Ten things my BlackBerry smartphone has replaced

Ten things BlackBerry has replaced
By Adam Zeis on 12 Oct 2012 01:15 pm EDT

I got into a conversation with my mother-in-law a few nights ago about how as kids, we used to play outside whenever we had the chance. Over the summer I'd be out right after breakfast, only coming home to eat dinner, then go back out as long as there was daylight. Not anymore. Kids (mine included) since inside all day watching TV or playing video games. Mine dreads the thought of having to play outside.

As we sat and talked, I had my BlackBerry in hand. I looked at it a bit and realized just how many items from my youth it had replaced. I no longer had scattered items around to get through my day, just this one tool that has everything I need. While there are countless ways a BlackBerry (or smartphone in general) has changed daily life for users, in honor of BlackBerry 10, I've compiled a list of the top ten items my BlackBerry has replaced.

Ten things my BlackBerry has replaced

My Landline Phone

No brainer on this one to get it started. After my last move I totally ditched my landline. Why have two numbers for people to remember when I always have my BlackBerry? I'm rarely home as it is, and much prefer the convenience of just having my phone with me and not worrying about who's calling me at home when I'm not there. 

Point and Shoot Camera

Right off the bat I'll set things straight - if you have some crazy expensive digital camera point and shoot or DLSR, this obviously won't apply to you. But for the average user, your BlackBerry has let you ditch that little camera you find yourself carrying around on trips or to family parties. I no longer worry about having my point and shoot when I go out for the day, knowing that my phones camera will get the job done.

The BB10 camera beats the cameras that we've seen in the latest round of BlackBerry 7 devices as well. The EDOF camera in the Bold 9900 was a total flop, so it's a welcome relief to finally have a great camera to use. Add in the Time Shift feature and video recording and you've got a great setup.

MP3 Player

I've been one of those people that has always had a stand-alone MP3 player in addition to my phone. I was never big into using my phone for music, be it for the lack of storage space or just not wanting to kill the battery. I always found it better to have a music player that was only for one job. Over the years I've come to my senses and started using my phone for music as well. Not only can you store massive amounts of tunes on a media card, but you also get the added benefit of streaming music services so you have plenty of options.

My Wallet

While this may not be the case for everyone right from the start, plenty of banks and merchants are already using NFC for mobile payments. I've been a slim wallet kind of guy for years. I only carry what's necessary, and even that is too much at times. I have my credit card, debit card, license, insurance card and business cards - that's it. As we move forward, I'm hopeful that my bank works up NFC payments for my debit card like we've already seen a few times. I'd love to ditch my cards and only have my phone when I go out.


When was the last time I picked up an actual, real calculator? Well, yesterday (I have one in my desk). But honestly - I never use one anymore. My phone has become my go-to calculator. Simple math was never an issue on my BlackBerry, and now thanks to the awesome calculator on BB10, even advanced math and conversions are no issue. 


If it hasn't already, your BlackBerry phone will also replace your GPS unit. Pretty much everyone in my family has a portable GPS in their vehicle but that really isn't necessary. There are some great apps out there for GPS that do just as good, if not better, than a separate GPS unit. 

RIM has great things to come with maps and GPS thanks to their partnership with Tom-Tom as well. No more worries about outdated maps or not having a GPS when you travel. Just bring your phone with you wherever you go and your GPS is there with you. 

Alarm Clock

Are you sill using an actual alarm clock?? I would hope not. My BlackBerry has been my favorite alarm clock for months now. My charging pod + Bedside mode combo is awesome. I never have to worry about not having a good clock when I travel and I know that my alarm will always be set - even when the power goes out. You can set alarms for whatever you want and even pick a clock face that's easy on the eyes. 

Wrist Watch

Yes, this is another you've probably done already, but my BlackBerry made me ditch my watch. Unless you're a timepiece afficianado like Kevin, you probably will be willing to lose your wrist wear in favor of the clock on your phone. It's second nature now to just grab my phone and tap a button when I need the time. My wrist enjoys the freedom and I never worry about forgetting a watch before I head out the door.


