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I just spent 6 weeks with an iPhone 5C. About 3 weeks in, I thought I had convinced myself that this was it. This was the closest to smartphone nirvana I had ever gotten, and there was no way I could see myself going back to BlackBerry after experiencing the rich, well-designed, and well-implemented iOS and Apple ecosystem.

Last week, I switched back to the only BlackBerry device I own that is compatible with my current carrier (Verizon) – my stalwart and rock-solid BlackBerry Bold 9930.

Scratching your head on that one? I’m still trying to figure it out, myself. But here I am, enjoying every click of that physical keyboard, every blink of that notification LED, and trying to sort out the decision my subconscious brain has obviously already made.

So far, I think I’ve figured out at least one major piece of this puzzle.

Connections

Elder José A. Teixeira recently spoke some universal truths related to this fascinating photo:

“In 2014, the National Geographic photo contest received more than 9,200 submissions by professional photographers and enthusiasts from over 150 countries. The winning photo depicts a woman in the center of a train filled with passengers. The light coming from her mobile phone illuminates her face. She relays a clear message to the other passengers: despite being physically present, she is not truly there.

“Mobile data, smartphones, and social networks have profoundly changed our way of being in the world and how we communicate with others.

“In this digital era, we can so rapidly transport ourselves to places and activities that can quickly remove us from what is essential for a life filled with lasting joy.

“This networked life can, if left unchecked, give precedence to relationships with people whom we don’t know or have never met rather than with the people we live with—our own family!

“The choices and priorities we make with our time online are decisive. They can determine our spiritual progress and maturity … and our desire to contribute to a better world and to live a more productive life.” (Source)

These words have stayed with me since I first heard them. And it has since become clearer to me that the time I spend glued to a screen really can have significant impact on my life and the lives of others.

I’ve done a lot of introspection on this. How many times when my wife or child needed my attention have I said “sorry, I’m busy” because I was transfixed on my smartphone/tablet/laptop/etc. but not really doing anything that was truly important enough to ignore them? How many times have more important things been left undone or unfinished because it was more enticing and easier for me to putz around on my phone? More times than I care to admit.

It’s not bad to be connected to the digital world. It’s not bad to use technology to help us accomplish things and to better ourselves. The free exchange of information and ideas we are witnessing today is nothing short of miraculous. But there are other important connections in our lives. The relationships we have in the “real world” with family and loved ones are essential to our health, well-being, and happiness. And though these kinds of connections don’t require keeping a device charged or connecting to a WiFi network, they do require significant time and attention to maintain.

A few days ago, I went into my son’s room and just started playing with some of his toys. I knew that soon he would discover what I was up to and want to join me, and he did. We had the most wonderful time playing with a toy pirate ship and action figurines. It seems like such a simple thing, but that time we spent together was more precious than anything I could do on a smartphone.

It’s because I want to establish and strengthen more meaningful connections and more easily weed out the distractions that I’m sticking with BlackBerry.

The “gadget distractification effect”

All smartphone users can relate to the following scenario. You pick up your phone with the sole intention of writing a quick text message. An hour later, after you’ve checked your Facebook news feed for the 27th time, watched 8 YouTube videos, and had a back-and-forth conversation with someone on Twitter arguing about Star Trek vs Star Wars, you’re playing Candy Crush when you suddenly realize you haven’t sent the text message yet.

This is what I refer to as the “gadget distractification effect” (I know distractification is not a real word, but it’s hipster and cool-sounding) – the ability gadgets have to keep us distracted, entertained, and otherwise transfixed on their glowing screens, oblivious to the real world around us. They’re circuit board sirens, luring us away in to the endless fathoms of cat videos and flappy bird clones.

I kid you not, it was during a game of Candy Crush that I just stopped and asked myself: “what am I doing?” and decided I wanted to go back to BlackBerry. I realized I had allowed myself to be sucked in yet again, and that it had become really easy to do. I was better able to avoid being distractified on a BlackBerry – especially those of the Bold/Q10/Classic form factor.  It’s just not a pleasant experience for me to watch videos or play games on them. And really, that’s not what they’re designed or intended for.

