BlackBerry Curve on my desk
Alright…so after using a BlackBerry Curve 8320 for three months or so, here’s my brand-agnostic perspective on why the BlackBerry, just like most anything hip, is entirely overrated. The BlackBerry,simply put, is being put on a pedestal. I’ll spare everyone my usual elaborately exhaustive emotional walkthrough. Instead, for once, I’ll just have a nice organized list of ten reasons I don’t like my BlackBerry.

1) BlackBerry email, namely the enterprise activation, is a real pain in the ass.
The process is entirely frustrating. To use an engineering term, there are simply too many points of failure. Here’s how it works: the BlackBerry Enterprise activation process consists of the BlackBerry device (for example your Curve) sending out an email to your BlackBerry-enabled email address. If all goes well, your BlackBerry-enabled email account will receive this activation email. Once it receives it, the account syncs up with your device and installs various “service books”.

In theory, all should be well. You send out that activation and BAM, you’re up and running. However, from my experience, enterprise activation can be hell. There are absolutely too many points of failure, too many parts to check in troubleshooting. To my knowledge, BlackBerry email service is actually a service that is installed (usually) on top of Microsoft Exchange. The BlackBerry service then communicates with RIM’s BlackBerry servers. When your activation fails, it could be due to a frustrating amount of factors. It could be that your BlackBerry server isn’t working. It could be because your Exchange account is interfering with the activation emails. It could be because your phone isn’t working the way it should.So when things do go wrong, as they usually do, you have to call up technical support. I spent an entire afternoon setting up my BlackBerry account with a very nice woman who was handling a lot of the workload. Apparently her co-workers and bosses weren’t there on the weekend. Anyway, she ended up having to check with an engineer on the status of the BlackBerry service as well as the Exchange account. After hours of that, we had to call RIM themselves to check on their network status. In essence, there was a lot of bullshit.With Windows Mobile, it is very simple. To set up Activesync (Microsoft’s push email), all you do is type in your server, domain name, user name, and password. It will attempt to connect to your Exchange account, and that’s that. It’s practically as simple as logging onto a website. In my experience, Activesync wins over BlackBerry when it comes to email setup.

2) BlackBerry’s media capabilities are nothing to write home about.
Sure, the BlackBerry Curve has a 3.5mm mini-jack. But frankly, the media software sucks. It’s nothing special. Very run of the mill. I was disappointed to see that there really isn’t a “repeat track” function. I’m a nut when it comes to finding a new favorite song and I will listen to it probably a hundred times before I start to diversify again. In this aspect, they’re essentially tied with Windows Mobile. Maybe a touch lower on the scale.

3) BlackBerry’s homescreen is not very useful.
On Windows Mobile the homescreen is very customizable. Most importantly to me though, was the ability to have a five day weather forecast visible at a glance. I’m aware that there are themes and whatnot, but the fact is that they’re not very flexible. In fact, you have to purchase different themes according to how you want the icons laid out. Absolutely unacceptable.

4) BlackBerry’s call log is too short.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on my Treo 750, but I could’ve sworn that the call log on it was much longer than what’s on the BlackBerry. I tried to look for an option to sethow farback I want the call logs to go but couldn’t find it. I personally think that it ought to be practically unlimited, considering the amount of memory that is available on mobile devices nowadays.

5) BlackBerry’s PIM features are unimpressive.
To be frank, the Calendar program for the BlackBerry is crap. It looks terrible, and it’s somehow difficult to use. Well, not so much difficult as it is not a pleasure to use. The Address Book program is lackluster. The Task program is also not very useful. It really ought to be more like the Windows Mobile one: a checklist style program. And the Memo Pad is a real shame. It doesn’t make much sense. I want to quickly jot something down in a memo pad, and I’ve got to hit the menu button, scroll to New, and then create a new item. It just doesn’t feel very intuitive.

6) BlackBerry’s email sorting doesn’t make sense. And the “more” function doesn’t work.
I just don’t like having them sorted by the date received, as opposed to the date that it was sent. When I come out of the subway, I get a bunch of messages with the same timestamp and I think, what a coincidence! It’s misleading, and I think that they really ought to let you choose how to sort messages. On Windows Mobile, if I remember correctly, I get to choose. And if I’m wrong, I do remember that it’s sorted by time sent, not time received. Also, oftentimes I will get a truncated message delivered to my BlackBerry. And due to HTML being a large part of it, I can’t read the entire message. I choose “More” from the menu, and it just doesn’t download the rest of the message. If you use the Facebook application, it can be terribly frustrating if you’ve ever had anyone send you a long message. You can’t read it until you hop online.

7) BlackBerry doesn’t support HTML email.
The lack of HTML email is a huge turn off. Most of my newsletters are sent by HTML email. When I receive them, I’ve got to use my eyes and filter out the HTML code to read only the text. You would think that RIM would have the sense to at least strip out the HTML if they don’t support HTML email.

8 ) BlackBerry’s SMS is no good.
For SMS, it’s not truly threaded. It’s some kind of pseudo-thread. On occasion it’ll get out of sync. I don’t feel like examining precisely what happens, so we’ll just leave it at that. Windows Mobile 6.1 now has true threading. Plus, WM6 has color to help readability.

9) BlackBerry’s UI is antiquated.
Overall, my biggest beef is that the UI feels like something out of the 90s. I haven’t done any research at all, so for all I know it could’ve been unchanged since it’s inception. But really, what’s with the shitty fonts?

10) BlackBerry’s Voice Dialing sucks.
I prefer Microsoft’s Voice Command. It just works better.

So there it is, ten reasons why BlackBerry sucks. I’m an agnostic gadget freak, so I go wherever the best devices are. I would’ve gladly stuck with my AT&T Treo 750 for the 3G speeds. However, the BlackBerry Curve does do some things better. Namely, it’s speedier. Everything is much more responsive than my Treo. Making and hanging up calls doesn’t take five seconds.

Overall, I would have to say that BlackBerrys are really for those who can take advantage of PIN messaging and have a high volume of text-based emailing/text messaging. The UI is stripped down to be efficient and functional. The form factor is great and the keyboard’s wonderful to use. But all in all, it is, in my eyes, still primarily for those who pretty much live off text-based communications. For an average user, a snappy Windows Mobile device will not only cost you less in terms of monthly charges (you have to pay for BlackBerry service on top of an Exchange account), it will probably be more of a pleasure to use.