The first thing I do when using a new cellphone is get to know it as well as possible. I delve into the depths of its interface in an attempt to familiarize myself with all of its features and functionality. With “normal” phones I have used such as the Nokia N95 or the Samsung F480 (not comparing the two), this task can take up to a week. Ever since I started using my BlackBerry Bold, which is around 3 months ago, I have been trying to get to know the device, and the learning curve is not over yet. I am discovering new things about the Bold almost every day, some good and some very bad.
One of the things I discovered yesterday, and I think I knew already somewhere in the back of my head but chose to ignore, is that is has a maximum of 128 MBs of application memory. Before you freak out, let me explain. The device comes with 1GB of built in memory. The 1GB is then split up into data memory and application memory. The data memory is where you can store pictures, music, videos etc. and the application memory is used for all your applications. Of course the device also supports a Micro SD card of up to 32 GBs.
This is of course a major problem. In fact, it might be a deal breaker for me. When I got the Bold, one of the reasons I said I prefer it over the iPhone 3GS is its ability to run background apps. However, if the device only supports up to 128 MBs worth of apps, out of which over 80 is already taken up by the OS, the languages, and other things preinstalled, having the ability to run background apps does not help me very much. Like I said, I am discovering new things about the Bold daily, some better than others.
On to better topics. Some of the amazing things I have discovered is that the BlackBerry in general, and the Bold specifically have a lot of very useful shortcuts and capabilities. The thing is, a lot of BlackBerry users use their device mainly for email and do not even approach its full potential. In fact, someone asked me yesterday how to easily lock the device, which I figured out in the first 5 minutes using the device. I therefore decided to share some useful tips on how to maximize your experience with the BlackBerry Bold, and I am sure a majority of the following tips apply to all BlackBerrys as well.
The following is a list of the most important BlackBerry usability tips:
- Lock your Device: Everyone knows that one of the biggest advantages of using a BlackBerry is its spacious and comfortable keyboard. However, it wont be so comfortable if it dials your boss’ number while in your pocket when you are supposed to be out sick, and you are at the mall. So to lock your device, simply press the * button for two seconds and walla, your device is locked. To unlock it, as the phone tells you, press the * and then the “Send” button.
- Silence your Device: Another very crucial shortcut. Press the # button for two seconds and the phone interchanges between the last two profiles you used. So if you usually use the General and the Vibrate profiles, pressing the # for two seconds will activate whichever one of those two profiles is not currently active.
- Maximize your Home Screen: The home screen of the BlackBerry is where you spend most of your time. If there are certain features or apps you use more often, they should appear on the home screen, so you do not need to dig through the menus every time you want to use them. To do this, you need to find and select the respective icon, press Menu then Move. You then move that icon to to the top of the main menu, and it will appear on your home screen. Now here is the catch, the default theme displays 5 icons on the home screen. If you use 10 apps regularly, you need to find a theme that has 10 icons on the home screen. There are thousands of free themes to be downloaded. You can start by searching here, but good old Google might pan out to be a useful tool.
- Optimize your Battery Life: This is not as unique to BlackBerry as the previous tips, but with the advanced features offered by most BlackBerrys and smartphones, battery life has become an issue. To preserve your battery, set your screen brightness to its lowest setting. I know it might sound like it would affect the clarity of the screen, but trust me, mine has been like that from day one, and the clarity of the Bold’s display still blows my mind. Another tip is when you are at work or in front of a computer, turn off your data, so your 3G/Wifi is disabled and not drowning your battery. You can do this by going to Options>Mobile Network>Data Services and turning it off. Lastly, this is something I only recently discovered, to save more battery life, make sure your GPS radio is turned off. You can do that by going to Options>Advanced Options>GPS>GPS Services and turning Location off. Obviously, don’t forget to turn it back when you want to use the device’s GPS.
- Monitor your Background Apps: As I mentioned, one of the greatest advantages of the BlackBerry and most smartphones over the iPhone is the ability to run background apps. This means that if you are a Twitter user and choose to be notified when someone replies to you, you do not need to sit in front of Twitter all day, you just run a Twitter app in the background. Same goes for IM, Facebook, or any other app. The problem this causes for most people is that they run an app and when they are done, they press End, sending the app to the background where it continues to use data, battery, and memory. If you want to know what is running in the background at any point, press Alt and the Back button, and you will bring up a nice display of all your running apps. You can then select one, and exit it. In general, a good tip is to exit every app properly by clicking Menu>Exit from within the app.
There are literally tens more of useful tips and shortcuts available on the BlackBerry Bold. Anything from switching input type from letters to numbers, to freeing up some application memory so your device runs faster. One more thing I would tell every BlackBerry user to do is read CrackBerry daily, they always share great info on new apps, tricks, and firmware upgrades.
If you have anything you want to know how to do, please ask in the comments, but you can be sure this is only a first post in a series about useful BlackBerry tips. If you know of a good tip, what better place to share it then in the comments below?
See some more useful tips in the video below!