This is a delayed post. I originally wrote this on a plane earlier this month. I’m just now getting around to editing and posting it

I’ve owned a Blackberry Storm 2 for about two years. It’s my work cell phone, or at least it was until I recently traded for a Motorola Droid 3. I’ve had the Droid now for a couple of weeks and I’m not sure I like it much better than the Blackberry. There are some specific reasons related to my job that I wanted to update to a Droid, but some of the inconveniences, not having the same features as my Blackberry did, are driving me a little crazy.

The first thing I tried to do on my new Droid was to customize the vibration sequences used for my various notifications. Blackberry allowed me to choose three different vibrations: short, medium and long, and three different patterns: single, two and three vibes. This worked out really well as I could use a single short vibration to indicate a new email had come, while I used two short vibrations to indicate an instant message of some sort. This helped me prioritize what I needed to respond to without having to look at the phone. With the Droid, I didn’t have any of those choices.

The Droid had one vibration, that was it. So I had to go out and find if there was an application to fix that for me. After searching for some time I came across Light Flow Lite. It had quite a few more features than the standard Droid set that came with the operating system. But it was still limited and in the end, I couldn’t really set up the specific signaling I had wanted. Even after setting things up using this app, some of the settings reset randomly and it was bothersome. I think it’s stable now so I can move on. My next problem was “holster” mode.

The Blackberry has a nice feature that detects when the phone is holstered. There is a magnetic sensor behind the display which triggers when the phone is put into a holster that has a small magnet embedded facing the display. This tells the phone to shut off the display and (more importantly) change to the holstered notifications. Why was this important for me? Because I had set all my notifications to trigger if the phone was holstered, but to silence everything except phone calls and instant messages if un-holstered. That way if I was in a meeting, I simply took my phone out, set it on the table and it would stay silent unless I got a call or IM, which I could then evaluate for importance. Droid doesn’t let me do that.

The Droid 3 doesn’t appear to have a magnetic sensor in it. The holster doesn’t appear to have a magnet in it either. There are no settings for holster mode. Looking at the app store, the only thing that even comes close are apps that sense when you have “pocketed” the phone. I’m not sure how it works, but it doesn’t work how I need it to. The trouble is, with the “pocket mode” app, the phone goes into the pocket mode even if I set it on the table. So I can’t actually assign different values for “in pocket” and “out of pocket.” Droid fail, that’s two for two now. How about email apps?

I was able to successfully set up my corporate email account and my personal email account. The initial problem I had was the inability to turn off my personal email on demand. When I’m at home, I don’t need to get my personal email on my phone. I get it at home. But when I’m traveling, I like to get personal email on my phone because I may not have access to the Internet using my Laptop for long periods of time. The Droid and Blackberry again work differently.

The Blackberry has an email filter option that basically allows me to turn off my personal email account. That’s very handy. The Droid however only gives me options to sync email every so often, like 15 minutes, 1 hour, etc. Even when I set it to sync manually, meaning wait until I tell it to sync, I find that the Droid OS resets that value back to 15 minute syncs, without me knowing about it. What to do?

In my case, I found that I could set the email account to only check email if connected to a Wifi network. Since I keep the Wifi turned off all the time except when I want it on, this worked out alright. I set my personal account to only check when connected to Wifi and then unset that when I go on a trip. So far so good. It’s a workaround, so we’ll call that one even. While we’re on email though, let’s talk about the keyboard.

I didn’t necessarily buy the Droid 3 for it’s slide out keyboard; I wanted certain other features that weren’t available in the other two phones I was considering. I tried the slide-out keyboard and it was difficult to use, so I tried the on screen keyboard. Holy Cats! When used in landscape, the on screen keyboard takes up nearly the entire screen, leaving me only two or three lines of the message visible. My old Blackberry had a -smaller- screen, yet the keyboard didn’t take up nearly as much room.

I had thought the larger keys of the Droid might allow me to type faster but I was wrong on that count as well. I still seemed to fat-finger keys that were close together, resulting in many spelling mistakes I’d have to go back and correct. This was annoying, however what was even more annoying was how the Droid wasn’t fixing certain words for me.

With the Blackberry, I was used to the system putting in apostrophes where needed in contractions. In other words, if I typed “dont” the system would automatically fix it to read “don’t” instead. If I typed a lower case “i” followed by a regular space, it would automatically make it an uppercase “I” for me. This saved me a lot of typing time. I can’t find where to make this same thing happen in the Droid 3 and it’s driving me crazy because I’m always having to go back and insert apostrophes and fix my I’s. Droid Fail, three out of four now.

What does the Droid do better than Blackberry? That might be hard to answer since the inconveniences for me seem to outweigh the pluses. For starters, the Droid does have more apps available for it, and some of the apps I used to have on the Blackberry are available for the Droid but with more options.

I specifically wanted the Droid because there were several remote display applications; Blackberry didn’t have any that were free and in fact, only one that I could find. Since I’m focusing on some work that needs to replicate my laptop display to my phone, the droid became an obvious choice. I was able to get one with a larger screen than my Blackberry, though not as large as the Droid RAZR or Bionic. Those were just too big. I’ve installed and tested software and found it to work as I expect, so the Droid does excel in that regard. But was it worth it for just that and a few other simple apps?

I think the jury is still out. Right now I’d prefer my old Blackberry. I never really had any problems with it like so many of my coworkers did. They all lauded the benefits and stability of Droid but once I got one, I’m not so sure I believe them, and when checking back with them on things I find, it turns out they’ve seen the same thing too but just ignore it. Sure, Blackberry was targeted to the business person and I think it excels at that. I think it’s a shame more apps aren’t made for the Blackberry but I guess that’s partially understandable, being closed source. But the Apple iPhone is closed source as well and there are a lot more apps for that. Well, don’t get me started, that’s an entirely different rant.

Droid 1
Blackberry 3

Too bad I’m not a developer or I’d make my own apps to fix these things to work the way -I- want them to. Gee, I kind of wish someone else would.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton