BlackBerry OS 5

15May10

One of the side effects of getting a new machine was that I used BlackBerry Desktop for the first time in ages. When it started up I was offered an upgrade to the newer 5.x OS, which I went ahead with (luckily I wasn’t in a hurry). Here’s my experience of running the new OS on my 8900…

Icons

After the backup/upgrade/restore process was complete all of my icons were back to where they’d started life rather than where I’d left them, which then led to a little spell of hunt the app. The upgrade also reset my background. Pretty much everything else made it through unscathed, apart from…

SplashID

The main reason for plugging my BlackBerry into my new tablet was to sync stuff that I had saved in SplashID. This didn’t go well for me. When I found the app again and started it I was asked to set a password (rather than asked for a password), and all of my entries were garbled:( Luckily I was able to export what I had on the old netbook and import it onto the new desktop app, which then synced things back to my BlackBerry.

Twitter

I quite like the new Twitter app on the BlackBerry, but it went missing during the upgrade, meaning that I had to reinstall (at which point my BlackBerry said that the app was there, and that I was ‘upgrading’ to the same version). After reinstalling I had to set things up again, but that wasn’t too time consuming.

I still have one gripe about this app – why can’t it be launched without a network connection? It works fine for reading tweets when you lose the connection. One of the killer things about BlackBerry email is that it works pretty seamlessly between online and offline, and Twitter should be no different.

Battery consumption

In the last few weeks before the upgrade my battery life was becoming a real problem – I was struggling to make it through a busy day. This seemed pretty poor considering that when I got the machine a year ago it could go 2 days with ease and manage 3 a a stretch (and this is the primary advantage of having a 2.5G device rather than 3G). I blamed the Twitter app (as it was the thing that I’d installed most recently), and took care to have a USB charging cable with me.

Anyway, the post upgrade BlackBerry seems to be back to being able to cope with 2 days (even though I’m still running the Twitter app) so it seems that the new OS is doing some really smart things with power management.

Lock/unlock/standby

The good news – the spurious messages about standby mode that used to happen on pressing the mute button when locked seem to have gone away.

The bad news – unlocking seems to be less reliable than before. I sometimes need to press the unlock 2-3 times to get the unlock dialogue box to appear.

Performance

The clock mini icon still appears with annoying regularity, but maybe just a little less than before. Performance is certainly worse than when I ran without encryption, but that’s not really something I consider optional for a device with my contacts and company email on.

Overall

The main benefit of the upgrade is a return to decent battery life, and it was worth the (small amount of) trouble just for that. There are a few cosmetic touches that I could easily live without, and some niggles have come others have gone.

Amazingly it seems that very few BlackBerry users have gone down the upgrade route. I’d certainly recommend it if you’re on an older OS and having battery life issues.



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