One month later: the "I dropped my Android phone and went back to Blackberry" story
Yes, its true. Bucking conventional wisdom i decided to drop my Android phone and go back to Blackberry. I don't consider myself a BB fanboy; after all, it was frustration with my BB Curve and its limitations that drove me to Android in the first place. I do however always root for the underdog, which no one can deny is RIM's status these days.
So about a month ago I picked up a used Blackberry Style 9670 on Ebay for cheap and called Sprint to do the imei swap. This is the full-qwerty flip phone Sprint released for about 15 minutes last year, running BB6 OS. Ebay listings evidently have a wide scale of what "excellent condition" means, but the phone works nonetheless. It is in many ways just a Curve in flip-style form factor, but curiously it has a 5MP continuous autofocus camera (I'm not sure even the Bold has a camera this good). And after a month as my daily-driver phone, here are my thoughts:
PROS: Blackberry hardware is almost universally underrated. These are not slim sexy devices, but build quality and antenna performance have always been BB's strong suit. The metallic plastic finish on this phone is a smudge magnet, but the phone feels very good in the hand, and nicely balanced when the flip lid is open. But with a Blackberry it really is all about that wonderful physical keyboard. If i had to pick one reason for switching from Android it would be the keyboard. For me there is just no replacement for a physical keyboard. The customizable flashing LED is the ultimate in glanceable information: I can see a new message or missed call from across the room, and who sent it. I'm sort of surprised that iOS and Android don't have such a simple but effective feature.
On the OS side, the praise is admittedly sparse. BB6 is not discernably different from BB5, which was outdated. That said, Blackberry still handles email and messaging better than anyone. For me I think its the combination of the keyboard and the phone's quick access to messages that seal the deal. Plus there's what I call eyes-off functionality: there are situations where you need do certain things on the phone without having to have eyes on the screen. No touch-only device can do this reliably.
CONS: the usual gripes and complaints about the antiquated OS. There is smartphone functionality, but the OS makes you jump through so many hoops to get things done that you eventually no longer bother. The app situation is what it is, but honestly I'm not a big app user; I have Facebook, Twitter and a few productivity apps like Evernote, and I'm happy with that. But overall the Blackberry comes nowhere near the user-friendly appeal of Android.
Its been a month, and I think I'm going to stick with the Blackberry a little longer. This experiment has helped me to figure out just what I use my phone for, which is to make calls and do messaging. And when it comes to those core features, Blackberry is still a strong contender.