BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 Stress Test - The Aftermath

By Kevin Michaluk on 15 Oct 2009 09:30 pm EDT
* If you haven't yet, be sure to first read BBM Stress Test Part 1 and BBM Stress Test Part II *

A week after embarking upon the mission of discovering the max number of contacts BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 can handle, I'm calling it quits on the experiment. It started off fun, grew a little difficult as my BlackBerry Bold began to bog down, and eventually the device just couldn't take it anymore and begged for mercy. The video above serves as evidence of this nutty/stupid/insane and I think somewhat historic event. Warning: It's a long video - I have over 90 minutes of recorded footage, but chopped it down to 15 minutes (cut out the cursing that occurred towards the end and made sure there were no clips where people's pins are shown). If you can make it to the end you're truly a BlackBerry addict. :)

So what what's the verdict? I still don't know the exact number! The total number of BlackBerry Messenger requests to come in was well over 10,000. I managed to get all the way up 2050 approved contacts, but started receiving the Max Number of Contacts Reached message long before that. But I found by closing chats, deleting some of the requests and leaving all joined BBM groups that even though I would get the max number message,  BlackBerry Messenger would still squeeze in a few more. At the end of the day, I'm not sure that RIM set an actual max number of approved contacts, but rather set a loose limit based on database size or total number of "things' going on in messenger at one time.

As you can see in the video, the test started out smoothly enough. The constant stream of incoming requests definitely consumed the device (the data arrows/flows never stopped twitching) but the device was still useable - I could navigate around and open and close apps without much lag. However, the battery life was horrendous. An average of ~1,000 requests per hour were coming in while the barcode was stickied at the top of the blogs and at that rate a fully-charged battery wasn't even lasting two hours. In fact, even though I had the device plugged into a wall charger when we started the experiment, the battery drain exceeded the charge rate as the first three thousand requests came in and the radio shut off. I wouldn't think BBM requests would be that data intensive, but apparently the Bold was working hard (the device was darn hot all day).

Once I began to approve contacts, and especially once I had a lot of open chat sessions open, that's when the device became extremely difficult to use. Constant hourglassing, Exception pop-ups, you name it. When I started the experiment my free application memory was over 30MB, but as I neared 1000 approved contacts (and 8000+ requests, 400+ chats), even after a battery pull my free application memory was down to 6MB which quickly turned to 2MB after using the device for a few minutes. Killing the data connection allowed me to stop the hourglassing, which gave me a chance to remove all third party apps and clear out my inbox and free up as much memory as I could. Turning the data back on, the additional free memory boosted the device performance a bit, but as I neared the 2000 approved contacts mark I ran into the same issues before.

I tested out the broadcast message function to 2050 contacts. It appeared to work, though I did receive a few tweets from individuals I had approved who said they didn't receive it. One thing is for sure though, my Bold hasn't been the same since sending that message. Even with data turned off, the device constantly is popping up the evil hour glass and freezing up. I really wanted to try to wireless back-up 2050 contacts, but after literally a dozen battery pulls and attempts later I just gave up - the device simply became unusable (couldn't click, couldn't really scroll, lag, lag, lag, etc.). I think from here I'm basically going to be forced to do a clean install of the OS.

I think part of the issue was the test device of choice - the BlackBerry Bold only has 128MB of flash memory as opposed to the 256MB in newer device models. I'm almost tempted to try the experiment again on a Tour or Storm2. If you think that's a good idea, you can let me know in the comments and maybe we'll make that happen one day sooner than later. What a test!

In closing down this experiment, I just want to say THANK YOU to everybody who added me as a contact to take part in the experiment. It's always awesome to see how enthusiast a community we have here at It truly is special. As for who got approved/didn't get approved, please don't take any offense if you didn't - my hope was for everyone to get approved. Looking back on it, I think most of the contacts who got approved either had a symbol in front of their name, or, their names started near the beginning of the alphabet. Because I didn't approved contacts immediately as they came in, but rather went to BBM and approved them out of the requests drop down, BBM orders them alphabetically (not in order of being sent). I was simply hitting enter, enter, enter as fast as I could, and did some from the top and hit spacebar to get to the bottom and do some from there (with sooo many requests scrolling through the list was impossible). It took me a while to notice that it was namely A names and * names being approved - once I noticed I mixed it up by approving out of the inbox but by that time was nearing max capacity. if we try this again, I'll try to be quicker on the ball and approve requests as they arrive in sequence.

That's it for now... BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 Stress Test Complete!!

Reader comments

BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 Stress Test - The Aftermath


My question is how do you jump from top to bottom of the page in bbm 5. I use T and B for other apps but this doesn't work. Is there a shortcut?

I still have waiting for authorization from Kevin on my Tour.I guess I was up there in numbers. ;-)

Yeah, I would say it's probably safe to say Kevin won't be accepting my invite lol. I didnt add him until about noon EST. It still says Pending though lol. Overall, great stuff!

I like that you were drinking a good Colorado Microbrew!! Fat Tire is proudly brewed in Ft Collins Colorado!!