Am I stretching for this one? Maybe a bit, but do you actually know how many flashlights you own? I counted and I have no less than 10 in various drawers, cabinets and shelves all over my house. It's no secret that there are plenty of flashlight apps available for BlackBerry, but it really is handy as a light. You don't even need an app - you can just fire up the video camera and turn on the flash. Even better? The flash on BB10 is annoyingly bright, so it's probably better than half of the flashlights you own anyway.

Lots of Other Stuff

I could go on here for a while. What else has my phone replaced? My calendar, compass, to-do list, shopping list, newspaper ... the list goes on and on. Natively, the apps on BlackBerry kill off a handful of other gadgets we've always used, but add in third party apps and you're on your way to slimming down your life.

While this is just my list, I want to know what your BlackBerry has helped you replace. Your camera? Newspaper? Radio? TV? Let us know in the comments your own top 10 list in honor of BlackBerry 10. The list may grow even bigger once BlackBerry 10 launches and we see what other goodies RIM has in store for us! 

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Ten things my BlackBerry smartphone has replaced


Couple of other things...

I don't bother checking the weather on radio or tv anymore.

Get my library books online.

Agreed with list + your suggestions. But you forgot to mention a watch can be an accessory to fashion so while it may have replaced for time reading. It isn't an accessory to fashion.

Wristwatch is the least likely replacement for me, too. Yes, I understand that having a mobile means that you don't NEED a watch anymore, but you can't claim that it's easier to dig a device out than it is to casually glance at your wrist.

I'm looking forward to a "companion" watch that discreetly advises me of incoming calls, texts, and BBM messages.

Landline - Never had one
Camera - I own a DSLR for when i want to take really good pictures. Other than that the 9900 crap camera will suffice
MP3 Player - Yup, although I still have a standalone MP3 player for the gym. dont want to risk dropping a barbell on my BB
Wallet - Hopefully soon
Calculator - Only really ever used them in school
GPS - Never had a standalone unit
Alarm Clock - Yup, the 9900 (in bedside mode) has replaced that.
Wrist Watch - Never. Will. I. Ever. Replace. My. Watch. I'm thinking about buying a rollsgold Briel to add my collection
Flashlight - Yup

Bold 9900 - Playbook 32GB - Lumia 800

The Blackberry Bold 9900 is not a bad camera at all. Of course not comparable to a DSLR camera but its not bad. Too many people diss it.

I agree with 9 out of 10. Definitely need my wrist watch. A watch to me is like shoes for my wife. I like collecting and wearing!

Agree with everything except the GPS :-) Still prefer a dedicated unit for the car (bigger screen, no worries about connectivity, etc.) though would always use the phone when on foot.

Landline for sure - altho I set up google voice as my "home line" and have it forwarded to my berry
Never had a camera as I've always used phones.
Never had an MP3 as I"ve always used phones.
Calendar and phone book on phone
GPS - phone
News - twitter
Flashlight - phone
Calculator - phone

I cannot live without a watch - drove me apehsit without one even tho there is a clock on the phone. Finally got it replaced.

if I could get any place around here to use NFL I'd be golden. I only carry around a wallet with my debit cards and ID. That's it.

Can't replace the watch as there is a trick thieves use: "hey can I check the time?" "Sure, (pulls out smartphone), it's 5:45pm." "THANKS!! (grabs phone from hand) " WHAT TE FU-- HEY! give me back my phone!!!!!" That's why. Then.. EVERYTHING IT REPLACED is lost too. I have four, now five digital camera, one is EDOF and works fine, but has a jammed lens that takes skills to unjam with the zoom. Never had a stand-alone GPS. I still have the landline (many power outages which rendered cellular phones USELESS such as the one in 2003), still have an alarm clock with backup battery and 6 others. I barely watch television, it hasn't replaced the radios at home, three in total that run 24/7, day and night. I don't read the news, so it doesn't replace that. I have calculators, solar ones, which it hasn't replaced either, same for a powerful desktop computer at 12 years old, 5 year old netbook, 10 year old tablet pc that all work fine. I still have an mp3/mp4 player and MiniDV camcorder, including VHS Video Camera from 1988. Two flashlights of my own, four in various places, because I don't usually use the blackberry as one as often as some would. Wallet, cards and cash, no way, it won't be replaced, nor will it replace the FOB access NFC key or keys to the front/rear door either.

