The DEFINITIVE Phone Review!

Obviously the big news this week is the iPhone 4. So, without further ado, let me review … the Blackberry Curve 8530!

Basically, I was getting sick of T-Mobile and, worse, the absolutely horrendous G1, and needed to get something. I fully expect to be back on the Smartphone side within a year, so I up and got the cheapest contract I could (1 year) on the best carrier (Verizon) with the best phone that does what I need (e-mail, and minimal browsing).

Here’s what I have discovered, in no particular order.

First, the Blackberry is so undiscoverable and non-intuitive, I have no idea how it ever caught on. Every action is buried under a single ‘magic’ button, with no indication at all what you’re going to get when you hit it. Options? Forward email? About? Just doesn’t make sense.

The keyboard shortcuts are so unexpected that there are literally thousands of pages out there that do nothing else but recount all these hotkeys – which are totally necessary because without them, the phone is basically unusable.

The browser is bad. No, “bad” is the wrong word. Remember cowboy movies from the 40s where everyone good is dressed in white and everyone bad is in dressed in black, and you knew exactly who was really bad based on how much black they were wearing? Now imagine in the middle of the movie, all the people dressed COMPLETELY in black got together in some mountain cave to recount all their evil deeds. The MC of said gathering would be EXTRA bad; he’d likely be a fat banker of some kind, have a mustache and a monocle and fold his hands together when he talked, a la Mr. Burns. Now imagine you got all those mustached bankers together, from all the evil caves in all the world for some networking event in Transylvania. The owner of the castle where they were having their hor d’oeuvres and recounting how much they had swindled out of grandmothers and orphans would be some ULTRA bad guy, potentially even half vampire or something equally evil. Now imagine that guy fucked the devil and they had a baby. And imagine THAT baby fucked Hitler, and THEY had a baby.

That child, roughly speaking, is very close to being NEARLY as FUCKING HORRIBLE AS THE BROWSER ON THE BLACKBERRY CURVE IS.

I say this with no exaggeration whatsoever, I have had a worse browsing experience in the past week than I did in 1992, when all I knew how to use was gopher on AIX 3.2. I have no idea what RIM was thinking, but the quality of the display, the rendering speed, the download speed and the “support” for anything beyond reading a pure text page on your local machine is so bad, I don’t know why you would even bother. In fact, when I accidentally click a link in email, and it opens the abortion they call a browser, it makes me want fly to Ontario and just start punching everyone I see there in the face for being located in the same city as the people who designed this thing. Though, candidly, it’s probably a bit generous to even say “opens” since all the “browser” really does it show me the goddamn loading screen for five fucking minutes. And, Opera Mini, the “solution” is even worse – because all I get to do is LOOK at a screenshot of what may or may not be a web page – it’s so slow, and zooming is so weak as a UI metaphor, why even bother. 

Apps – yee-ikes. Yeah, there are some apps out there. But they are so far behind everyone else in the world, it’s a joke to try and compare them. My browsing experience on the phone or on the Web looking for some simple solutions (a voice recorder, a stop watch, etc) was miserable. I found what I was looking for, but there were so many garbage apps, so many projects that haven’t been updated in years, and so few ratings (to help me figure out which were real and which weren’t) that I wish I hadn’t started looking in the first place.

And with all that bile, it is the single greatest email tool ever created. How and why Outlook and/or the iPhone don’t use these metaphors are beyond me. For those that are unfamiliar -

  • U = next unread
  • Delete key = delete (is there a way to go to next unread message?)
  • R = reply
  • L = reply all
  • F = forward

I can navigate through an unlimited amount of mail as fast as I can mow down zombies in an FPS. For this purpose, and this purpose alone, it is AWESOME. For everything else, let me tell you, do NOT look into the abyss -- they don’t have enough Bactine in the world to heal your wounds after coming back.