Tough Love: Why We Left Our BlackBerrys

As you have probably noticed, we have recently made the change from BlackBerry to iPhone (which you can read about on Lauren’s blog and David’s blog). We’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments from this switch, and because of that, we decided to write a blog post about the reasons why. Since we both got BlackBerrys at the same time, and then switched to iPhone at the same time, we thought it only appropriate that we create a unified blog post about it!

How We Got Involved in BlackBerry

Lauren: I’ve always been a huge supporter of BlackBerry, and absolutely loved their phones. My first smartphone was a BlackBerry Storm back in 2009, and I’ve had BlackBerrys ever since. The #TeamBlackBerry community was just another reason I chose to stay with BlackBerry. They helped me with issues, supported me in my various endeavors, and became some of my closest friends! As iPhones became more and more popular, I swore I would never buy one. My friends eventually all switched to iPhones, even the ones who were as dedicated to Android as I was to BlackBerry. It was hard constantly explaining why I continued to love BlackBerry, why their devices worked for me, and why I hadn’t tried an iPhone yet. Since I had never used anything different, all I knew was BlackBerry. I thought they were the best phones for me, and no other phone would even come close.

David:  My intrigue with BlackBerry began in 2008 when my mother brought home a BlackBerry Curve 8330.  I was fascinated by a phone with the ability to load full web pages and one that had a full QWERTY keyboard.  In 2009, when it came time to upgrade, I chose a Pearl Flip 8230 to be my first smartphone and my first BlackBerry.  The more I used my BlackBerry, the more I loved the experience, and that experience is what brought me back in 2011 to a Torch 9810, a Z10 in early-2013, and a Z30 earlier this year.  With every passing BlackBerry device that fell into my hands, the more entrenched within the #TeamBlackBerry community I became and, soon enough, I found myself surrounded by some of my now-closest friends and the only thing which brought us together were our BlackBerry devices.  The allure of the iPhone and other competing operating systems normally felt distant, for a long time because BlackBerry’s experience felt better, but also because where BlackBerry lacked in a truly encompassing ecosystem, it excelled in forming a tight-knit community of users, most of whom cared about each other.  With every new BlackBerry came a renewed resolve, a resolve that I would never use anything but a BlackBerry in my life.


What Made Us Switch

Lauren: When one of my friends switched to the iPhone 6, I decided to test out his iPhone 5. After using it for a few days, I realized that this was actually the best phone for me. I was worried that I liked this phone so much! I was always defending BlackBerry against Apple, saying how you couldn’t possibly be productive on an iPhone, and how they were for people who wanted to conform. After using the phone for a few weeks, I realized what I should have realized years ago. Just because you support a company and appreciate the products they create doesn’t mean it’s the best product for you.

David:  In mobile, there are only two (well, three, now) companies that develop the software and manufacture their own hardware; Apple and BlackBerry (and now Microsoft).  As such, I’ve always found every iPhone since the iPhone 4 fascinating.  However, the experience (combination of both hardware and software) was never enough to pull me away from BlackBerry. Still, I levied my opinion on the iPhone as if I had used one.  As someone who loves technology, especially mobile technology, and a computer science undergraduate student, I recently began feeling that it was unfair of me to do this.  Admittedly, it became harder to say why my BlackBerry was the best choice for me, let alone my friends, family, and anyone else who asked for my opinion on the matter.  BlackBerry’s new enterprise-focused direction and target market further convinced me that it was time to explore other devices, OSs, and ecosystems.  It’s difficult to say that this was fueled by a dissatisfaction for my Z30 or BlackBerry 10, but it was a feeling of alienation that pushed me to fulfill a wish 4 years in the making; the wish to give the iPhone its fair share of a chance.


Why iPhone is Currently the Best Phone for Us

Lauren: Social media is my passion, and it’s the career path I plan on taking after college. Because there are so many new platforms and apps designed every day relating to social media, I need to stay up-to-date with them. This is the critical area that caused me to rethink my phone choice. BlackBerry doesn’t have the major apps that I need and want, like Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. Yes, there are Android apps that can be sideloaded, and there are native versions of these apps, but they just can’t compare. As much as I risk sounding like Jony Ive, everything on iPhones just works. The apps work as they should, the OS itself is lag-free and it has all of the features I want and need. Sure, there are things I miss on my BlackBerry, but things like the hub and LED come second to apps and compatibility.

David:  When I used to tell people why I chose a BlackBerry over other devices, I would say that I didn’t use many apps and that I didn’t need them.  Well, the fact of the matter is, I never knew what it meant to have many apps to use and the world’s largest, most polished app library from which to choose.  Now I have access to apps for services that I’ve used while on my BlackBerry, like Pinterest, WordPress, and all of my tennis apps. Of course, there are certain things about my BlackBerry that I miss; swiping to reach the BlackBerry Hub, the flashing LED, the typing experience, and BBM on BlackBerry.  However, when it comes to the most consistent, most polished, most power-efficient operating system on the market, it’s very difficult to make a case against iOS.  Everything really does just simply work as you’d like it and, for the most part, in a very elegant and efficient fashion.


The Future

We can’t predict what will happen in the future, and we certainly can’t predict what phones are coming out in the upcoming months/years.  When it comes to what devices we’ll be picking up in the future, it’s difficult to predict with much certainty.  Right now, iOS is our operating system of choice because it works the best for us above its competitors.  With that being said, the door is never fully closed on the possibility of returning to BlackBerry.  We’ll be ever observant and supportive of the company that made us passionate about smartphones, hoping that it fully recovers and wins in the enterprise.  Even more than that, though, we desperately hope to see BlackBerry return to the consumer market with devices that can compete for the hearts of consumers like us with a version of BlackBerry 10 that exudes the polish and elegance of iOS while, at the same time, does so in a very BlackBerry-like fashion.  Whether it be through carrying one of its devices or purely through our sentiments, we’ll always support BlackBerry and our #TeamBlackBerry community.


3 thoughts on “Tough Love: Why We Left Our BlackBerrys

  1. Is it possible that I’m the first one to comment on this? I’ve tweeted back and forth with both of you and followed your adventures for quite some time, but mostly we’ve tweeted about BlackBerry. I hope that we’ll continue to stay in touch now that you are actively using and enjoying another platform.

    I have an iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and iPhone 6. There’s no doubt that iOS improved immensely with iOS 5 and that iOS 7 and 8 have been very, very good. If it makes you feel better, when you were bashing Apple several years ago as members of the BlackBerry community, your doing so was probably more justified than you realize when using new iPhone devices today. But, almost all your criticisms have been addressed. It’s even been sort of convenient to transfer files back and forth from mobile to desktop for awhile, particularly if you use a mac.

    But, I use a BlackBerry Passport as my daily driver. Why? It’s freaking awesome. It’s such a leap forward over my old Z30, I’m amazed. There are some things I’d change about how instant actions and universal search work and I’m eagerly awaiting the return of customizable keyboard shortcuts, and hoping for some improvements to the phone app, but even at this point, it’s just better for my workflow. Where does it fail? Well, honestly, it doesn’t compete with an iPhone on ecosystem. There are a couple of SaaS solutions that I’d like to use that have an iPhone app and don’t have an Android app. (BTW, the Android runtime on the Passport is outstanding. It’s fast, fluid, and finally well-integrated via the share/card API. None of these things were true on the early BB10 devices and I think RAM was a big issue there. I suspect that the Classic will suck like the older devices, but I’m really surprised how a little extra RAM and a couple of cores can do wonders in this area, though I still think the lack of Google services may be a dealbreaker for many.) Also, while the Passport’s camera has a larger sensor, I’ve never been able to take good photos with a BB10 device and that’s still kind of true on the Passport. I think my 4s takes better photos and has faster autofocus. But, no one should buy a BlackBerry device to run Android apps or take photos. What makes the Passport my choice, despite the drawbacks, is the keyboard/screen combo. It’s sort of the killer app for me and it’s hardware. It makes me better at email, better texting, and better at social media. But, remember, for me social media means FB and Twitter. That’s where almost all the local buy-in in my community is. The rest are niche or fringe. I still don’t understand why I’d snapchat with someone! Lauren probably should be spending her time downloading new social media apps on iOS and experimenting with them — how can they help her future clients? Are they a waste of time? What’s the best way of approaching this platform? If Chen has his way, BlackBerry will never be that kind of platform, and while I’m not sure I agree, I’m okay just getting really, really good at the fundamentals. In some ways, the Passport is better at those fundamentals. If you take a look at the reviews on Amazon, I think you’ll see that this is really what BB10 should have been to begin with… or at least it’s close. There are still a number of problems and I think it could still use another gig of RAM from time to time — QNX is the exact opposite of what was promised humorously enough — but, it’s really getting there. It’s hard to imagine the BlackBerry Rio competing with the iPhone 6 Plus, but the Passport really doesn’t have any competition at what it’s good at…



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