BlackBerry phones are different

Apple and Google may want you to believe otherwise, but iPhones and Android phones are designed with content (videos, music, apps, books, ads, etc.) consumption as their primary functions. Of course they can also be used to communicate, create, and be productive, but that is not their primary focus. Windows Phones offer another solid option, but they don’t have access to the vast content of iOS and Android (although this will supposedly change with Windows 10, which allegedly will be able to run ported Android and iOS apps) and they don’t do communication, productivity, and security/privacy as well as BlackBerry. Windows Phone has only managed to surpass BlackBerry in mobile phone market share due to a combination of BlackBerry’s decline, Microsoft’s ability to throw truck loads of money at WP and continue to support it despite it not being popular or profitable, and targeting the very low-end smartphone market with cheap Lumias.

Then there’s BlackBerry. As I mentioned, they design their handsets around communication, productivity, security, and privacy. They’ve got decades of experience in those areas, which is why they are still sought out by enterprise and government customers (and individual customers who value those things) and why the company has refocused on those strengths during their steady comeback from the brink of implosion nearly 2 years ago.

This is not to say that BlackBerry phones aren’t good for content consumption. Several BB10 apps are among the best I’ve seen in terms of design and functionality on any platform I’ve used (and I’ve used all the major ones). They are also great at digital content such as audio, video, and books (the Passport was designed for easier reading). That these features could be appreciated by the average smartphone user does not negate the fact that they are primarily intended for the power/business user.

It’s precisely because BlackBerry phones are designed for the “prosumer” that they have the ability to do just about anything else that can be done on any other platform.

Redefining average

The very nature and focus of BlackBerry devices has provided an option that is not attractive to the average smartphone user.

But the past 6 weeks have reaffirmed to me one very important fact about myself:

I am not an average smartphone user. And I don’t want to be.

If the average smartphone sees it as a way to disconnect from the world and people around him – to ignore or hide from life for a while, that’s not for me. We all need downtime, but too much can be counter-productive and self-destructive.

I want my phone to be a way to connect and reconnect with people and the world around me. I want it to be a means, not an end. I want it to enhance and brighten life, not obstruct or obscure it.

The average smartphone user doesn’t mind being glued to his screen, and Google and Apple are more than happy to oblige as they rake in the cash. BlackBerry, on the other hand, focuses on creating hardware and software that gets out of your way so you don’t have to be glued to your screen – so you can create, do, feel, connect…so you can live.

Of course BlackBerry devices have their drawbacks. Every device and mobile OS does. I always say that, when it comes to choosing the technology you use, you have to decide which strengths you want and which weaknesses you are willing to live with.

I’m drawn back to BlackBerry every time because they are the best at helping me compensate for my own set of weaknesses.

Meaningful connections require self-discipline

Short of switching to a basic flip phone or ditching a mobile phone altogether, the only surefire way to ensure we are devoting the time and attention needed to nurture and maintain those meaningful real-world relationships is to develop self-control and self-discipline. We need to train ourselves to recognize when the “gadget destractification effect” is setting in and have the courage and desire to set the device aside and focus our efforts on more important things.

I’m trying to develop a greater degree of self-discipline when it comes to the technology I use. I’m even considering trying a basic/feature phone for a while to really reset my priorities and focus. If I choose to use a smartphone, it’s obvious that BlackBerry is the best option for me according to my personal preferences and style. It certainly has a better chance of helping me cultivate the balance I’m seeking when compared to the other available options.

Using technology to strengthen real connections

When used in the right way, smartphones can actually strengthen and enhance important “analog” (real-life) relationships with our loved ones. It has never been easier or cheaper to video chat, instant message, have a phone/voice call, and exchange photos/files with someone half a world away. But as amazing as those communication methods are, they are poor substitutes for an in-person visit, a heart-to-heart conversation, or quality time together. We have to be careful not to let the digital connections in our lives supplant or take precedence over the analog connections.

