New Phone

After 2 years of solid service, my trusty LG Vortex was betrayed by my own butter fingers; a 4 foot drop was all that was needed to ruin the old man. I can still use WiFi, take photos and make calls, but everyone else just hears mangled audio and I hear nothing. Ah well…

LG Vortex

I’ve been hounded by everyone on Earth, it seems, to get an iPhone, but my aversion to the newest and shiniest kept me from diving in. Might as well, since this whole Apple Device ID hack came to light. My boss at the night job is rubbing it in to everyone with iPhones “well, you know something like this would never happen on a BlackBerry. Hooaugh, hooaugh, hooagh, hooagh!” … Yes, Brian, that’s really how you laugh.

But since he’s stuck to one brand for ages and BlackBerry does have a reputation for security (plus it’s easier to tie into our email and send encrypted messages), I went with his recommendation and bought a 9930.

First impression

The GPS is exceptionally accurate, quick to lock on (with network location on) and both Google Maps and BB Maps work well. BB Maps is definitely simpler and has a nifty speedometer, which kept my attention as I walked a brisk 5mph to catch the train this morning, and almost fell off the platform (now I know how those accidents happen).

The camera, despite the 5 megapixel claim to the contrary, is still rubbish on closeup photos (even with settings tweaking) as seen above when I took a pic of the old phone with it. Compare that with the one taken with the Vortex of the BB at an even closer distance.

I think I’ll still keep my Vortex around for closeups.

The keyboard, which is very, very, very nice still took some getting used to. But the experience it makes when sending an email, and sounding coherent and professional, is exceptional. Even on a touch phone, I don’t see why it’s so hard to type “you” instead of “u”, but I guess it’s just not fashionable compared to spewing Txtspeak.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the vibrant Google Play ecosystem for apps, even though I only have ten installed, but the “App World” on BlackBerry feels really sparse by comparison. Also, having to restart the phone after app install and uninstall is a terrible bore. I’ve only had to do that with one app on the Vortex, which is running Android 2.2. BB OS 7 on the 9930 takes a loooong time to restart, with a minute being normal after app install/uninstall and it took a full 4 minutes after an OS update to 7.1.

BB gets around that by making an ordinary shutdown, not really shut the phone down. I.E. It puts it into something like a sleep mode. To “fully” shutdown the phone, you first “fake” shutdown (hold down power or use the shutdown app) and then pull the battery. And that’s a bit silly. There’s an app available to “fully” shutdown the phone, but I don’t know why RIM can’t just can’t include it in an OS update.

Everything else was all hunky dory, until I took a gander at the manual. Specifically, page 29 :

Carrying solutions, including RIM approved carrying solutions and carrying solutions not approved by RIM, that do not come equipped with an integrated belt clip SHOULD NOT be worn or carried on the body.

Oh, brilliant. Now I can get a tumor in half the time as my old phone. So I need to get a different clip instead of the nifty “clip-free” case that came with the phone or wear a helmet, vest and underwear made of Depleted Uranium.

The extra transmission power and receive sensitivity does make a difference in call quality though. Everyone I’ve spoken to so far says, my voice is much clearer than before. I get more bars in the kitchen and bathroom (not that I use the phone there) and there were no interruptions even in the elevator.

Verdict: It’s… different

I’m not quite sure whether I’m going to be as enthusiastic about it as my boss, but then again, I’ve never been all that Gung Ho about phones to begin with. In my view, the prime function of technology is to be functional. All else, including aesthetics, can be extra, provided they add to functionality and not hinder it. The 9930 is very good phone, but a bit too expensive for what it really is: A secure mobile computer with a few bells and whistles that also happen to be able to make calls.

The phone is capable of both CDMA and GSM technology, which is excellent if you want to travel outside the country or feel like swapping carriers. Both networks can be on standby, so you should be able to receive a call on either one. You can switch networks by going into Options (wrench/spanner icon) > Networks and Connections > Mobile Network and selecting the “Network Technology”.

1XEV is CDMA, in my case Verizon, and of course GSM/UMTS is for AT&T, T-Mobile et al.