Watched the whole thing, pretty interesting to see how this progressed in real time. I was wondering how in the world your BB would be handling all that!

The experiment was cool, thanks for the add, I didnt dare try to carry on a conversation with you, knowing how your device was going through hell and all.

Awesome test!! I can't believe it basically rendered the bold useless afterwards... haha the power of bbm!

This was a great way to see what 5.0 could handle. Sorry you basically bricked your Bold. At least we know that it can take anything that the average Crackberry abuser will ever throw at it.

I'm not sure if you do know this but just weren't doing it, but when you click delete like when you were deleting chats, instead of scrolling up and selecting delete if you just press the "D" key it will automatically delete it instead of you having to highlight delete and then clicking the trackball.

Very geeky experiment indeed! Great results!

I think it's funny to see how sad the AT&T network is in San Diego, in parts of the video you had one bar of 3G signal. You were probably downtown, and for a major carrier that should not happen in a busy area like that :)

It's sad to see AT&T's network ANYWHERE! Verizon Wireless is the way to go because... "There's a map for that"

we should send you our PIN and you can slowly add us. That way you wont have 1000s in request and you will be able to see whats the true max for contacts is.

for deleting my message! LOL, J/K. Saw half of my BBM screenname at the bottom of your BB screen while you were deleting messages. ;)

I wonder how many contacts you could get if the list was not overloaded by 8000+ remaining requests.

What if you had like 100 people make requests, add them, then add another 100 requests, and so on. Maybe you could top the 2050 number without bogging down too much!

To end all the conversations if you go in to your messages box scroll to the date and press menu then select delete prior it will end all your bbm converstaions.

arware of that, but wasn't sure if that would also kill my incoming requests, which i didn't want to lose. was tempted to clear out the inbox like that, but just didn't want to kill any requests.

If you select all the chats in the messages folder, rather than within bbm itself, you could have selected them all at once and ended them in one shot.

chats were mixed in with thousands of requests...not an easy task to find them in the message folder, never mind select them all to close.

That was fun Kevin. We all learnt a thing or two about BBM and the 2D Barcodes. I know I learnt that you cannot scan a BBM Barcode off the TV or CRT Monitor, at least when I tried. :P

I cant wait to do this on the Storm2!

Berry Out!

Try move back and forth a bit... You should be able to scan the barcode from the monitor...

Oh... I am using a LCD screen. it surely won't work on CRT monitor (anything using a light tube)?

I scanned while at work, and my monitor is a crappy 15" CRT.
Had to move it around a bit as you mentioned, but it did work.

Microbrewries are for little girls! Budwiser is the REAL man beer! (and Kokanee!) I still cant believe the ranger is dead...

i tried looking online for a database wherei could find contacts from to add and came accross through google.
has anyone registered on this website yet? looks pretty cool! bb heaven to me!!

So not going on the idea that they have set a soft limit on contacts, how may conversations can you have open in BBM 5.0?

Gread experiment. Didn't get my request accepted but was still fun to be a part of the experiment and see how it all turned out. I would also like to see you do this on the S2. And loving the Fat Tire!

Very cool to watch.. Liked around the 11 minute mark.. Came every second and then the errors... poor phone... Then the end when it was totally unresponsive... Good to know the BB can handle this.. A test with the storm2/tour would be great as then we can see if more memory will allow more contacts etc..

Guyz & Girls i need ur help, im tryna invyt sum addicts coz i dnt personaly knw 2 many ppl i my country(South Africa) tht use BlackBerry smartphones, so, since i joined ths community commnity cn u invyt me?.....PIN is 20FC51E3

Either the Tour or S2. The S2 because it's the latest and greatest. Just to see what happens. I have a Tour and 3 groups added and I get lag. That many contacts would probably kill it!

But, if you do it again, maybe go with fresh BB's, straight from the box. No 3rd party apps, nothing. Take 'em out, fire 'em up and start adding. See how far you can go with as much memory as possible.

A test on one with more flash memory is only appropriate you know in keeping
With science and all!!!! ;)

I joined the cause of crashing a Blackberry too! Saw Kevin approved my request, however never received a broadcast message from him. Interesting though that bb messenger takes up that much memory just for requests and chats. Moreover, try it on a newer phone and I'll join the cause again! Ah the things I join when I am bored at work.

Hey Kevin,

Im still waiting for you to add me!!

haha j/k...that vid and what you did was pretty cool!! I like that experiment! Good Job...btw, nice macbook pro!! haha

Hey Kevin...

If you show your BBM conversations in your Messages list - you can end multiple conversations at once by deleting them there!

BBM 5.0 Sucks, i liked version 4.6 so much better. I hated the spell check on 5.0, i got rid of 5.o and went back to 4.6


Cuz I have a symbol in front of my name. I was wondering lol. That test looked crazy from the video! I would def be interested to see how it goes on the Storm being I have one myself.

I got a bold and my bbm rocks I'm chatting on it all the time! If u want my pin # its 249E2338 hit me up I will add u! Let's chat!