Remembering BlackBerry

The fall of BlackBerry has me reminiscing about one of the best business phones I've owned.

BB 8830
Image credit: Verizon

The web is full of stories about the rise and fall of mighty BlackBerry and I don't intend to rehash the crash. I have instead been giving thought to one of the best business phones I've ever owned-- the BlackBerry 8830 world phone.

I bought the 8830 years ago on iPhone launch day. I remember vividly seeing countless stories about the massive lines at both Apple stores and AT&T outlets. Those were the only two places you could get an iPhone back then.

There were no lines at the Verizon store that day. It only took me five minutes to walk in and out of the Verizon store with a brand new BlackBerry 8830, duly activated.

At that time I was working in my previous career as a geophysicist and the 8830 was exactly what I needed. The most important feature for me was communication with my clients. That meant voice calls, email, and text messaging in that order.

The BlackBerry 8830 was fantastic for all three of those functions. It was great for voice calls even in spotty signal areas, which were common at that time. It was able to get me the email I needed in those same areas when other phones failed miserably.

It was a world phone, too, which came into play when I travelled internationally. It handled both CDMA and GSM, a rarity at the time. I bought a SIM from Verizon for international trips and while expensive, it kept me in touch with all my clients which was a real boon.

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The hardware of the 8830 was typical BlackBerry, especially the physical QWERTY keyboard. The sculpted keys facilitated typing email with ease. The little trackball beneath the screen was a fantastic way to move the cursor around the screen quickly. That was significant as there was no touch screen on the BlackBerry at that time.

The BlackBerry 8830 served me well and was the consummate business communication device. I was almost never out of touch with my clients, and that was a very big deal.

The BlackBerry Storm that came later replaced my aging 8830 and as it ended up was not as functional for my work needs. While the big touch screen of the Storm had tactile feedback when clicking and typing, the OS wasn't up to snuff compared to the new iPhone and Android phones. 

While the 8830 was a fantastic communications device, it didn't compare with the touchscreen smartphones hitting the market. It competed with them for a while as it handled communications better then new smartphones while falling short in the web browsing and app departments.

BlackBerry got in real trouble when competing smartphones caught up with the consistent communication features BlackBerries had long been famous for. The competition ended up doing that as well as BlackBerry, and the web/app functionality they also provided soon left BlackBerry in the dust. The rest, as they say, is history.

I still remember that BlackBerry 8830 fondly. It saved my bacon with clients more times than I can count, and did so simply and with panache.