For those that know me and those that have read my blog, or seen posts on my new 50Percent Facebook page, I do like my tech & gadgets.
Following about 6 months of frustration with my Nokia E6, which on the plus side had brilliant battery life (approx 3 days), fantastic build quality, lovely keyboard, amazing 8MP camera, nice looking operating system. But on the negative, the Symbian operating system is slugish and did lock-up sometimes, the twitter/facebook app was poor, No Spotify app and I find apps continue to run in the background and keep data open when not in use.
I had brought a Nokia E6 offline, so was now due an upgrade with my network provider, Vodafone UK.
When it comes to phones, I’m in the minority where although I like to have the latest tech, improvements in speed, screen clarity, picture quality, sound quality and a qwerty keyboard, a thousand different Apps don’t interest me. I have basic requirements but I want my phone to do them well…
I can tell you what I want in one sentence all the boxes my phone must Tick: Qwerty keyboard for Email / Text, Phone, good Camera, a good battery and can run a small number of Apps incl; Spotify, Twitter/Facebook, FourSquare, a GPS SportsTracker and if possible a built in Sat Nav.
It would seem the Market to meet my requirement is rather narrow as everyone nowadays is going for bigger, better and brighter screens… which you either need a man-bag to carry, or it looks like you have a semi if it’s in your trouser pocket!
Anyway, moving away from the phallic references, after looking around at what was available in my local Vodafone store, I’ve always preferred the hands on approach, I decided I’d give the Blackberry 9900 a go. I liked the Nokia E6’s combination of the Touch Screen and Qwerty and I’d heard some people rate the newer Blackberry OS, so thought why not.
The specs read quite well; 1.2ghz processor, 8GB onboard memory and space for a microSD, 5MP camera which can record in HD, Qwerty keyboard, Touch screen and it’ll run my basic requirements of Apps.. So I ordered one. It was the usual hard-slog of a trick having to go via the Vodafone retentions team and asking very nicely for the best deal while leaning on the fact you might leave them… and I was fortunate the nice lady took kindly to my charm, gave me a free handset on a tariff that they’d normally want a £99 handset charge, on an 18month contract! Though it still annoys me that A) they’ve abolished 12month contracts and B) that you HAVE to ask for the best deals, why can’t they just look after me, their loyal customer whom they love so dearly and want to keep….
The first handset failed to materialise after a package on the courier van carrying it exploded and covered all the other packages, including my phone, in a toxic liquid. I only found this out because the package didn’t arrive, I chased the courier, who advised me. I then told Vodafone who did nothing about until 24hours later I rang them again to ask where my replacement was, to then be told… “oh, I see your note, let me ring the courier and check…” I hung around on-hold and was then advised my new handset would be dispatched shortly. I did ask the customer service agent why I had to chase them instead of them acting on my phone the previous day, to be advised that he was sorry, he’d feedback my concern, la la la… the usual customer service bullsh*t to get you off the phone.
The day then came when my handset arrived. I got home from work Friday to a package containing the little black box and my new Blackberry Bold 9900. I unpackaged it, put in my sim card, MicroSD card and turned on the device. After it had finished loading I went through the Set-Up process, selecting a BB UserName etc and attaching one of my email accounts to the device. At this point the battery was around 70% and I proceeded to set up my Twitter & Facebook accounts, along with Spotify and FourSquare. I had a look on the Blackberry App store for a Tweetdeck type tool but couldn’t find one, but while looking around the phone discovered “Social Feeds” which had automatically associated my Facebook & Twitter accounts to it, when I logged into them via the pre-installed Apps. I then added a few other of my favourite Apps including LastPass, GoogleMaps & WordPress. I noticed that in the hour or so of using my phone the battery had dropped by over 25%.
I then explored the phone and made some commonsense tweaks, like disabling the Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, lowering the screen brightness, putting the phone into 2G (not 3G/2G) and also disabling the polling & notifications on Facebook. I noticed almost immediately that Facebook had ignored my notification settings as I was getting told that people had “liked” and commented on my status about the new Blackberry… I continued to try and tweak this but it ignored my request, so the only resolution was to go through the profile and disable the sound on Facebook, to remove the annoying pinging! Looking on google this seems to be known issue…
I charged the Blackberry full that evening and went to bed around 2am.
