I am looking for a dumb phone please…

I bought the new Blackberry Q 10 last month. You don’t have to be so surprised, yes they still do make and sell Blackberry phones, and I am not that rare individual who still wants or owns one. I am a loyalist, almost monogamous to this brand, and didn’t fall prey to the seduction of the ‘touch me anywhere’ Apple, or a ‘turn me on by looking at me’ Samsung.

Back in the day, when I was married to a Nokia, I considered divorce only for a very legitimate reason. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it a divorce, more an Annulment (I see some FRIENDS fans grinning), because the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was a revolutionary way for me to be in touch with friends and family across the world.

The journey had begun with a curve which had a track ball, remember those things? Then we moved on to bigger and BOLDer things, larger keypads, track pads, the ever annoying pre-historic rebooting by taking out the battery. Only when I found a white Bold 4 in my hands did I realise two things:

A Blackberry phone is not a matter of researching the best model, but the luck of the draw. Even if you do your best research, your individual handset could be accompanied by a curse or be possessed by the ghost of one of the many disgruntled users. The screen may flash, dance, move without being touched, almost like an electronic Ouija board to summon the dead. My particular handset had a weird malady; it would switch off the EDGE/3G while I was on a call. Be it a 4 or 30 minute call later, all messages from various ends would come flooding in. The battery life was bad, but when the software was upgraded, it worked all day. Odd for someone like RIM who are the first to make Smartphones.

A Newer model isn’t necessarily a better model. My Bold 2 worked extremely well, and this one had so many issues. But I still waited patiently for the Q10.

The Z10 that preceded the Q10 had got mixed reviews, it was an all touch phone, with the new Blackberry 10 software. Now this is where it gets tricky. If RIM have released the software with this phone, by the time the Q10 hit the market a few months later, there should have been plenty of awareness about the software. Instead, when I got the phone, its as if I was going to spy school with two dear friends who were guiding me about the handset in a classified manner. The first friend sat through coffee with me whilst I explored her Q10 handset, finding it complicated. Blackberry wanted you to swish from south to north and answer a call by swishing from centre to south. They wanted your fingers to become jelly because you obviously owned an iPod or iPad, where you swish left to right. It was their last desperate attempt to cling on to a market share which was dwindling because they didn’t keep up with the times.

Then came the arduous task of transferring data. The handset came in a tiny packaging, with no literature or mini cd which would act as navigation in the unknown land of the ‘10’ software. Thankfully my friend was a technical wizard who had figured out all the specifics and helped me make the most informed ‘phone purchase’ decision of my life. We used the lesser known, exclusive for ‘10’, Blackberry link software where my other tech savvy friend made the transfer. It was like our own clandestine project.

Once my new phone was up and running, the BBM made the announcement by default on my status message, ‘I have made the switch to Blackberry 10’. Cool, saves me the hassle, I thought, but as with every new technology, it took a few days to figure out certain things, which would have taken me weeks, but thanks to my friends, took much much less.

So how’s the Q10 experience?

I found the phone heating up while charging and also while using it for long calls. An alarming fact for an advanced piece of software and hardware in 2013.

Many functions are embedded, where you need to press and hold an icon to discover what else is available. Why those functions couldn’t just be listed in the menu key on the right amazes me.

The keypad and screen are the biggest assets, whilst the camera with its many filters and effects is of very sharp quality, but the function where you can choose a few frames before and after clicking a photo make it unique.

The search option has expanded to cover all the contents in your phone, so its easier to locate stuff across various applications.

Am still trying to figure out how to view properties of images, their size, why we don’t have access to the screen grabber app even though we have an inbuilt screen shot by pressing the keys on the right.

This handset gives you the option to restart without removing the battery in a straight forward manner. My brother had enlightened me about the earlier models where there was a short cut to do the same, but it was knowledge out of the secret archives from the Vatican, not known by most.

You open a screen and it stays open, you minimize it, the live feeds still continue. You can work on multiple screens spread over multiple pages, which gives it an edge over the iPhone and others. How this impacts your Data package, my phone bill is yet to reveal, the aesthetics and utility of it are of course, attractive.

The hub is the access to all your messages, text, sms, email, which is annoying. Why not have a dedicated email icon which shows a notification when you have a new email. Here you keep checking the hub when any new notification arises. There isn’t an option which lets you ‘delete from handheld and original inbox’ as was with previous models.

The pre-installed Facebook doesn’t show notifications, one has to manually open it and slide down for any updates.

The BBM keeps all chats in the main window, and no matter how many times you choose to keep the group chats separate from the individual ones, they get bunched up.

It is so difficult to select and copy, probably because I have large fingers and also this all touch interface doesn’t help. Try copying a number from a contact and pasting it in a chat. If someone figures it out, please let me know.

The phone automatically links Facebook profiles and you can see updates under your contact. The Facebook picture of the contact is linked and flashes on your phone, if not the BBM display picture. Another thing to figure out how to disable.

The battery life is excellent, lasting 12-15 hours, and still works while its on yellow and red alerts.

Final Verdict: Should you get this phone?

I would only recommend this phone if you want a keypad. . Is the ‘10’ software so revolutionary that it warrants a shift? No. I miss my old Bold 4 which was an easier experience. A few days after I bought the Q10 we heard that the BBM would be available as an app on iOS and Android. Great! Now what am I supposed to do with this phone which became a relic even before it turned a month old?

As a self confessed ‘phone addict’, a complaint by many family and friends, I am constantly using it to connect, express and communicate. If you think about it, what single item do you touch the most in your daily life? I guess answers could be varied here, but the mobile phone would probably be number 1 on many lists. It is like a family member, not like the grand dad Television, but the great grandson, who is young and evolves so frequently.

I have an APPLE enthusiast who owns every generation of EVERY item. He has been convincing me to change fruits for a long time, but I didn’t want to join the herd. Ever heard the joke, “Whatsapp is the poor man’s BBM?” Well now there are more people on the dreaded Whatsapp and I keep seeing names disappearing, sometimes even without a formal announcement, from my BBM list. I often loyally state that I will stick to the phone until I have even ONE person left on my list. Now with the BBM app soon becoming available to every mobile phone, I think my dramatic efforts will not be required.

I guess RIM had to use their trump card, the BBM as a way to ensure they are not wiped out clean from mobile phone history. If you cannot beat APPLE , SAMSUNG and NOKIA, just give all phone users the app that is the best chat software the world has seen, and that’s one argument I refuse to lose. It will be a paid app like Whatsapp and will probably make RIM a lot more money with a lot less flack.

We live in a world where we are judged by what technology we use, so imagine my amusement when I proudly say, ‘See my new phone!’ which is followed by a quizzical ‘What’s that? The Crackberry?!’

I BOLDly went where no man had gone and now I may be believing in the age old saying, “An APPLE a day keeps the doctor away”. But nothing will make me part with my NOKIA N95 8GB which still works brilliantly, has an excellent video camera and though at its time was the smartest phone, is now my reliable not-so-bright phone.

It is a dependable second phone which will work without being configured to any email or iTunes account, just pop your sim card in and voila! I seriously think the time is not far when we’ll prefer an ‘sms and phone call only’ phone. Ok that is my ‘Phon-o-holics Anonymous’ group meeting talking, not me!

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