Hmm, that's it.

The first thing this made me think of was the Franklin Planner... :-) I can still picture all the execs at my first job with those giant, leather binders under their arms at every meeting... Their BBs single-handedly removed the need for that extra luggage.

I agree with all of your top ten and can add:

11) LockBox -- all of my passwords are now saved in Password Keeper instead of on random slips of paper in a lockbox.

12) Compass -- I now use my 9810's compass for hiking, camping and in big cities to keep my bearings on foot.


13) Mini Cassette Recorder -- carried one of these to every college class, now the BB Voice Recorder fills that role.

Thanks for the article from another person who spent every afternoon playing outside, drank straight from the hose and survived!! :-)

Weather, Traffic, Yellow pages, Sports Scores, Magazines, Newspapers and other periodicals, written memos,reminders, and passwords, and I could go on and on and on and on, however I think you get the genral drft......

Landline: Yes. And Rogers still send me offers for a cheap home phone. Seriously?

Camera (P&S and Video): Mostly, yes. Next phone will be all yes.

MP3 Player: Yes. As well as movies for the young ones on long road trips.

Wallet: Real men don't carry wallets.

Calculator: Who needs a calculator? Multiply the root of X with Y and divide by pi. How hard can it be?

GPS: Sometimes. For long trips, the standalone GPS with lane assist can't be beat.

Alarm Clock: Yes. No more buzzer. Wake up to any radio station in the world.

Wrist Watch: Mostly, yes. A watch is now a fashion accessory. Even with a watch on, I still pull out the phone to get the time.

Flashlight: Yes. The LED is blindingly bright.

A biggie to me is my old daytime planner. I remember the day of named-brand daytime planners and the yearly review to review new options or simply order the new calendar year inserts. Now everything goes into my BB calendar work and personal calendars, reminders, tasks and notes.

On that note, my wife's and my BB have replaced to old family white-board calendar. We setup a gmail calendar for the kids / home and all the sports, meetings, social things all go in there and we both have access on our BB and Playbook.

Grocery lists as well have been replaced by an app that we both log in to and add to as needed so if either of us are at the store we can purchase what is needed. (OurGroceries)

My last is Geocache Navigator, replaces having to go to Geocaching.com and review / write down or export cache sites. It has everything I need: search for caches, loging, maps and a nice digital compass.

I'm still getting over the sit down with Mom-in Law. You brave man you!

In addition to Adams' list,.....

Picture frames.
I have just 1 picture frame now, all other pictures are on my memorycard.

Canada Post
Can't remember the last time I actually snail mailed someone.

Have to disagre on a number of points, but only because you used the word "replace" instead of the phrase "stand in for". In particular, I don't agree that my blackberry (9900), or any smartphone, for that matter, would replace a camera, calculator, alarm clock, wristwatch or flashlight, for the following reasons:

1. camera - yes, the BB takes pictures, and decent pictures at that, but certainly nowhere near the level of a halfway decent point-and-shoot. I just got back from Disney, and it's easy to tell the difference between the BB pics, and those taken on my Olympus. Again, it'll stand in for, but not replace a camera.

2. calculator - I've got two calculators on my desk, a really good Sharp that I've had for 100 years, and a newer Casio. The casio doesn't have comma separators, and is too complicated, but each of these would be my go-to before the BB. The BB works in a pinch, but is a PITA. Even the move to touchscreeen was only a slight improvement.

3. alarm clock - I can see the argument on this one, depending on the person, and the phone. A person that wakes up easy, and has a phone with a decent charging stand can get away with this. Me...I'm a bear to wake up (so when I slam the snooze, I'd kill a BB), and the charging dock for the 9900 is weak at best. I've stopped using it altogether. The stand for the 9700 was infinitely superior.

