Spare a thought for the poor people still using BlackBerries
Where else can I get a physical keypad though
BlackBerries. You probably had one in school, or knew people who did. Maybe you had one when you were the US Secretary of State. I had a Curve 8520 as my first phone, and loved the little brick. I remember as sixth form drew to a close and people’s contracts ran out, the slow shift over to iPhones and Androids and Windows Phones and whatever else. I remember deleting my BBM contacts one-by-one, until one day there were none. I held strong though.
Then disaster struck.
Left adrift, it was time for me to choose a new phone. What would I go for? Then it happened. RIM was now BlackBerry Ltd and their latest offering was the BlackBerry Classic – a throwback to the very phone I’d been using until a week ago. Perfect, I thought. It’ll slip straight on like a glove, and I’ll still have what is (for me) the most important component of a phone – an actual honest-to-God clickable keypad. Fuck touchpad keypads and everyone who likes them.
A 24-month contract thus taken out, I waited eagerly for the phone to arrive. I was amazed – it was about twice as big as the 8520 and all manner of shiny and glassy. For a month, I feared to drop it. While the 8520 was indestructible, this device seemed like it would shatter into a thousand pieces if I so much as looked at it funny.
The honeymoon period was sweet indeed. I had a touchscreen and a web browser that actually worked on my phone for the first time. The camera was leaps and bounds ahead of my old one. I could painlessly sync up my Facebook account and both my uni and personal email addresses, filling my contacts and calendar with content in one fell swoop. The BlackBerry Hub put messages from all different social media in one easy-to-use place. In short, it was everything I wanted in a phone.
Sure, the BlackBerry app ecosystem was non-existent, and the much-touted Android app emulation was far more miss than hit. I didn’t care, I wasn’t too bothered with apps. The Classic did what I needed and it did it well, and securely. Plus Tinder was one of the few Android hits, so that was nice.
Then things started to change. An OS update restructured the convenient drop-down settings menu. Gone was the on/off WiFi toggle button – now I have to bring down the menu and go through three menus to find it, and even then it only actually turns the WiFi off when it feels like it. More bizarrely missing is the torch button, which for the life of me I can’t find anywhere else. I assume the update didn’t also dissolve the LED, so it must still be there. It’s just unreachable, cold and alone like the Spirit rover on Mars.
Okay, I thought. Fine. I can get used to this. No biggie.
Then I noticed I now had two Amazon Appstore icons (how you acquire emulated Android apps). Neither was deletable, and now I get constant notifications from both about updates being available for apps I have installed, despite the fact I uninstalled them months ago. It was annoying enough already without having to be doubled.
The Facebook app started playing up regularly. One day, a BlackBerry AppWorld notification popped up: “Facebook update available”. Cool, I thought naively. Things are looking up.
With no warning, the update deleted my Facebook app, replacing the icon with a link to the dreadful browser version. There was no way to roll-back. Then I realised that it had wiped my synced contacts and calendar events. I realised the latter when I missed something semi-important.
I looked it up and found BlackBerry trying to spin this as an “updated web-based Facebook app”, with no mention of the update gutting your phone. Fuckers.
I have an update waiting for WhatsApp now. I suspect it will do the same to that app, and I’m putting it off as long as the app continues working: I have people I’m only in touch with through WhatsApp.
I’m not sure what’s next for my Classic now. Maybe the next OS update can unexpectedly lock my timezone to the UTC+12 one my phone keeps jumping to in order to “improve” the user experience, provided those users are currently in Eniwetok. Maybe it’ll add random deafening screams to phone calls I make, or perhaps even heat the battery up to 100°C when I least expect it in order to keep me on my toes.
Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be shit. Maybe it’s time to cut my losses and get a Nokia E70. Or a Priv.