Edge is Better!

One of the features of your 3G BlackBerry Smartphone that is easy to forget but can come in really handy given certain circumstances is the ability to change your Network Mode. When you go to Mobile Network Options, under Network Mode you have the options of 3G, 2G and 3G & 2G, with the 3G & 2G option being the one that is typically selected by default. This default option means that if 3G is available for the cellular network you're connected to you will default to 3G, but if the 3G signal gets too weak or you move out of 3G network range, you'll automatically drop to a 2G network (known as EDGE) which is more than likely to be present. Compared to 2G, 3G connections offer faster data speeds and simultaneous voice and data (on GSM), so most people prefer 3G to 2G when given the option. Thus, the default setting of 3G & 2G works pretty well for most people, most of the time. However, it can make sense to try changing up this option is if you find yourself in a location where all of a sudden your trusty BlackBerry seems to start working like crap even though you're clearly connected to 3G - it could be that your device would be better off dropping down to 2G but for whatever mystical reason it doesn't want to downshift. Allow me to illustrate with a real life example from this past weekend:

I spent the weekend getting some R&R at a buddy's cabin in a cottage/camping area called Spruce Sands, which is a 15 minute drive away from the town of Gimli on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. Gimli recently got its network upgraded to offer 3G (yay...finally!). Back at my buddy's cabin, all of the devices present (a Bold 9780, Torch 9800, Bold 9700 and an iPhone 4) were clearly connected to Rogers and the 3G signal looked strong, displaying full bars. So based on appearances, it seemed like Gimli's new 3G network reached outside of town to the area where I was staying. I wasn't paying super close attention to my phone nor using it that much during the day (getting some R&R, remember?), but my Bold 9780 did seem a bit wonky. My battery was almost dead (despite barely using the phone), I had some undelivered BBMs, and it seemed to take everybody in the cabin a few tries to make voice calls. The service felt suspect, but since I was seeing full bars on 3G (and was having a good time drinking), I didn't think to do anything about it.

By mid-afternoon of day two after hearing others in the cabin complain about the same issues I noticed the day before, I finally decided to do something about it, and changed my Network Mode to 2G. Boom. Issues Fixed. By switching to EDGE only mode and ignoring 3G connectivity, every issue we experienced went away and our devices were back to running normal (with exceptional battery life I might add on EDGE). Apparently we were picking up the town's 3G tower still but were near the limit of its range, which meant we were ignoring the much closer towers that offered EDGE only. And that really horrible battery life was the result of the radios working excessively hard to try an maintain that 3G connection when we were clearly getting out or range.

Long Story Short: If you find your 3G data connectivity appears to be ok but all of a sudden you're experiencing poor battery life, undelivered BBMs, delayed SMS messages and calls dropping, try switching to 2G only. It might save you from a ton of aggrevation!