The home screen still has a notifications area at the top, a blank section in the middle and a series of shortcuts at the bottom but now it’s been further subdivided. At the very top is the general info section showing time, date, battery status and such like, which when clicked on brings up a menu with options for adjusting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mobile Network, Alarm and various other settings.
Below this is a separate notifications area showing how many emails, messages and other social network messages or updates you’ve got. Tap it and it extends to reveal a full chronological list of all your messaging updates and calendar appointments. It’s so basic yet so brilliant, giving you a one-stop solution to keeping up with all the latest goings on. You’ve also got the classic flashing red LED indicator to the right of the earpiece to let you know when you’ve got a new notification.
Next up is the apps folder carousel. Highlight this thin strip and you can scroll left and right to change the six shortcuts listed in the section below, moving from All through Favourites, Media, Downloads and Frequent apps.
Finally there’s the shortcuts section itself which can be adjusted to show two or no rows of shortcuts as well as the default single row. Scroll downwards and the full list of available apps slides up to fill the screen. Once on this screen you can then move apps around and add them to folders.
Unlike previous versions, you can’t press the Menu button to also bring up the full apps list. Press it while any of the aforementioned sections are highlighted and you’re presented with the options of opening the Tray (apps list) or going to the options screen for changing the homescreen layout. Alternatively, if you highlight one of the apps in the shortcuts section at the bottom and press Menu it brings up the options for that app. It feels a bit odd at first but you soon get the hang of it, at least you would if the trackpad on your phone worked properly, unlike ours.
Also improved is the general look and feel with little animations now greeting the opening and closing of apps and as you move through menus. The menus themselves have also been tarted up with small (admittedly somewhat pointless on non-touchscreen devices) icons now accompanying each item, giving you a visual cue as to what to expect. The multimedia apps have also been spruced up a bit. There’s nothing revolutionary here but it all helps to keep the platform looking like it belongs in this decade. To aid storing lots of your favourite media, there’s a microSD slot that will take cards up to 32GB and comes filled with a 1GB card.
Social networking is another key improvement with Facebook and Twitter information now infiltrating your contacts list as well as the various messaging services. Combined with the superb group and individual instant messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger, this phone and others running BlackBerry OS 6.0 are among the best for actually keeping up with everything that’s going on in your life.