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Archive for November 25th, 2009

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Blackberry OS 5.0 Review

Remember my previous post about my 10 gripes with Blackberries? It seems that RIM were aware of these issues and were working on them (for some of them at least!).

Phone: Blackberry Bold 9000

OS Build: 5.0.0.348 (not an Official Release so may have some bugs till a final version is released)

Speed:

OS5.0 is FAST. Menus open and close with no noticeable delay and the device feels generally snappier. In fact, those that reviewed the Bold 2 9700 often attributed it to the newer device or the application memory but it appears it was entirely the new OS5 that comes preloaded with the new Bold. Upon loading it up in the older Bold 9000, the same snappiness was experienced.

This is the single biggest improvement of OS5 and makes using the Blackberry a real pleasure.

Battery Life:

Battery life seems to have improved a bit. With 3G turned on and moderate use, surfing, streaming Youtube, lots of Blackberry Messages, Google Talk running in the background, couple of texts and a few short calls and 17 hours later, I just hit red at 6% battery. This used to run flat about 3-4 hours earlier with IM off! Do note that my battery is rather old and it may have lost some of its original charge holding ability but you can expect your phone to last the day without the need for a recharge with moderate use.

Reception:

Now reception is a tricky one considering even on the 4.6 builds, this varied greatly from build to build. However I didn’t see any notable difference between this and my previous build 4.6.303 which is generally a good thing!

Bootup Time:

Another thing many reviewers reported was the faster bootup time. I’m actually not too sure about this as on my build, it did seem a tad faster though I have a suspicion it’s a psychological effect due to the new progress bar shown while on bootup. The bar gives you a rough idea of how far its into the bootup process and gives you the feeling that ‘something is moving’ rather than just a blank hour glass loading that has no apparent end.

On my test, my Bold took 5 minutes to boot-up, still far too long, but the progress bar makes things better.

Media:

Now perhaps the most important thing that was resolved is that thumbnails load quickly now and media scanning no longer takes an eternity.I loaded some 187 songs into my phone, complete with album pictures and folders and it scanned them all in less than 10 seconds. A pretty good improvement considering that it used to take minutes.

There are also some slight UI changes though nothing significant.

Capture23_54_38

Media is now segregated within the folder now.

Some added shading on the buttons

Some added shading on the buttons

Horrible music if you ask me

Horrible music if you ask me

Browser:

Slightly faster, but still chokes on Javascript. We probably still have to wait for their Webkit based browser.

Almost the same

Almost the same just some slight cosmetic tweaks

Blackberry Messenger

Many of you who had upgraded to BBM version 5.0 which is available on the older OSes would see no surprises here. Those who haven’t would see use of Avatars, a nicer UI, the option for Blackberry Groups, barcode scanning and very importantly remote backup of your BBM Contacts.

Blackberry's Killer App is improved

Blackberry's Killer App is improved

Threaded SMS

For those of you envying IPhones for their threaded SMS feature, envy no more! Threaded SMS is here with a variety of styles and works pretty well making it feel like a BBM conversation. Expect your SMS bills to soar.

Threaded SMS

Threaded SMS finally!

IM Contact on Home Screen

I’m unsure if this is a new feature of OS5.0 or simply an updated function of Gtalk and MSN but now you can place contacts on your Home Screen or folder for quick access! I felt this was pretty neat.

GoogleTalk contact

GoogleTalk contact

Capture0_1_16

MSN Contact. Teddy!

Video Recording

Video recording screen has been changed slightly.

Video recording screen has been changed slightly.

Closing Thoughts

Now I didn’t have much expectations of OS5.0, expecting it to be a minor cosmetic update. Although yes the OS remains by and large the same, the speed improvements and snappier feeling, improved battery life combined with the faster media scanning makes it a must upgrade for Blackberry users (who know what they are doing). OS5.0 is a huge step in the right direction and all the Blackberry needs now is a real browser (and perhaps a slightly snazzier UI) and a bigger app library. Annoyingly, you still can’t easily add a new number to an existing contact….

It’s a bit of a bittersweet feeling as I recently purchased myself a 9700 Bold which will now feel almost exactly the same as my old Bold in terms of responsiveness since it has the same 624mhz processor. Battery is still at 1500mah and I have a feeling we’ll get similar battery performance. Suddenly the 9700 Bold seems to be a much less compelling upgrade with only a better 3.2 megapixel camera, trackpad, a smaller form factor (which to those with large fingers is a bad thing) and a higher definition screen (which in real life is practically unnoticeable).

Is the 9700 Bold worth the high RM2XXX price if you are an existing Bold user? Probably not with OS5.0 running so well on the 9000 Bold. I’m frankly quite surprised that RIM did not take the opportunity to upgrade the processor further but perhaps they didn’t see the need to with OS5.0 running so smoothly already on existing hardware. I do feel that it was a missed opportunity to really have a device that stands out considering the Bold IS the flagship device for RIM. I think this was most apparent when the 9700 Bold and Storm 2’s release was almost entirely overshadowed by Motorola Droid’s release. RIM seriously needs to get its ‘sexy’ back.

Oh and would appreciate if comments were steered away from ‘IPhone ROX’ sort by the Mac fans among you. They do rock as a lifestyle device but still have ways to go before becoming a true business communication device with secure e-mail and multi-tasking still unimplemented and a short battery life which I’m sure would be rectified in future releases.


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