We are also entitled to privacy and security in our digital lives, and while BlackBerry’s very best privacy/security features are still reserved for enterprise customers or individuals willing to pay for them, BlackBerry phones still provide the best overall security of any smartphone out-of-the-box. You cannot jailbreak or root a BlackBerry. They support full-device encryption, allow you to define specific permissions on native apps, and do not collect your personal information for the purpose of targeted advertising.

BlackBerry phones are built from the ground up to be the best mobile communication and productivity devices on the planet. And they are indeed the best at what they are designed do: maintain and strengthen interpersonal connections and get things done.

The ideal mobile lifestyle

Everyone is different. That’s what makes this world beautiful. We all have different goals, aspirations, likes, dislikes, experiences, hopes, and fears. So, naturally, we all want something different out of the technology use. There is no one-size-fits-all mobile device or platform. They all have their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. It comes down to the individual and what he chooses to integrate into his mobile lifestyle.

I feel like I’m still searching for my own ideal mobile lifestyle – for that balance between the analog and digital worlds. But I’m getting closer. My curiosity and enthusiasm for technology have impelled me to try a variety of different devices and platforms. I have learned from each and every experience and wouldn’t change a thing.

And though I will more than likely venture to try different devices and platforms again in the future, in the end I always seem to come back to BlackBerry. Their phones are the most empowering for the mobile lifestyle I’m seeking.

I also believe in and respect the company’s vision for the future. It’s a future in which technology adds to and enhances life rather than hinders or distracts from it. A future where people and things are more connected, where ideas and information are freely exchanged. Safely and securely. It’s a promising and bright future, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Author Dallin Crump

Full-time Clark Kent, part-time Superman. A self-described "geek" with a knack for writing and a passion for all technology, especially if it is produced by BlackBerry. BBM Channel: C003C2D50

More posts by Dallin Crump
  • Prakash

    I use a BlackBerry z10. Though it has so much of RAM space, it has never made me download or side load any gaming or other apps that make u stick to the screen. Why is that??? Its so simple because this device has always made see it has a tool that makes my professional and personal life much more simpler and better. I have never looked this device as a multimedia entertainer. Such a life enhancing tool with its intuitive UI. Only the BlackBerry boys could understand what I am trying to say….

  • J.D.L

    This is the best written article I’ve ever had the pleasure to read in regards to explaining and summing up the use of different mobile platforms. We all have gotten in the debate with others about why we love our Blackberries…

    • Dallin Crump

      Wow! Thank you!

    • Sopan

      Prakash. Agree with you Brother. I am Z10 User too.

  • JBravo

    A very nice read.

    • Dallin Crump

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Agent Orange

    Well written. The only thing IOS and Android do better is probably market there devices because at the end of the day personal preference according to necessity will determine which phones people buy. If blackberry had that kind of media exposure as ios and android it probably would never have gone into that steep a decline to begin with. I have a passport and z30 and i use them both for my business. And cannot find a single reason to switch. Many ios n android users have tried. And their isnt anything truly convincing except i can get different apps nut even those apps can b ported to blackberry so what else does an individual really need

    • Dallin Crump

      I do wish BlackBerry would kick their marketing efforts up a few notches, but I can understand where their focus is right now and I’m okay with that. I do hope to see things improve, eventually.

  • Anthon Jackman

    All I’m going to say is TRUTH! All of it…

    • Dallin Crump

      Thanks! :)

  • ELLAS

    One area BlackBerry can learn from Apple is Marketing and Advertising. And it’s ecosystem in terms of how all there devices marry together with each other.
    But when it comes to communications, messaging and email, and total OS interface, BB10 greatly excels.

    • Dallin Crump

      I think the iMessage and FaceTime integration with the OS and contacts is a good example of what I’m talking about. Also, the ability to receive OS updates independent of carriers.

  • Joshua Maula

    Great article sir! I’m not alone. I still use my BlackBerry Curve 9360 despite receiving an Android as a gift. Nothing beats the simplicity and efficiency of the BBs. Is a Bold 9900 a good replacement for my curve? If not, do you recommend the Classic even though I already have an Android device? Thank you Mr. Crump!

    • Dallin Crump

      If you absolutely cannot part with legacy BlackBerry phones, I think the 9900 is the best all-around. But my sincere advice is make the jump to the Classic. BB10 is the future and has so many great features you won’t find in a legacy BlackBerry. It’s being actively developed and improved, whereas legacy BlackBerry devices are dying a slow death as support winds down. And you’ll absolutely love Blend!

  • ELLAS

    Nevertheless a well written article.
    Thank You,

  • ELLAS

    The author lost me when he mentioned “”” rich, well-designed, and well-implemented iOS”””. iOS is anything but and quite irritating to use. Especially when it takes the user many more steps to get basic things done.
    But of course many may not realize this without using a BB10 based smart phone such as the Z30 for example.

    • Dallin Crump

      I think it comes down to personal preference. Sure, there are always things they could improve, but I think Apple has done a pretty good job and there are a few things BlackBerry could learn from them.

    • Josh Wedekind

      Truth. Apple technology lags so far behind BlackBerry 10.3.1 that I frequently catch myself making fun of people struggling to use their new iPhone 6/6+’s as I pull out my Passport and perform the same task with ease.
      1. The iOS web browser is less compliant.
      2. You can’t reach the top menu on an iPhone 6+ without straining your thumb.
      3. The typing experience sucks, and I can barely read some of the text messages I receive from iPhone users.
      4. I laugh everytime I see someone have to turn their phone sideways just to record video. Or worse, watch them forget to turn their phone sideways…
      5. They don’t have access to their underlying Unix apps.
      6. You can’t decently edit a movie on iOS without paid apps.
      7. Emails and attachments.
      8. USB file explorer? Forget it.
      9. Good luck with Exchange/Outlook Calendar attachments.
      10. … I could go on and on. After all, I’m typing this on my BlackBerry, and it’s fun.

  • Szymon

    Great read. I’ve switched from iOS to Android 4 years ago and got my first BlackBerry device (Passport) two weeks ago. I’m just loving everything about it. Now, I can’t imagine using anything else. It’s amazing.

    • Dallin Crump

      Thanks! And welcome to Team BlackBerry!

  • mikhail k

    A little hipsterish but I liked your view on technology being a potential hindrence to connection.

    • Dallin Crump

      Exactly the vibe I was going for! ;) Thanks for the feedback.

  • aks

    Using blackberry from Bold 9780, 9900, z10 and now only one is having is Passport. Very well said. We need phone to be productive and do things faster so that we can have time for real world. That’s where there is nothing can match the BLACKBERRY. Passport is a great tool. It’s awesome. Passport does all the things that we desire for. The best keyboard, the best messenger BBM, the best video call, the best audio call, the best text message the best reader on a web page.. the long list is there..

  • Mark Bortis

    Brilliant article. I have used just about all devices but I found I needed a tool. Something to help me achieve my goals. Not a distraction. It had to come with well built apps, not having to buy them all to get it up and running and functional. BlackBerry wins every time. I appreciate the security, and love the speed and functionality. Computers, servers, power tools and BlackBerry help me achieve my goals. Z30 for now :)

    • Dallin Crump

      Thanks! The great thing about BlackBerry phones is that they are designed to be tools, but they CAN be toys if you want them to. :)

    • sanjeet ghorpade

      n abt d camera ??? [both] (z30)

  • Avnesh Sharma

    It is really wonderful angle of observing the use of real-tech in real-life. Thanks for writing such a nice article.
    It’s true, and I am surprised, what these App makers and Game makers are up to? clearly they are thief of our time.

    You may be surprised, some years back when I was in search of a good business phone and when I new BlackBerry Curve does not allow web browsing on standard BES plan I was so glad that I just bought one with that plan and used for 2.5 years very productively.