I woke Saturday morning to find that the battery had decreased by around 25% in 6 hours!
I tried to make further tweaks and changes over the weekend and despite hardly using the handset on Sunday and the phone being in a state that was less active than a student on a weekday morning, the battery was almost dead after about 7 hours, which is frustrating, confusing & disappointing that considering Blackberrys are renowned for their long battery life, mine couldn’t even manage half a day!
So I charged the phone again over night and unplugged the handset at around 8am this morning.
I received 2 short calls and read no more than 3 emails on the Blackberry, yet by half 9am, the battery had decreased by 12%, which by my calculations, even in a dormant state the charge wouldn’t last til 5pm!! So I called Vodafone UK and spoke to a member of their brainless (yes, you’ll see why) technical support team.
The first guy I explained the problem to said he wasn’t aware of a battery problem with the Blackberry Bold 9900, I asked him if he’d ever heard of Google and the million+ results when you search for Blackberry 9900 battery problems… I then explained all the settings I had tweaked and I mentioned the facebook notifications, he decided I needed a software / firmware update. He checked on the Blackberry page and told me that version 7.1.0 was available and I should install the Blackberry Desktop manager and update! I had already seen articles about this update in the USA / Canada and that users had comments it improved the battery, but I’d also seen another article from mid January from a UK user saying the update had yet to be released to the UK. I asked the technical support guy 3 or 4 times, whether he was sure this update was available to me and he said Yes.
So despite my better judgment, I downloaded the 117MB file from the Blackberry website, backed up my phone, clicked Update, to be advised that I was on the most current version! I was now rather p*ssed off.
I rang back Vodafone Technical support, asked for a Manager and was advised none were available, but I could have a call back within 24hours! Which I declined and brainless Techie number 2 asked what the problem was… he read the notes of the previous guy, then decided that I had a faulty handset or battery and would send me a new one! I did explain that there were hundreds & thousands of articles online about this issue, which he refused to acknowledge and said that Vodafone had sold over a million Blackberry Bold 9900’s and this was not an issue affecting other customers!!
By this time I was fed up with the Vodafone Tech departments ignorance and narrow-mindedness so just agreed to swapping the handset. However I wasn’t done with accepting a swap was the only option and while scouring another Blackberry Forum I found a thread between a few users that said they believed the in-built Social Feeds was the cause of severe battery loss.
SO, I thought f*ck and decided to kill two swans with one monkey wrench and deleted both Facebook, with it’s annoying ignorant notifications, along with Social Feeds! And would you believe it, in the 2 hours that followed, I received a couple of phone calls, read a few emails and lost only 3% battery!
I rang Vodafone UK back to tell them they were morons and was put through a Manager on the Tech support desk, a foreign lady (had a very strong accent that wasn’t British) who reviewed the notes, apologised a lot and accepted that I found out more in 3 hours of research online than the Tech support desk at Vodafone knew!! She spent the entire 20min conversation telling me she’d address the problem with the individuals line manager as a training issue… but as I repeated several times, I spoke to more than 1 Techie and they were both using the same Vodafone Tech knowledge database! So why after releasing this handset 6 months, were they not aware of this problem, why are they ignorant to the Blackberry online user forums, why was I being mis-informed & wasted time downloading computer software and why were Vodafone wasting their own money sending out a handset that wasn’t required!
Needless to say, the conversation ended with the Vodafone Technical Support manager thanking me for identifying this issue, would pass my feedback to the rest of the team and she credited my account with a month’s free line rental!
I’m also happy to advise, that it’s now almost 9pm, my phone has been on for almost 13 hours and apart from a 15min window around midday when I plugged the Blackberry into my Laptop to back-up and check for updates, the battery is at 64%! Which is a massive improvement.
So the Tip at the end of this blog. Always question Tech Support, don’t take what they tell you as absolute correct, do your online research on user forums, a group of users is more than likely trial & error correct.
And if you have a Blackberry Bold 9900 that drops battery quicker than I drink rum ! (which is quick) then along with lowering the power consuming settings, delete Social Feeds and Facebook! Facebook can be accessed through a web browser on http://m.facebook.com which means no annoying notifications and it can’t snoop / steal your contacts on your phone either!
Incase you’re in any doubt, here is a pic with the offending App Highlighted: