Some time ago, I posted on Tumblr about my love/hate relationship with my new BlackBerry 9700. I loved the phone (as a telephone — for actually making calls), the email, calendar, and contacts integration, and the form factor (fits into a pocket easily; durable).
I was not, however, enamored of two things, to wit:
The browser is just terrible. To be fixed in version 6.0 of the OS, but we shall see.
The Blackberry App Store experience is pretty horrendous.
I’ve recently installed several different leaked versions of BlackBerry OS 6 — the same OS that will come on the new BB 9780 as well as showing up on the new Torch touchscreen BB. OS 6 brings a tremendously-improved, WebKit based browser, as well as a snappier, smoother interface and updated applications.
My first few experiences with OS 6 were a bit flaky — SocialScope links didn’t work, for example, due to an OS bug with context menus — but even with that the other improvements made the 9700 feel like a brand new device. [Note: SocialScope is a fantastic Twitter/FaceBook/FourSquare client for BB. It’s still in beta but I have some invites available as of this writing if anyone’s interested.]
But with the recent 188.8.131.520 release, the context menu bug was gone, and 184.108.40.2068 has meant an even greater improvement — faster browsing, fewer random errors, and the memory leaks and battery drain issues of earlier releases seem to be gone.
I should caveat that updating your BB device OS, particularly with a leaked, unofficial version, is not for the faint of heart. It can brick the device. It can cause you to lose all of your data. Strange and horrible things may occur. So, it makes sense to take some precautions before trying an update:
- Check out the forum postings on the update. You can read others’ experiences with the update and decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. The version I’m using has some bugs reported, but most posters say it is working fine and a distinct improvement over the 380 release.
- Carefully review the information on updating an OS
- Use AppLoader or Desktop Manager to back up everything ahead the update
- Download and install the new OS — scan it for malware of course! — using links from a somewhat trusted source such as CrackBerry
- Be prepared to reinstall the OS in case your BB gets bricked or downgrade to a prior OS if you don’t like the new version.
So, what about those things I ‘hated’ about my BlackBerry? Well, the browser is fast, loads pages very well, and can zoom into text almost as well as the iOS browser. And the BB AppStore, while not nearly as slick as iTunes and the on-device iOS purchase experience, is relatively painless — one login and password to download an purchase apps, and a choice of carrier or PayPal billing.
All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the 9700+OS 6 combo — enough to stick with the BB for a while. As an aside, I had a chance to look at and briefly use a BB Torch (9800). Nice big screen but a bit too thick and heavy compared with the 9700.
For comprehensive information on the latest unofficial (and official) BB OS releases, visit the CrackBerry OS Superpage.