If you’re on Verizon, you can login or register at, and go to My Verizon > Activate or Switch Device and follow the instructions. The required IMEI number can be obtained by going into Options > Device > Device Status Information and scrolling down. I had to enter the MEID (hex) version with no spaces since the others didn’t seem to work on the site.

To make sure GPS works, go into Options > Device > Location Settings and set “Location Services” to “Location On”. Or if you’re worried about privacy, then set it to E911 Only so at least the emergency services will be able to track you in case you fall off a cliff or get lost in the woods or something.

Side note: Verizon still sucks

Verizon is, as usual is the biggest annoyance. They decided to push VZ Navigator and a bunch of other junk apps on the phone as soon as it was activated. Deleting them (Options > Device > Advanced System Settings > Service Book, and pressing the Menu key (the BB logo button on the phone) > Delete) only gets rid of them temporarily. After the next restart or sometimes after an hour or so, the apps will find themselves back on the phone. And I bought this phone unlocked, not from Verizon, so they really have no right to do this to my property.

Worse yet, I’m sure these are being pushed over 3G and not my WiFi, so it may be eating into my data plan.

I feel like filing a FCC complaint.

This reminds me of something a friend told me in Sri Lanka. “Americans don’t seem to understand the concept of owning a phone”. You see, in the rest of the world, when you go to the shop and buy a phone, it’s really yours. I.E. You pop in a SIM for a carrier of your choice and chat away. Get bored of the carrier or the number? Switch the SIM to something else and change numbers just like that.

I don’t know if this is unique to Sri Lankans, but the island folks take this to the extreme as even people with little means seem to have two or three numbers and in some cases, two or three cellphones.

My aunt has four. Seriously.

Now there’s no freedom like that here. You’re not only a slave to a contract,  you have to quietly accept whatever is being pushed on you without your consent. Try that there and watch out for the pitchforks and torches. Which, unlike here where it’s just a saying, they really do have pitchforks and torches.

6 thoughts on “New Phone

  1. I’ve heard news of some of the telecom pricing layouts in countries outside the United States, and my jaw hits the floor. There’s actually competition; there are actually a lot of companies vying for customers; the companies actually try to innovate to gain an edge over the others; and like you said, customers actually own their equipment.

    Anyone who says the US telecommunications industry is a world leader is either joking or trying to sell you something. LIKE A PHONE THAT ISN’T YOURS.

    • Yeah, it’s shocking, but you really don’t see it until you step outside or hear it first hand from someone who has. To us, this burden is normal. And it shouldn’t be.

      But see, I think people still know in the back of their minds that it’s a rip-off, but the allure of the newest shiny gadget fades away those shadows of doubt. It’s technological ADHD.

  2. I hate all the carriers for this reason. I won’t buy a tablet for this reason – I refuse to pay even more to one of these damn carriers to make the tablet worth the cost, and with Wi-Fi what it is, without the carrier service, a tablet is a crippled mobile device. Anyway, you’ve written the most compelling post for Blackberry I’ve read yet, not that I plan on buying one… Truthfully didn’t even know they are still making them! Lol

    • Oh my, I think then BlackBerry should send me a whole bunch of free apps as a reward… if anything I made one more person realise they’re still being made ;)
      Or at least make my favorite Android app, Pulse, available in the App World.

      Haha, that’s so true about tablets!

      But some OEMs are starting to figure this out and are already releasing cheaper Android tablets with SIMs (some cases dual SIM, so you can have two lines). Of course, most are rubbish, hence the cheap price, but they should improve over time. I don’t think the desktop will go the way of the dinosaur any time soon (as they predicted with the rise of the laptop), but I do picture a mobile capable tablet in many homes of the future… and more radio transmissions.

      Cancer epidemic, here we come!

      • The desktop is not going anywhere (hopefully) ever, as some things just require a ton of horsepower and a big screen! lol I occasionally create musical scores with Sibelius – not fun without the juice to run it and a big screen to see what you’re doing. Netflix is a lot better on an iMac than an iPhone…

        But yes, tablets will be ubiquitous very soon – hopefully without any rise in cancer rates… Hopefully!

  3. Pingback: New Phone II | This page intentionally left ugly

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