BlackBerry Challenge Day 16: Lag, text messaging issues, and battery life woes

Aaron Baker
member from Dallas, TX
Published: September 1, 2011

Bold 9930 Challenge

Fresh off of a business trip to New York, I have some new thoughts about the BlackBerry Bold 9930 as part of my 30 day BlackBerry Challenge - and many of them aren't good.  On top of that, I'm on day 16 with the device, so my itch to get a new phone is stronger than ever.

First, the lagging I briefly mentioned last time has gotten much worse.  I can handle the occasional freeze - these are computers, after all - but the 9930's hangups have gotten out of control.  It does one of two things (both of which are equally annoying): freeze for 7-10 seconds, or the OS will become unresponsive to both the touchscreen and the trackpad.  Several times, I've scrolled over to an app and clicked it, only to have the device not recognize my gesture.

I thought the lag could be related to the amount of stuff I have on it (by my count, I'm sitting at about 2,700 emails, 155 songs, 11 pictures, and a few apps), but the available memory looks good.  It genuinely baffles me.  My best guess is that it's software issues.  I've also toyed with the idea that the unit itself is defective, but two of my other 9930-toting friends have started to experience similar problems.

Continuing right along on the list of quirky issues, my text message service has been repeatedly failing as of late.  Several times in New York, once in D.C., and twice today, I've been greeted with a "service denied" message each time I've tried to message.  At first, I thought it was network issues, but I found that every time I did a battery pull, service was restored.  As much as I would like to think that Verizon times their outages to my schedule, I highly doubt that's the case.

I'm still loving the keyboard.  It's a joy to type on; so much, in fact, that I typed a 900 word note during one of Tuesday's flights.  That joy extends out to everything typing-related: text messaging, emails, and long URLs.

The browsing capabilities continue to be good.  Pinch-to-zoom has been incredibly fast, though I'm constantly reminded of the small display.

I'm beginning to miss the apps that I took for granted on Android and iOS.  On Monday, I found myself out of luck because I couldn't download a travel application that I enjoy.  The first few times it happened, I thought "ok, I can just use the web," but RIM's lack of third-party apps has gotten more frustrating over time.

We all know the camera is just short of awful on the 9930, but I can't underscore how irritating it is when I can't take a picture of text because there's no autofocus.  I'm sure there's someone out there that would disagree with me, but I would sacrifice some of the thinness for autofocus and a better battery.

On that note, battery life continues to be an issue.  It's not as bad as the typical Android device by any means, but given the small screen size and RIM's history with battery life, I've been less than impressed.  In 16 days, the 9930 hasn't made it through a full day without requiring a second charge.  The battery should be larger, plain and simple.  Increasing the CPU clockspeed and introducing a larger display, all while shrinking the size of a battery, is rarely a wise decision.

16 days into the quest, I'm looking back at my "Can BlackBerry compete?" question and realizing how torn I am with this device.  While it continues to be RIM's best BlackBerry to date with great features, I find myself repeatedly thinking about how a phone with incredible potential has been squandered by a few irritating (and obvious) issues.  It has a 1.2 GHz processor; lag should be non-existent.  Random text messaging issues shouldn't happen (on the device side).  The phone should have shipped with autofocus.  The battery should have been larger, especially with the significant CPU bump.

With 14 days remaining in the challenge, it's anyone's guess as to whether I'll make it or not.

Products mentioned