4. wristwatch - I know some swear by the phone as a timepiece, and laugh at us dinosaurs with watches on, but even putting aside personal preference, a BB as a timepiece is simply too unreliable. Again, spending the day at Disney, I found that my BB battery was dead by about 8:30 at night. I can live without BBM for a few hours, but I need to know what time it is. I'm not willing to put trust into something that I KNOW will fail me.

5. flashlight - again, a stand in. The light on a BB will help you find your keys on the floor of your car, but if you need to actually illuminate something at any distance (is there something hiding behind that tree over there?), a flashlight will work much better than a BB.

I'm not knocking BB, but I think it's a stretch to think it can be all things to everyone. It can be a handy stand-in, however. Notwithstanding my comments above, I do check the time on it on occasion, and take pictures with it regularly. But I'm not about to put all my other stuff on kijiji anytime soon.

Very well said!

1) more "kind of could maybe do in a pinch" than "replace"
2) you and I KNOW it WILL fail / bug / need reboot / have an update that f**** up something somewhere / empty the battery at the worst time, etc.

I would never trust a phone or tablet ie jack of all trade, master of none, to get up on time for a job!!! My 10$ dedicated alarm clock with standard battery that lasts for months and can be replaced anywhere in the world is simply working EVERYTIME, so I can sleep without stress!

I earn my money with a real stable computer, I take legible photo notes with my point & shoot, I print my Google maps when traveling seriously, my real magnetic compass is always accurate and doesn't need to get an 8 shaped dance, my flash light really can get me to the toilet when I camp, etc...

And more important, I create / invent / analyze / prototype etc. With pen & paper... And I work as an IT teacher ;)

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my PlayBook, but it mainly stays home, and I've tried as much as I can to use it for something a bit serious... YMMV ;)

My ipod! ...Yes! Now have two BB Music Gateways playing my tunes at home and in one of my cars. The BB MG is an awesome device and dirt cheap to boot!

I've got the Music Gateway on order, but even failing that I've come to love my 9900 as a media device. I do still use my old iPod Nano on rare occasions when I want to connect with a dock-equipped device, but 85% of my music listening is done from my phone now.

Funny, my wristwatch battery just died and the jewellery shop wants a retarded sum of money to replace the battery citing labour, time and the cost of the battery itself. It became apparent that getting someone else to repair it would be uneconomical unless I was inept and desperate.

So I popped off the rear backing as per YouTube video instructions and went on eBay to buy a nine micro screwdriver set (really, really tiny ones, not your average micro-screwdriver set) and 5 silver-oxide brand name batteries for $15 total shipped. You only have to remove one screw holding in the battery but it's with a screw so small that the slot the driver fits into is close to the width of two human hairs. The shipment is coming from the USA to Canada so for the next few weeks I will be watchless.

Already I have grown accustomed to grabbing the cellphone to see what time it is when I'm away from a computer or my home. I do use my watch to check the time regularly as per habit but I am now being forced to reprogram that behaviour.

Oh and for my Flashlight, I use the amazing and free app Advance OS and LED. Get it, it will replace many of your other apps.

Flashlight is a big no. I need my Klarus RS11 620 lumen as my EDC (Every Day Carry) along with my phone.

Watch is a fashion accessory for me and sometimes you want to check the time but not take out your phone (dinner, theater, etc) as that can be a "jerk" move in those situations.

Camera: Sorry, the BB camera is NOT good enough to replace the nice point & shoot or the DSLR I have. Still carry those when I need to take pictures. My wife does have an iPhone 4s (I know) and that camera is fine to replace a P&S

GPS: I have a good stand alone and it has a bigger screen.

I hope that BB 10 changes my mind on the camera and GPS. I can't see me ever switching away from my flashlight and watch.

My 9900 has pretty much replaced my laptop, I use it so rarely now that when I do open it, it has tons of updates and installations to run through first. