Phone dilemma

Critique
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Joined: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10.37
Location: Suffolk

Good people of Metropol, I have reached a dilemma. My current BlackBerry has decided that it no longer wishes for the 'A' key to function at all, and that it isn't all that keen on some of the others working, although the second issue is more sporadic. My current contract lasts but a few months (July, although I can upgrade early in June).

Therefore, I am unsure as of what to do. Do I just leave it, and buy the iPhone 4S I've been looking at, or is there a fix for this, or should I get it sent off and repaired (although that doesn't seem viable, as I here of month-long wait times for a fix).

I await your opinions.
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cdd
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My opinion is that this is precisely the sort of reason why getting a phone contract is a bad idea.

Not helpful, but there you go...
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Gavin Scott
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You're definitely not going to get another Blackberry though, right?

RIM Abandons the consumer market, as bad news keeps coming

But then

You misunderstood - we're NOT leaving the consumer market

Urgh. They were shit anyway, now they're shit and confused.

If a repair is free, send it off and get it done. At least you'll have resale value in your handset. Use an old handset in the meantime.

I have a bigger quandary.

I got a (30 day postponed activation) iPhone 4S from Three. £49 upfront, £34 per month for the One plan.

I've got the handset home, un-boxed it, but discovered that I have only two or one bars of signal on the ground floor of my flat - no signal at all in the basement where my bedroom is. I have another bedroom on the ground floor - signal isn't much better there.

I bought this in-store. Wondering if I can return it on the basis of "failure to provide reasonable service", or to swallow the poor 3G downstairs (I seldom use the phone downstairs anyway) on the strength of the great data deal and reasonable signal when out and about. I currently pay £36/month for 500MB, and a further £10 for O2 SIM for iPad, 1GB. The One plans costs less than my existing phone, and will allow unlimited tethering for my iPad.

Would they accept an un-boxed phone back? They'd have to, I'm guessing.

My hope is also that when the phone activates, the signal may increase when an actual call comes through, rather than when its idling.

Hmm...

I still think its a great deal.
Critique
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Joined: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10.37
Location: Suffolk

I'm definitely not getting another BlackBerry. God, they're so unstable, and buggy, and the App stores are so inferior to everything else... I'm going to do a software update on it, as there shouldn't be anything wrong, hardware-wise, and knowing BlackBerries, it probably will be something like the OS getting bored.

Whilst Three have just taken the offer away, and I'm hoping I can charm someone to let me have it (or get O2 to match it, which is unlikely), they were doing no upfront cost for a 4S, at £30 a month, with Unlimited texts and 500 minutes.

And, of course, they're 'the nations best iPhone network'.
Critique
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Joined: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10.37
Location: Suffolk

And of course, the BlackBerry has a Software update available. 5.0.0.681... And, as I've not bricked it this time, I can back-up first.

EDIT: Oh, and the thing took it upon itself to restart the moment the computer sensed it. Now for a fifteen minute wait whilst it turns on. Fantastic.

EDIT 2: And BlackBerry device manager has gone from 'There is an update available for your device', to 'A required component is not installed. It will be installed now', and then to 'Failed to connect to device. It is restarting', and finally, 'System restart required'.
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Gavin Scott
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Critique wrote:I'm definitely not getting another BlackBerry. God, they're so unstable, and buggy, and the App stores are so inferior to everything else... I'm going to do a software update on it, as there shouldn't be anything wrong, hardware-wise, and knowing BlackBerries, it probably will be something like the OS getting bored.

Whilst Three have just taken the offer away, and I'm hoping I can charm someone to let me have it (or get O2 to match it, which is unlikely), they were doing no upfront cost for a 4S, at £30 a month, with Unlimited texts and 500 minutes.

And, of course, they're 'the nations best iPhone network'.
Vodafone were disappointingly poor on their deal. Before I signed, I walked from the Three store to the Vodafone one to chat to them about what they could do - bearing in mind I'd accumulated "customer points" (the saleswoman called them) for being an existing subscriber.

I was pretty horrified to then hear her parrot back the same rates offered on their website as if they were doing me a favour. I pointed this out and she shrugged. I mean, she wasn't being rude, it was more resignation that she can only give me "what the computer says".

She said I should go and get the paperwork from Three and come back and see if her manager would authorise a match. I told her that was, actually, pretty insulting to a subscriber of many a year, and on that basis alone they really didn't deserve my regular income.

So, Vodafone - EPIC FAIL from you, and I think you might have lost me for good. Even if the Three deal falls over on the slight technicality of not being able to use it, I'll look to Orange/T-Mobile instead.
Critique
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Ah, I see. 3 do tend to actually be competitive, which is always a pleasant surprise.

However, despite the fact that, for various reasons, I've had 4 phones on 1 account for O2, at one stage, at least, I doubt I'll get little leeway...

And almost an hour after saying 'I'll update the thing', the update process has finally begun. Lots of scary white screens that show graphics of Ancient looking BlackBerries next to a computer. And the thing just shut off and on. I had a heart attack. Turns out it wanted the boot ROM.
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WillPS
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I rather like my BlackBerry, I must say. I think the best thing they could do going forward would be to get Android app support on their consumer phones.

That said, I wouldn't get the new curve as it has an absolutely pathetic battery.
Image
Critique
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That BlackBerry device pictured doesn't look particularly nice... The OS looks interesting, but the overall design...

I currently have a BlackBerry Curve 8520, which is indeed, quite old. I came with OS 4.6, which is a very old a operating system! Why on earth is the next OS BlackBerry 10, by the way? Aren't they currently with OS 7?

In terms of the iPhone being just as bad for OS updates. I've certainly never experienced this with my iPad, especially since OTA updates are now available. I did, however, upgrade somebody's iPhone once, and for some reason, it didn't work, and we had to go into recovery mode to restore it and fix it. In general, though, I would say it's BlackBerry device manager which is the problem. With, say, iTunes, for example, you'd hit download, it would download, and then you'd install it, all from iTunes. The same would presumably go for things like Samsung Kies, for the Galaxy S2.

However, for the BlackBerry, it was 'Downloading now' and then 'Another component is required, downloading now', which, in turn, made the device restart. It then said 'Disconnect your device, close all other BlackBerry windows (as in, the OS upgrader was a different program, and having Desktop manager open at the same time was a no-go), before 'Reconnect your device', where it backed it up, informed me that it could take more than an hour, when it actually took around 20 minutes, and actually updated.

I had a play with an iPhone and an S2 earlier this morning, when I popped into town. The S2 is quite nice, but overall, whilst some say iOS is stale, iOS looked nicer, and was less gimmicky than the S2, with Live wallpapers, etc. Also, iOS seems to have better standards for apps. Okay, some duffs get through, but with Android, there are quite a few poor apps that don't work very well at all. On top of this, I don't think you're limited to the Android Market, I mean, Google Play, for app downloads.
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cdd
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Everyone I know with a blackberry cites as its (implictly, only) great advantage that you can "BBM your friends. BBM is FREE!!!!!! And it's like chat instead of messages going back and forth!".

Errrr, wow.

For a start, mobile phone providers practically GIVE away SMS messages these days (admitedly this is partially a result of things like BBM, and the absurdity of charging the equivelant of several hundred pounds for data, but still, the status quo is what actually matters), and SMS messages aren't reliant on you having some stupid data connection which invariably comes and goes with the breeze because data in this country is such a pile of wank BUT THAT'S A TOPIC FOR ANOTHER DAY.

Secondly, hardly anyone uses a blackberry any more, so the average person's BBM list will have about 10 people in it. "Oh but you can BUZZ people with it!" Big fucking deal.

Thirdly, if blackberries represent text messages in a shit way that makes them feel crap to use compared to BBMs, that's a limitation of the bloody device rather than the protocol. Probably an intentional limitation since it's in their interest for BBM to appear superior.

And as well as that, there's some bollocks about having to change your PIN when you get a new phone, and not being able to change it before.....

Oh, and finally, it's not even bloody free since you have to pay your carrier an extra £5 a month or whatever for the BlackBerry Service which is the only way to send/receive BBMs as well as instant email on a blackberry (why on earth their stupid ancient system is of the slightest use to anyone is a mystery to me - push email is available via other, carrier-independent technology and has been for about 5 years now, starting with MS ActiveSync).

Anyone who owns a BlackBerry for any reason other than the keyboard seriously needs their head examining. And I think touchscreen devices have got good enough that the keyboard isn't even a winning argument any more - even BB themselves are ditching that form factor.

Blackberry DESERVE to die a nasty death into oblivion after picking consumers' pockets for years with their absurd charges and commissions and carrier deals and attempts to lock people in to their devices. Their enter technological model is a legacy of the past and they are clinging on to it simply because there exist in the world suckers prepared to pay for their shit.

</rant>.
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BBC LDN
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It's coming, in October, with the BlackBerry London. Apparently.

