfectly well, no trouble there. (early days though, I will update this review if needed)
GOOGLEMAIL/GMAIL INTEGRATION - CALENDAR
Calendar items are synchronised perfectly well, no trouble there (again, early days, I will update this review if needed)
CABLE CONNECTION is a 'bespoke Blackberry' unfortunately. I do wish they had gone the route of my original HTC Magic, that used a very standard and universal 'mini USB'. Many times I found myself round a friends house in need of charging my phone, and I could easily use their Play Station 3 cable, or a camera cable in a spare drawer. Now if I want to transfer bulk files or give the phone a top up charge, I have to remember the cable.
MEMORY CARD as already mentioned is 2GB. I do feel this a little small for this day and age, although you can buy a 32GB MicroSD card for between £25-70 on ebay, or £50 from genuine online retailers such as:
The memory card can be installed by anyone with hands and eyes, you don't need to remove the battery or sim to do it, neither do you need tools.
CAMERA and VIDEO are surprising good quality, although they should be at 5MP and 640x480 respectively. The 'video light' is incredibly bright and unless you were born on the sun, the average person can't have it shine in their face at any less than 1 metre. On a slightly overcast day, pictures can look a little grainy when transferred to PC, but otherwise they are more than acceptable. The camera starts up within 3 seconds, combined with the side button dedicates to photos, and you can almost 'never miss a shot' (sorry for sounding like an advert!).
TAKING NOTES can be done with the 'memopad' program, this can be sync'd with many programs including Outlook, or a CSV file I believe.
APP's generally cost a little money, compared to Android for instance which are largely free (initially at least). There are very few 'free trials' or teasers that offer a stripped down version of what you want.
The COMPUTER SOFTWARE allows you to backup/restore your device and I would confidently say it's easier to use/more reliable than Nokia's attempts from a few years ago. Bluetooth can be used for wirelessly backing up I believe, with this software you can also organise sync'd files (music, docs, pictures) and applications (install and un-install). I found it very useful to remove duplicate contacts/calendar items when I accidentally set-up my google account twice.
MAPPING - It's nice to know where you are sometimes, and the Blackberry comes with Mapping software (and GPS). I have to admit, I'm not too impressed with rendering time of maps and will be downloading google maps soon. The HTC Magic did one thing well, and that was mapping and directions (although it would inconveniently need a restart quite often, near the end of it's life).
CONCLUSION - It's going to take a while to get used to a small screen (just over half the size of a big touchscreen phone like the HTC Desire/iPhone), but I'm already enjoying the lack of need to charge it. I can buy a spare battery if I want to (unlike the iPhone) and that would give me well over a week of medium use if needed. There are tiny details that makes you think the designers don't keep too up-to-date, such as the phone memory being in Bytes units. That was fine 5 or 10 years ago, but now the phone shows I have 224,000,000,000 Bytes, really it should be in MB (224MB's) or GB (0.224GB). A silly observation, but had someone at Blackberry been given the phone for a week, they could have resolved minor issues such as this.
I do wonder how I'm going to deal with the Gmail 'one way' issue, but with any luck they will resolve this.
Finally, I received and fully charged this phone on Tuesday early afternoon. It's now Friday afternoon and it's showing 15% battery remaining - THAT is why I changed phones.
SO NOW, FOR THE PERSONAL BLURB I WARNED YOU ABOUT!
I got bored of being so heavily dependant on charging my HTC phone every night, so it was time for a change. I must admit that I hadn't considered a Blackberry, until a friend asked me for advice (I'm slightly known as a biker/geek). They said, "I don't want; a phone for playing games, may be the occasional picture. I DO want ; good battery life, texting, emailing, phoning and may be the social rubbish we're all pressured to do in a sheep-like manor".
As I was thinking of a new phone anyway and had done plenty of research (due to being off work because of a leg operation), I initially suggested either an iPhone, HTC or even one of the turnaround companies such as Samsung or Sony-Ericsson. The latter have been making some very good iPhone wannabees at a reasonable price, such as the Samsung Galaxy S II (A listed with www.pcpro.co.uk) . Surprise surprise, they had an iPhone (3rd Gen) and were sick of being dependant on that electricity stuff for charging it...every night. I said the iPhone 4 was better, but they weren't convinced that it was 'better enough'. Then I suggested a Blackberry. A few moments later I thought, "hang on, I'm in the same boat as them and want exactly the same things!".
So now I'm the partially proud owner of a 9780, a non-touch screen phone - my first for 2 years. Why? Good question - it's mainly because of the incredible battery life, also because of price, as I was paying £300 cash to Amazon (via a 0% credit card!). I was a click away from buying an iPhone 4 32GB for £600'ish a number of times, but my wallet cried out, "why man! why!?!?". It wasn't that important to have the top phone of the current decade, or to be content to charge it every day (or every other day). More to the point - SIX HUNDRED POUNDS, anyone reading this can probably think of another use of that kind of money, or at least half of it, as in my case. £300 gets a flight away for a weekend, or pays for petrol for a month or two, or have several very enjoyable drunken evenings with friends. Of course there will be some iPhone 'wanters' that don't know the concept of money yet, as they're at school - that wonderful marketing machine will force their parents to buy it for them. How sweet of it, once there was a time when just one parent can work, but now both have to to keep up with advertised indulgence....sorry, I'm off topic.
So that's the phone taken care of, but you may wonder why I bought the phone instead of tying myself to a 2 year contract (yet again). Well, here's the options my friend:
A) Buy a phone for £300, get a "SIM Only contract" for 12 months (300mins, 3000 texts, +internet), at £10 per month = in total costing 300 + (24 x 10 = 240) = £540
B) Get a contract for £30 per month for a £300 phone plus the type of tarrif as above'ish = 30 x 24 = £720.
OK, so only £180 saving, but out of interest, if your phone goes pop during that 2nd year, they are not going to give you another phone. Also the warranty on your phone is only for the 1st year, so unless you have phone insurance of some kind, in both cases you'll have to buy a new phone. To be honest, I mainly don't like being in a contract for 2 years, especially if there's no actually financial benefit. Even in the best case you can save £80, when really, as you're effectively investing in that mobile network for 2 years, they should give us more surely?
Summary: If you want a phone that doesn't try too hard to entertain you and only wants to help,this is it!
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