The Blackberry Diary: Initial impressions

by Ben Smith on 14th February 2010

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I did it. I bought a Blackberry. My first one…

A 9700 Bold from Three. I’ll get to a full review and explanation why the Nokia’s most recent effort – the E72 – didn’t attract me back in due course, but after 2 weeks of use there’s a couple of features that have really impressed.

And they’re not ones I see mentioned frequently…

It knows when its in its case! It comes with a case… a nice leather one, but so what? So do plenty of handsets. But this is an intelligent case. Well, not actually intelligent, but it has a magnet in. And when the Bold goes into the case it senses this, locks the keyboard and can switch ringer modes. Genius… I have mine set only to ring in the case, switching to silent (read ‘non-colleague irritating’) when it’s just on my desk.

Cradles are awesome! The iPhone has a cradle and that’s handy, but it’s little more than a desk-stand. The Bold’s is neater – electrical contacts are shaped into the corners of the device so there’s no connector to seat the phone on -  it’s easier to drop the handset in.  However, the combination of the cradle and ‘bedside mode‘ is the really excellent… The Bold can switch into ‘bedside mode’ when plugged into a charger – dimming screen, cancelling LED alerts and showing a clock-face – but in tandem with a cradle it’s finally a worthy bedside alarm clock replacement.

In-line spell check. Everywhere! This feels so natural it’s hard to understand why other manufacturers haven’t adopted it… In any text field spelling is checked against an internal dictionary and errors are underlined in red – just as they are in most desktop word-processors. Clicking offers the expected suggestions and option to add new words to the dictionary which is doubly convenient as it operates handset-wide. No more stupid typos in text messages for me!

There are – of course – a few niggles and switching from a ‘normal’ smartphone requires you to learn the ‘Blackberry way’ (of which more later), but whilst it’s not perfect these refinements really do make daily use a pleasure… and there’s not many phones I’ve said that about recently.

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