Image
That's a bit out of date - both BB10 and the industrial design previewed on the London concept above, and the Porsche Design P'9981 by BlackBerry, have been refined since then. Here's a more up to date image from February:

Image


Right, I'm terribly sorry to hijack this thread with such a long diatribe, but this kind of thing pisses me off. The way that speaks about BlackBerry tells me that he has a lot of love for it - which is great; every platform needs its evangelists. But I fear some rose-tinted spectacles are in use here, and I think a shot of objectivity is needed to balance this weird perception that the Evil Media are picking on poor ickle BwackBewwy.

If this doesn't interest you in any way, please scroll past.

They NEVER said they were leaving the consumer market. Watching that unfold on the news was painful, the news outlets are just looking for any reason to give RIM a hard time at the moment. The comment it all came from was when they said there was no point chasing a consumer market by developing their own movie rental store and music store... because they're getting 7digital and Amazon to do it for them instead! They never suggested quitting the consumer market.
Nowhere near as painful as watching RIM dig its own grave over the last year.

You're a bit naive if you think that almost every news outlet covering the story drew their conclusions from one throwaway comment. The entire earnings call was built around language that described RIM's decision to "refocus" on its business and enterprise offerings, to "build on its strengths" in those spaces, to no longer try to be "everyone's darling or all things to all people".

The language used placed a very clear emphasis on RIM no longer doing what got it into this mess - this mess that's seen the company lose 80% of its value in a year, and where the markets no longer believe the company is worth even as much as the sum of its parts (i.e. its stock is trading below book value) - along with the repeated claims that the company was 'refocusing' on business, restructuring around what people know them to be good for, and not doing more of the same, left pretty much everyone with a very clear understanding that RIM was now establishing itself around business (its strengths), and that consumer markets (universally agreed to be a massive weakness in its product line-up) would be abandoned.

The lack of any strong language or definition of any real plan with regards to building relevance in the consumer market reinforced this perception further.

Yes, if you dig down and analyse the transcripts in detail, you will find references here and there to consumer experiences and consumer markets - although RIM has a habit of using "consumer experience" and "user experience" interchangeably, particularly in reference to its new BlackBerry 10 operating system - but when the clear message being repeated and reinforced was about focusing on business, building on strengths, and ditching what hasn't been working for them, it's disingenous to suggest that the news outlets are to blame for taking away the wrong message. The message was poorly articulated, which is why a clarification had to be issued the following day.

A few hours after the end of the earnings call, a correspondent on BBC World News' Asia Business Report spoke with a senior RIM Asia executive (I'm sorry that I don't know the name of either the correspondent or the exec - it was around 2:30am by that point, and I was getting ready to get some sleep...), but the RIM executive said nothing at that point to clarify the perception that RIM would no longer be bothering with consumer-focused devices.

When clarification came, the next day, Patrick Spence - RIM's MD for Global Sales & Regional Marketing - had this to say:

"The claim that RIM has said it will withdraw from the consumer market is wholly inaccurate. While we announced plans to re-focus our efforts on our core strengths, and on our enterprise customer base, we were very explicit that we will continue to build on our strengths to go after targeted consumer segments. We listed BBM, as well as the security and manageability of our platform, among these strengths."

The contradictions in RIM's position are again evident here. First of all, we're told that we were wrong. Why? Because while we were right to report that RIM is refocusing its efforts on its "core strengths and enterprise customer base", we're also told that RIM will use those strengths - specifically "BBM, as well as the security and manageability of our platform" to build better products for certain consumer markets.

What? BBM is nice, but if it was half as compelling for consumers as RIM believes, consumers wouldn't be deserting the platform in droves - shipments down 21% and revenues down 19% on the previous quarter; revenues down 25% year-on-year. Consumers want exciting app experiences, intuitive interfaces, eye-candy, superlative specs and hardware design. BBM doesn't fill all of those gaps - and neither does "security and manageability". Ask a consumer who's considering an iPhone, an Android, even a Windows Phone, what matters to them, and see how many people cite the "security and manageability" of the platform as even being a factor in their decision.

When we reported on RIM's apparent decision to exit the consumer market, there was actually a glimmer of hope that RIM might finally get it, that it might finally understand that it's unlikely to succeed in the consumer space. Its users are abandoning it in huge numbers; its products are same-again and poorly differentiated (even within its own product range, never mind the broader market); it repeatedly misses its own internal deadlines for delivery (BlackBerry 10 is months behind schedule); it delivers products that don't even recognise its own strengths (like the PlayBook which shipped without a native email client - the one USP that everyone can agree on as being RIM/BlackBerry's 'thing' - and delivered the 2.0 software update months late, in February 2012, after originally promising to deliver it last summer). The overwhelming majority of people realise that RIM doesn't 'get' consumers, and the earnings call, with its impressive talk of refocusing on what made RIM great, and building on its strengths, and ditching what doesn't work, and not trying to be a jack of all trades, all delivered the very clear message that RIM would do one thing, and do it bloody well.

That the message was misunderstood isn't down to some industry or media bias, a determination to kick RIM while its down, and I'm frankly sick to fucking death of hearing that 'rationalisation' being used. If anything, "the media" were relieved to see RIM finally get its act together. There was enormous shock that RIM had finally found the balls to make such big decisions under its new CEO, but beyond the very realistic reporting on everything that RIM has got wrong, there was no sense of kicking it while it was down.

The sheer weight of negative reporting towards RIM isn't because we all hate the company - it's because there's nothing good to report. When we get excited about a new product like the PlayBook, they fuck it up by abandoning their strengths and focusing it somewhere between consumer and business, but failing to satisfactorily meet the needs of either customer. When we get excited about a whole new operating system, they fuck it up, first with an embarrassing name change ('BBX' was already taken, but nobody bothered to check that, so we'll now have a leap from BlackBerry 7 to BlackBerry 10), and then with a series of delays (by all accounts, the first BBX devices should have already been on sale now). When we get excited about a change in business policy, it turns out they fucked that up too - claiming that they'll 'focus' on the one thing that they're good at (business and enterprise experiences), except that there'll be no such 'focus', because they're sticking with consumer markets too, but only in the most half-arsed way (targeting only certain consumer markets, and not actually innovating in consumer experiences, but trying to take what works for business/enterprise and shoe-horn it into a consumer device).

(Oh, and by the by, RIM's claim that it will pursue 'targeted consumer segments' just means that they're not going to abandon those markets - such as Indonesia and the UK - where consumers do buy BlackBerrys in significant numbers.)

It's not a question of poor reporting or industry/media bias. When RIM delivers some good news, it's fair to say that we'll be all over it. Until then, the only party to blame for how badly RIM is perceived is RIM.

I should just add that these are my personal opinions. I can't speak for anyone else, nor for the industry or The Evil Media at large - but I certainly believe that they're an accurate reflection of how things are right now.

*diatribe ends*

- - - - - -

Critique:
I'm genuinely relieved to hear that you're not going to get another BlackBerry for now. There's a lot of promise in BB10 - but RIM's promises have proven exceptionally hollow over the last eighteen months, and I wouldn't recommend holding off for BB10 until people outside of RIM or BlackBerry fan sites have had a chance to use it and deliver an objective verdict.

The iPhone is probably the best all-rounder on the market right now; don't feel compelled to get the iPhone 4S, though - the iPhone 4 is just as good for the vast majority of user scenarios, and you'll save a bit of cash by going for that option over its newer sibling.

There are some excellent Android devices out there right now; the best is probably the Galaxy Nexus, although it's not to everyone's tastes. Samsung's Galaxy S II is a fantastic choice, and many will agree that in the Android ecosystem, it's the natural choice for a sensibly-priced, extremely capable handset; it's also receiving the latest OS update - Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - right now. The new HTC One series devices are also very impressive - although I've not used one personally, so I can't recommend them from experience.

If you're considering Windows Phone, there's really only one sensible choice right now, and that's the Nokia Lumia 800. Lovely design, snappy performance, lots of genuinely useful value-added software (like the free Music, Drive and Transport apps) and excellent build quality.

However... on both the Android and Windows Phone front, I'd say that now is probably a bad time to buy. Both platforms have massive new updates coming later this year - Android 5.0 Jelly Bean and Windows Phone 8 - both of which are expected to bring some significant advancements which may not be available to earlier handsets. So while an Android or Windows Phone that you buy today will still receive updates, the 'complete' experience will likely only be available on the newest devices on sale from around September/October.

My suggestion would be to get an interim handset for a few months - there are some great Androids available for £150-£200 off-contract, and Nokia's Lumia 710 Windows Phone (cheaper and not quite as pretty as the 800, but with similar specs) is available off-contract for as little as £170; or just grab a second-hand handset from eBay - and then consider your options a little later in the year. The next iPhone will likely also be available around the same time as the next-gen Androids and Windows Phones are available, so you'll have plenty of choices to consider!

Given that you'll be renewing your contract at some point - locking you into two years with the same device - it's best not to rush into anything. You may even find that all your needs are perfectly satisfied with your interim device, in which you'll be able to negotiate a much cheaper SIM-only tariff with your current network, or even take your business elsewhere - for example, to giffgaff with its super-cheap monthly 'goodybags' and unlimited mobile internet.
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