Some time before the latest Facebook debacle my beloved Note 4 phone started to break down. It had charging issues, it had a weird dead patch on the touchscreen, and it would freeze intermittently, often rebooting itself without warning.

I got the charger “fixed” (it wouldn’t fast charge anymore after the fix), but the glitchy-ness and rebooting continued. It got to the point where I couldn’t rely on it as a basic communications device, and I knew it need to be replaced.

I made an odd decision. What I wanted was a reliable communicator. I didn’t care about apps (I told myself). I would be satisfied with good messaging, decent camera, good battery life, a good phone call quality. I needed basic productivity apps, navigation, e-mail, text, phone. I weighed my options and decided to bo with a Blackberry Passport. I found one for $200 “as new”. It came in original packaging with all its doohickeys. It certainly looked and felt new. Setup was easy. It imported all my google based contacts as soon as I setup my gmail account. I went on to add some of my on-line accounts.

Now some people found the Blackberry OS’s lack of apps to be a severe problem. I found it - shall we say - different. I did want a couple of Android apps that weren’t to be found in the Blackberry or Amazon stores. Waze was a good example of what wasn’t simply available. Suffice it to say I found a way to have my cake and eat it.

The other thing I found was that the Hub changed my behaviour. Blackberry Hub (for the uninitiated) puts all of ones communications into a single, prioritized list. Text messages, phone calls, e-mails etc. It also lacks the g-mail “Inbox” feature. This meant that suddenly, all the glurge that gmail had been filing into neat sections for me was exposed in my face. I grumbled and avoided it, or deleted it for a couple of days, until I came to the sudden conclusion that I didn’t need most of it. In fact, google had basically tricked me into keeping subscribed to most of it by nicely offering to file it out of my face. This probably plays well to their business, but it means that I still have to manage it at some point (usually between other tasks or when I am waiting on something). I slowly, unsteadily came to the conclusion that these e-mails were not worth the time I was spending on them. I was being lulled into keeping them coming by google’s smart filing.

Over the last week I have unsubscribed to literally dozens of e-mail sources. Now I am down to find only one or two a day to unsubscribe from. My inbox is cleaner. I find myself looking at my mail and finding nothing new at all for hours at a time! This also means that on my phone, almost everything inbound is actually important. I am freed up to attend to what is important, and I am not wasting time on dross or guilt messages (I am looking at you, environmental concern messages).

The other very nice thing about the Blackberry OS experience is its much smarter UI. Small examples abound - for example, I have long complained that Android won’t do one simple thing that Palm used to do - when I go to my contacts, I should be able to start typing a person’s name right away. Instead, I need to click in the text field before I can do that. Blackberry lets me start typing right away. When I copy a text message that contains an address and phone number, if I go into my calendar and click in the Location field, a paste inserts only the address part of the text, and similarly in the contacts database, where I can paste the phone number (and the address separately). This is just smart UI, but a wonderful simplification of an otherwise cumbersome process.

So far I am enjoying using the Passport. I don’t regret switching “back”. I only regret that Blackberry OS is basically a sunset OS, so I can’t expect much in the way of ongoing support or upgrades.

So - bottom line - if you want a good communications device that lets you detach from other on-line time wasting and get more productive right away the Blackberry OS is surprisingly good.