    When it came to replace my Curve for a new touch device, I could not choose from wast range of Android phones (somehow it felt something missing in them), finally ended with buying Z10, and after some weeks of use I wondered that even in touch screen devices why all the best-of-best ideas came to only BlackBerry team?

    Heard from somewhere that there are phones which are Toys, but BlackBerry is a Tool.
    My person opinion is that all other phones are focused on ‘How you can pass your time’ while BlackBerry’s focus is on ‘How you can save your time’

    • Dallin Crump

      Excellent points! I like that! Other phones: how can you pass your time, BlackBerry: how can you save time. Brilliant.

  • Miguel Ramirez

    What a great article, i was waiting a long time for read, something so good like this. I was thinking I was crazy because I preferred use my BlackBerry 9790 i this days of big screens and a lot of apps. Well done mister Crump.

    • Dallin Crump

      Thank you, sir! We are not alone!

  • Venky Sankaran

    Wonderful piece. I’m sure most of us can see our own self feel our own similar smartphone experience as we read through. Alluring as the iPhones and Android devices may seem, I always come back to staying with my , and not become victim of compulsive Serengeti Syndrome – the annual migratory temptation towards Apple and Samsung.

    Very well written.

    • Dallin Crump

      You’re very gracious, thank you! I’m glad this piece resonated with you. It’s one of my personal favorites.

  • Will

    Very nicely put, bang on in fact. I am currently going through a similar dilemma, been a Blackberry guy since I don’t know when, recently switched to (tested the water with) Sony Xperia but keep my Q5 as a back up….then saw the Blackberry Leap will soon be released here (Malaysia) even went looking for it when I KNOW it’s not even in stores yet…what does that tell you??

    Thanks again for the article, hits all the right nails on the head!

    • Dallin Crump

      Thanks for the great feedback! The Leap is an excellent device for the price. I’m sure you’d really enjoy it.

  • Getnet

    by the way Mr crump I’m BlackBerry fans started using it early on BlackBerry Bold 9650… you know what I’m living in Ethiopia where there is no blackberry service as a whole.. but I love BlackBerry because I’m satisfied with it.. my current device is Z10 and think to switch to BlackBerry Leap.. I’m never ever think of changing my phone other than BlackBerry!!!!!

    • Dallin Crump

      I really liked the Z10’s screen and size. The Leap looks like a solid phone at a great price point. Glad you are enjoying your BlackBerry phones!

  • Marc

    I observed this myself as I recently got a Nexus 5 as a second device. As useful as Android can be in one aspect or another, I find myself mindlessly staring into my Nexus. I feel used by it rather than the reverse. My BlackBerry Q10 has been trusty and reliable, more of a companion than anything. People I work with all have iPhones and various Android devices, and they effectively disappear into them. I feel even when my phone distracts me I’m still somewhat present. This article highlights a lot of what I have been feeling lately about smartphones in general. I enjoyed reading this article and feel a little more justified in keeping my BlackBerry.

    • Dallin Crump

      Thank you for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I feel the same way about using a phone vs being used by it.

  • Edrian0624

    I am using BlackBerry Z10 right now and I can feel how you feel of getting glued to my phone and forget to give quality time with my family. Sometimes my finance is mad at me every time i’m on my phone playing Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Reading this made me realize how important giving your time with your love ones.

    • Dallin Crump

      It’s amazing how much of a pull these little devices have on us sometimes. We all have to find that balance. Thanks for reading!

  • Alan

    Bravo! Loved your article Dallin Crump. You appear to have a very healthy perspective on all things mobile and all the things that are (or should be) mostly important in our lives (people and the way we interact with them). Truly Inspirational, and clear thinking. It is difficult for me to choose my favourite part of the article but I will borrow from the end of the article by paraphrasing: “…where ideas and information are freely exchanged, safely and securely as a means to a better, and brighter future… is very promising. Of course the whole of your article is so much more than any of its’ parts. Long live BlackBerry, and freedom, and privacy… Truly as you say it is exciting to be part of it. To be a part of BlackBerry. Long live BlackBerry.

    • Dallin Crump

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed writing this one.