Originally launched back in the Nineties as a simple paging device, the BlackBerry has grown into one of the biggest and most recognisable mobile phone brands, the pride and joy of business users the world over. The secret of its success was simple: the BlackBerry completely rewrote the rulebook on how we use email.
No longer did you need to be tied to a desk, and a desktop computer, to check your inbox, you could do it on the go. Even more importantly, through the BlackBerry’s revolutionary ‘push email’ concept you could read your messages instantly.
Push email works by routing your traditional inbox via the BlackBerry servers, accessed by signing up to either the BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) for businesses or the Internet Service (BIS) for individual users. As soon as a new mail drops into your inbox, BIS (or BES) instantly ‘pushes’ it to the BlackBerry handheld associated with the account.
There’s no clicking of a Send/Receive butt on in the mail client, no waiting for 15 minutes for the email app to poll your inbox. With a BlackBerry email is instant – more akin to the immediacy of text messaging than the email we are more used to on a PC.
It’s this instant delivery that sold the BlackBerry concept to businesses, while in the last couple of years the simplicity of the service combined with more attractively designed hardware has increased its appeal to ordinary consumers as well. Now, a fifth of all the smartphone users in the world carry a BlackBerry.
Of course, a pocket-sized email device would be useless without the BlackBerry’s second point of genius, the thumb keyboard. The trademark Qwerty keyboard that sits below the handset’s screen seemingly defies the laws of engineering. It’s tiny, cramped and should be impossible to use with any comfort, yet with subtle design touches and intelligent short cuts it is somehow possible to type even lengthy emails at fast speeds. Other phone manufacturers have tried to replicate this, but the BlackBerry is still going strong.
1. The keyboard – The 35-key thumbboard comes in the normal Qwerty layout similar to any desktop keyboard. Despite its compact size it enables the user to type quickly and at some length.
2. Trackball – The trackball offers the quickest way of navigating. You can control how fast you scroll through webpages or documents simply by changing the speed at which you move the trackball.
3. Large capacity battery – The 1500mAh battery is as large as in any mainstream device, and delivers a couple of days’ use on a single charge, unlike many devices that need a daily charge.
4. Two megapixel camera – Although not a major focus of the BlackBerry range, the camera is good for snapshots, and the always-on internet connection on the phone makes it easy to share them.