How BlackBerry Overcame My Resistance To Touch Screens

How BlackBerry Overcame My Resistance To Touch Screens

How BlackBerry Overcame My Resistance To Touch Screens One of my main reasons for using a BlackBerry has always been that I do a lot of writing and text manipulation on my phone while travelling, and for those purposes a well-designed built-in keyboard is essential. But I’ve had to face facts: in recent months, I’ve been using its touch-screen interface a lot more than I realised.

I’ve been rocking the BlackBerry Torch as my main smart phone pretty much ever since it was launched last October. That in itself marks a significant change in my attitude towards earlier touch-screen BlackBerry devices. I described the original as having “the worst text input system I’ve ever seen on a portable device” and the Storm 2 as a “right royal pain” to type on; I didn’t stick with using either device any longer than it took to finish reviewing them.

The immediate and obvious difference with the Torch is that it has a proper slide-out keyboard, rather than a poorly-realised touch-screen interface. It also still has the joystick-like pointer control, which means that for existing BlackBerry users, you can pick it up and start using it straight away. And that was exactly what I did: I remember being at the media launch and navigating rapidly through apps in the usual way, while everyone around me was busy playing with the screen. I definitely liked the extra screen real estate, the ability to browse more complex sites and the overall BlackBerry 6 OS experience, but for me touch was just a minor useful addition, and one I didn’t see myself using too much.

That remains true when it comes to writing, handling email, browsing and using WordPress, which are my key BlackBerry tasks. But it was only when I started testing out the recently-released BlackBerry Bold 9780 — which offers the BlackBerry 6 OS experience but in a non-touch environment with a traditional BlackBerry form factor — that I realised that I do actually use the touch interface fairly often.

I’ve become used to flicking across from the main screen to access the connection manager on the phone’s frequently-used apps page. On the Bold, which only offers a single row of app icons by default, this is a rather more time-consuming task. I also now oscillate between using the control stick to launch new apps or simply touching them, although when switching between open apps I still find the non-touch version faster. And when I went to photograph the two devices and realised that the Torch was in fact filthy with fingerprints by comparison, I had to admit that my stance had obviously softened.

While I’m happy sticking to the Torch, the Bold 9780 still has appeal: Vodafone and 3 sell it on cheaper monthly caps than the Torch is available for, and it weighs noticeably less than the Torch. But for me, it’s served as a reminder that while I don’t want to touchscreen-type, I’m less opposed to touch interfaces than I used to be.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman clearly needs to start travelling with a packet of screen wipes. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • Screen protectors / wipes – All rubbish

    A bit of grease on the screen makes it good for navigating – only time I like to clean mine is for watching videos

    If needed – a buff on the shirt usualy cleans the screen satisfactorily – for dirtier screens – a moist tissue again followed by a dry buff

    2 years – these methods and my screen still looks pristine

    • I pretty much agree with this.

      I am inclined to use a screen protector as a lot of them have a nicer finish and thus your finger moves more smoothly on them when they are dirty.

      Shirt buffing is the way to clean it too 🙂

  • The Palm Pre did exactly the same thing for me. At first I was like ‘eww touchscreens!’ and I got the Pre to have hardware keyboard with touchscreen.

    I’ve since gone fully touchscreen (nexus one).

    Also, yeah, protectors etc are a load of crap. If you’re gonna do that, why not go ahead and put plastic over your lounge or a ‘car bra’ over your headlights and grill.

  • IMO Swype has gone a long way toward making the touchscreen a viable method for entering lots of text. I can’t Swype quite as fast as I can type on a full sized keyboard, but I reckon I could easily exceed the speed I could achieve on one of those dinky little keyboards like the Blackberry has.

      • I love the blackberry keyboards, but I haven’t been able to get up to quite the same speed on the 9700 and 9800 as I did on the bold 9000 – my fingers are just slightly too fat and unwieldy for them.

        However, RIM are apparently releasing a touchscreen phone with the same physical proportions as the 9000 later this year, so my dreams could be answered. I’ll certainly be grabbing a demo unit to see how it stacks up against the torch 2.

  • MMS on Torch: Does not resize images automatically, must set image size to small, then take photo to send. seems a lil silly, but there you go. Just saying, as I have had many calls from Torch users wondering why MMS send fails 😉

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!