New Year, New Phone (Again)

A new year means a time for people to have an excuse to reinvent themselves. Some people work on their fitness, some people will change their style or hair color, but I use it as an excuse to try new technology. After trying out the Pixel 2 at the end of last year and really disliking it (which you can read about here), I knew I needed a different phone, but didn’t know what direction I was headed in. In typical Lauren fashion, a new opportunity was presented to me. An opportunity with a keyboard and long battery life (without paying $29 to replace the battery). Read More »

The Ideal Phone

With all my back-and-forth switching from BlackBerry to Android to BlackBerry to iPhone to Android to iPhone again, I’ve come to realize what I want in a phone doesn’t exist in one device. So, if I was going to create my ideal phone, here are the features it would have:Read More »

Pixel 2: Great Camera, Not So Great Phone

Now that I’ve had the Pixel 2 for a month, it’s time for a review, and honestly, I’m disappointed. When I first got the phone, I fell in love with the camera and the fantastic pictures it takes. Now, I realize that I may have had blinders on.Read More »

BREAKING: Lauren Kortbein has switched platforms…again

A long, long time ago, I was a BlackBerry addict. I had numerous devices, from OS 7 all the way up to BlackBerry 10. I was such an addict, that when I switched to iPhone, it became a “thing”. (You can read my reasons to switch here.) Someone actually wrote a blog about why my reasons to switch were invalid and how getting an iPhone made me an “iSheep”. I was hounded on social media for weeks about being a traitor to BlackBerry. So while I would prefer not to live through that experience again, I do have an announcement: I’ve switched platforms yet again. But I’m getting ahead of myself…Read More »

How Smart Can a Watch Be?

As with most new technology, people typically don’t understand the need for something new and innovative. Before I got my first smartphone I didn’t understand why you would need to access the Internet wherever you were, at all times. Before I got an iPhone I didn’t understand the appeal of having every app in the world available to you. So when smartwatches first started getting popular, I didn’t understand why you would need your notifications on your wrist. I’ve even had this same smartwatch before! So why would this time be any different?

First off, the Moto 360 now connects to almost any iPhone or Android. This meant I could connect my personal phone to it, and wouldn’t need a second phone like I did the first time around. Second, this 360 is rose gold. I repeat, rose gold. (If you didn’t know how weirdly obsessed with rose gold I am, you clearly aren’t following me on Instagram, so shame on you.) So I decided to give the smartwatch another try. And holy cow, was I impressed. This time around, it surprised me how much I liked being able to look at my wrist instead of pulling my phone out of my pocket. The 360 had no issues at all connecting to my iPhone, and every notification showed up on the watch. I was able to swipe away notifications which also got rid of them on my phone’s Notification Center, and each notification had a particular look to it, which was a nice way to differentiate texts versus Instagram likes versus emails.

The downsides about the Moto 360 were the notifications and the battery life. I didn’t like that I wasn’t able to interact with notifications on the watch. I’m sure this is because it’s a Motorola watch connecting to an Apple phone, so I understand. Although, I would have liked to have been able to respond to texts, because having to pull out your phone defeats the purpose of a smartwatch. I was able to “answer” calls using the watch, but I still had to talk through my phone. Then comes the battery life. I was able to get one full day out of it, but never two full days. I did have the “always on” option turned on, which meant that although the screen went black, the clock face was always on, and I’m sure that drains battery quickly. This wasn’t a huge issue for me, because I took the watch off to sleep anyway, so I just put it on its little charging station and it was good to go for the next day.

I would definitely say I’m a smartwatch convert now. I like what it can do and am interested to see where they go from here. Especially if they keep making them in rose gold!

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Mixed metals. ⌚️📱☕️

A post shared by Lauren Kortbein (@laurenkortbein) on

(Side note: extra points for you if you counted how many times I said “rose gold” in this post.)

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.

 

iPhone Apps and Accessories

Most of the time, getting used to a new phone and a new mobile OS is a challenge. But seeing as how the high majority of people have an iPhone, it wasn’t so much “difficult” as it was just finding out everything the phone could do. As I said in my previous post, a big part of me switching to an iPhone was the availability of apps. Now I’m overwhelmed with choices, but two weeks in and I’m already picking favorites.

My favorite apps (so far):

  • Tweetbot: I was hesitant to buy this Twitter app since it was $5, but I definitely don’t regret it! Native Twitter is awful no matter what platform, so I was glad to have this as a replacement.
  • Afterlight/VSCOcam/Fragment: These 3 photo editing apps are the main reasons why I’ve been posting so much more to Instagram now.
  • Spotify: Student discount makes this $5/month. That’s a cup of coffee!
  • Pocket: I find a lot of cool articles to read, but don’t always want to read them at that exact time. This app allows me to save the links to read whenever.

Not only do I have what seems like an unlimited amount of apps, but I also have an unlimited amount of accessories!

My favorite accessories (so far):

  • Mophie case: As stated on Twitter, this isn’t so much an accessory as it is a necessity. Nevertheless, I have one in pink now, so that’s freaking awesome.
  • Casemate brilliance case: I love glitter and sparkle. This case doesn’t lack that!
  • Bose speakers: These tiny speakers are as good as the huge speakers we have in my living room, if not better. Also, I don’t actually own this, I just steal it from my roommate. (Don’t worry, I always give it back!)