Lets just get this out of the way early – I admittedly have an issue with electronics. I like to touch them, fix them, play with them, and tear them apart. I’m not saying that I need medical assistance for it, but I REALLY like tech toys. One of the more enjoyable things that I get to do at work is to test and evaluate mobile devices. Like many companies the Blackberry has been a solid, highly manageable solution that has served us well, but the tide is shifting towards more consumer driven devices like the iPhone and the Android family.
I was definitely interested in the newest version of the Blackberry OS as it was finally going to offer a browser based on webkit. Personally I think the webkit engine is one of the best browser engines out there. It has served me well in Safari and more recently Chrome. Chrome has been my main browser for a while now and I love it. Very fast and clean.
What surprised me was seeing the Blackberry Torch as the phone that RIM would rollout to showcase it’s new OS. I guess it’s just me, but I have no use for a physical keyboard anymore. The on screen keyboards for the iPhone, Droid 2 and Droid X are rock solid and to me a physical keyboard just makes for a thicker mobile device, even if it does slide out of the way when you aren’t using it.
I get that Blackberry’s Suretype keyboard is very popular with users and it makes one handed typing a little more convenient, but why lead with this phone? Why not go after an entirely touch based device that is slim and light? In my opinion RIM already had most of everything that they needed. I was an original Storm owner and that phone was horrible. I hung in there for over 6 months hoping for code improvements that would improve on all of it’s shortcomings but I couldn’t wait any longer and went back to my trusty Curve.
When the Storm 2 came out I agreed to testing it even though I was so unimpressed with the original Storm. I’m glad I did as the Storm 2 was an excellent phone. It fixed pretty much every issue that I had with the original Storm. So how does this fit with my thoughts on RIM and the Torch?
I believe that RIM should have taken the Storm 2, reduced the thickness and weight a little, switched from the screen that you push to a simple capacitive screen like the iPhone and Droids, and put OS 6 on it. That would have been a killer showcase phone for their new OS 6 as the OS itself was very nice. Very smooth. Very fast. And it was still a Blackberry. But they didn’t, they gave us the Torch and put us on AT&T. So the Torch went back in the box and I switched over to a phone that met more of my needs; the Droid X. Huge phone because of the screen but it became comfortable and easy to use in a day.
It’s a little strange using something other than a Blackberry for work, but Android has grown on me quickly and the learning curve is mostly gone. Most of that is probably because I have had an iPhone since they were released so using a purely touch interface just feels natural to me. When RIM delivers the phone I described above you can be sure that I will test it out. I’m looking forward to it as I can’t imagine it taking too long before they deliver something else as I hear that Torch sales aren’t all that great. It really is a nice phone but just not what I’m looking for anymore.