Most people I interact with know that I am an avid fan of BlackBerry products. Ever since I was impressed by the prowess and stamina of the BlackBerry Curve 8520 I've not looked back. I ran many social media campaigns using that small phone, I remember someone had an iPhone and we tried to incorporate her into the rigorous campaigns & voting for Big Brother Africa and her phone almost gave up. I know some people can say "but Runya you are singing BlackBerry's praises because you are one of their Elite members". The short answer to it is that I became an Elite because I was singing praises of the BlackBerry operating system not that I became to sing praises. Then you might ask if I've ever tried to see how other operating systems do. The answer would be yes for Android, no for iOS so here I am going to compare two things I have used. While I was in Zimbabwe I got a chance to use an Android phone which was a Samsung Duos. Here is my take.
The Typing Experience
I'm a prolific blogger and always try to have a topic going especially in times when I feel like I have nothing to do, like when I'm waiting in a long queue, waiting for a train or sitting in a bus travelling to work like I am doing now on my way to work. I found the Android experience frustrating because when you are typing a target of 2,000 words in 30 minutes you need to be quick and get it right the first time. I found myself making a lot of mistakes, inputting a D instead of S, K instead of L. I soon stopped trying and resorted to playing a football game to occupy myself, it was a waste. On BlackBerry I never give myself time to make corrections because there is simply no budget for this. One might say maybe I was using a small Samsung Android phone hence the poor typing experience but I've used the BlackBerry Z10 which is the same size if not smaller and did not experience any problems.
The Battery Life
I know I am a heavy user of the battery but the Samsung really surprised me. I would put it to charge and take off when at 100% and I would just watch it shed like 1% every minute I was typing on the keyboard. Trying to put it on 2G connectivity somewhat alleviated the problem but it created another, messages simply stopped coming in, the WhatsApp application would suddenly download a flurry of messages sent some minutes earlier. I have used my BlackBerry Z10 on 2G and everything worked well preserving battery life without hindering network performance.
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The Memory Management
The Samsung Galaxy Ace NXT I was using has RAM of 512MB and 1.2GHz CPU. That should be able to deliver a decent performance right, well wrong. It's hardly enough for simple things. To compare my first BlackBerry phone was the Curve 8520 with 256MB RAM and 512MHz CPU but it delivered excellent performance even though it was being limited by being confined to the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) infrastructure. The phone was very slow and when I played a football game it would stop messages coming through as if it used all resources for the game leaving background applications stranded.
The Constant Updates
I happened to be in Harare CBD the other day and I thought let me pay one place and access WIFI, the goal was to download my Unisa tutorials and modules so I can begin studying during downtime. As soon as I accessed WIFI I went about downloading the stuff I needed but it was slow, I thought it is the service provider who has bad WIFI, then I noticed many notifications. Android was now updating the applications, each time I stopped one another popped up. It became a competition, I eventually managed to stop all of them but I had already spent 10 minutes doing that. For a phone that was only a month old these were too many updates. I later asked a work colleague who has a Samsung Galaxy S4 he said that is the Android way, updates constantly. On BlackBerry I don't have to worry about this because I can choose which update to do and when. The only downside on BlackBerry is that users sometimes don't know how to do updates but ignorance is the problem there. Maybe Android solves this by forcing the updates onto users, I feel education is the key not force.
The Default Applications
This was the most frustrating thing I found about Android OS, imagine being sold something like a wardrobe cabinet which you can fit 10 suitcases. You consider it good because you only have 6 suitcases which should leave you with extra space for 4 suitcases. But when that cabinet is delivered you discover that the manufacture has put in 6 fixed suitcases in the cabinet and you are not allowed to remove them. When you thought you have 4 extra you now face the harsh reality that you actually need a space of an extra 2. This is the feeling Android default applications gave me. Maybe they are useful to the Android ecosystem but as a user it was a waste of space that I could have used for applications that I need. These default applications cannot be removed unless maybe one roots the device which is not for novice users and voids the warranty. With BlackBerry you get few default applications which hardly take 10% of the storage so I get a wardrobe cabinet I can actually use to store what I want.
The Leaking Data
I noticed that WIFI is a need among Android users (never mind that it drains battery quicker). The reason being you cannot hold onto your data even if you wanted. As it is users are up in arms with network service providers over disappearing airtime. Android has its own that users have not begun to fight. The default applications on Android do a lot of things, some location pinging, update check etc. Android is owned by Google and we know the more Google knows about you, your likes, dislikes, religion, travel arrangements, shopping then the better they can sell you to companies as target for adverts. If you know Android users, check how they use their data, the average user switches data on and off. I never understood it at first why a smartphone must be turned into a dumb phone. A smartphone is supposed to be connected 24 hours a day unless it is out of coverage area that is my philosophy. Android users know that these default applications can be working in the background depleting data so the only way to save (so they think) is to switch off data connectivity. On my BlackBerry if I leave it idle then I do not have to fear losing data unless there is constant emails’ coming in and out with large files.
So Why Is Android the (New Coolest)
I do not contend with the fact that Android is widely used and popular. There are many reasons why this is so. The first one is that it became cooler than anything people had used before, when it came there was Symbian, iOS and BlackBerry 7 and downwards. All were inferior to Android so people have not forgotten that aspect, I meet people who think BlackBerry 10 uses BIS hence is slow. This is just lack of information. The second reason is that iOS is a premium device; an iPhone 6 does not come cheap so those who might want it simply cannot afford. But the biggest reason why Android has done so well is possibly propaganda. Today if you walk into a store especially the ones owned by network providers you are likely to be thrown an Android phone. I have tested this walking into several asking for BlackBerry Passport or Classic. The salesperson will quickly try to convince you to opt for an Android instead; I understand some manufacturers like Samsung pay a commission for devices sold.
But the biggest motivation is the way in which Android helps mobile providers profit from their customers. Those default applications use data and cause other applications to use data as well. So whether you use or leave your Android phone idle, it will continue to use data. Imagine MTN and Vodacom knowing that we have users constantly using data 24 hours whether they like it or not. If you read comments on the link above you can get further insight into how the little data sent by your default applications can become 3MB or 4MB when charged. So Android ensures they can sell as much data as possible which is profit for them. Why would they promote any other operating system that ensures you save on data costs? The reason I left Vodacom was because I could account for the data I was using on my BlackBerry & they could not account for what they charged me to have used. But if you have an Android device I dare you try to do reconciliation of the data you are using and call the network, they will simply tell you, “the background applications are using data”. So nothing is going to change, the cows (consumers) will continue to be milked for profit squeezing their data by turning off the service on the phone.
DISCLAIMER: The article was written by Me Runyararo Mherekumombe, opinions & expressions are 100% my own and do not reflect the views or position of BlackBerry Limited.