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| | Blackberry 8703e versus 7250 -- Verizon
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My Blackberry 7250, purchased 2 years ago, is on its last legs. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's last screw. Each of the other three screws have actually fallen out.
So, I go to the local Verizon store to participate in the "renew every two" contract renewal rebate. I get there, and the 7250 is no longer available. In the end, I walk out with an 8703e.
The first thing I notice is the difference between the shape and design, specifically as it pertains to the holster.
The 7250 has a curved back that facilitates gripping it to remove it from the holster. The 7250 is much easier to remove from the holster than the 8703e. The 8703e requires the use of two hands to easily remove the phone from the holster. It can be done with one hand, but getting a good grip to do this is difficult because of the different body design.
A call to Verizon, for no other real reason than I am irritated, reveals the following information: the Verizon tech guy on the phone has an 8703e, and it took two weeks for his holster to loosen up well enough for him to be able to easily remove the phone.
A small irritation, but really it is something that should change over time. With this in mind, I press on in discovering other differences between the two phones.
At this point, it is relevant to mention that an iPhone was viewed earlier in the day. As an Apple fan (but a little short of fanboy), I must say I was impressed. I must also add I have never been impressed with Cingular/AT&T's network as compared to Verizon, but I feel the iPhone encounter colored my experience with the 8703e.
The most obvious difference between the two phones -- 7250 and 8703e -- is the screen. The 8703e has a brighter, crisper, nicer screen. Coupled with this screen are slicker graphics. I actually preferred the icon graphics from the older 7250, as they were more simple and more clean. This, however, is a personal preference. Further, the 8703e is theme-able, so this may be fixable to my preference. (Some of the themes I tried were a little too glitzy for my curmudgeon-y taste, but the possibilities are there.)
The next difference I noticed was the keyboard. The keys are closer together on the 8703e than on the 7250. This allows the phone to be smaller in width, but also makes it more difficult to quickly type. Still, this is something that can be remedied with practice.
At this time, I received a phone call from my fiance. I answered the call. The graphics for incoming phone calls are smaller and less invasive. The 7250 took up the entire screen with "INCOMING CALL," the name, and the number of the caller. The 8703e has this information in a smaller dialog box. The text is smaller and less easy to read.
At the end of the call, I attempted to hang up using the ubiquitous cancel button below the scroll wheel. This does not work. Instead, I am provided the option to "Continue call and access the home screen: OK/Cancel?" This is in one of the small, dialog-esque boxes. Later I discover the purpose of one of the three new buttons below the screen and above the QWERTY keyboard is to "cancel" my phone calls. Instead of being able to cancel a phone call using the cancel key on the phone's side, I have to use the red "hang up" key on the front of the phone.
These three keys are symbolic of the changes RIM has made to the Blackberry since my beloved 7250 was released. The three buttons, from left to right, are a green "phone" button, a smaller "web" button, and a red "hangup" button. The green and red buttons are similar to those found on many normal cell phones.
The "web" button, when pressed, brings up the web browser. This is kind of nice, but not necessary -- if you rely on your Blackberry for lots of web browsing . . . I feel sorry for you. Pressing the "phone" button does something similar to pressing the "phone" button located at the top of my 7250 -- a list of numbers and people I have recently called and who have recently called me appears. Unlike the 7250, if I begin typing a name my the phone does not display the sorting list of contacts which contain those characters. To me, this is a huge loss -- this was one of the killer features of the 7250, in my opinion. The number of keystrokes-to-call was much less with this feature. I was unable to find an option to keep the old 7250 functionality.
Which leads to making phone calls. The 8703e is, after all, a phone. In order to make a call, you can begin dialing on the home screen. Or, you can click on the phone button, mentioned above, and choose a number from the list. If you do not see one you like, you can begin dialing a number there as well. In addition, you can open the "contacts" list and begin typing the name of a contact. As you type, the phone sorts through the contacts for you. A nice feature, as it was with the older 7250. However, once you click on a contact your first option is "View" rather than call. You must either view the contact and THEN select call, or scroll down that initial menu to the "call" option. This adds an extra layer of selection in order to make a call -- a layer not present in the 7250's "phone" button ability. As stated above, I really dislike this loss of a feature.
Three new buttons, on the left side and the top, are present on the 8703e that are not on the 7250. The 8703e moved the 7250's top "phone" button to the front of the phone. Now, on the top of the 8703e, there is what appears to be a "mute" button (not tested by me) and a power button. The power button appears to be more akin to a sleep button, but it can also power down the device if held in for a period of time. On the left side, below the USB port and the earbud jack, the 8703e has a "profiles" button that allows you to quickly choose whether you want your phone to ring, vibrate, etc -- basically it pulls up the "profiles" application. These are not bad additions, but not necessary in my opinion. Different people may view different buttons as being the most relevant. Your mileage likely varies by style of use.
Back to the software, one thing jumped out immediately -- an e-mail configuration button. This, essentially, points the browser to the Verizon blackberry e-mail configuration page. I believe there are some modifications, but that is essentially how it works. This is an added feature I find to be nice and convenient. Now if I can remember my password. (Note: BES users may find this less useful.)
Another feature I noticed was separate icons for phone logsand messages. In other words, I have on "inbox" for all messages -- phone, e-mail, SMS, etc -- but also separate icons for just phone logs, SMS, and e-mail. This is nice, as I like to log all of my phone calls -- outgoing and incoming. Also nice are these separate icons for each e-mail account I am pulling e-mail from. Currently I pull from three accounts. This is an added feature I find to be nice.
Conspicuously lacking is a Bluetooth icon. On my 7250, I am able to turn Bluetooth on and off using an icon from the home screen. I was unable to find this (although I may have missed it) on the 8703e. On the 8703e, I had to go through the option choices to enable Bluetooth. Not a big deal for me, for I do not use a Bluetooth headset, but if I did this would be irritating.
All of the little things, added together, led me to return the 8703e and re-activate my 7250. New screws were purchased from online in order to self-repair the 7250. I may purchase an old, used 7250 to replace my current one as well.
I acknowledge my curmudgeon nature, and the influence of a the iPhone viewing earlier in the day, on my decision. The main point of frustration was my inability to quickly sort through contacts by pressing the phone key. I could call people in no more than 5 button click (including click qill clicks, etc) with this feature on the 7250. The 8703e requires far more. Another significant irritation was the inability to easily get the phone out of the holster.
Still, I would very much appreciate the comments of other 8703e users, past or present, who may shed some light on my trials and travails with the device. It is unlikely I will avoid upgrading my phone after another year. I love the sturdiness and simplicity of the 7250, and I would like another Blackberry, but I doubt RIM will move away from some of their changes in design philosophy. On top of that, I am not sure how much time I want to spend configuring my phone to do what I want. After two years as an IT desktop tech support employee, working in a Windows environment, I only have patience for things that just work, and with minimal configuration.
Any suggestions or other views, please comment. I love Blackberries generally, and I want to continue to use them, but I am not sure I can with the current 8703e unless some new light is shed on the device. For now, my old and clunky 7250 will have to do.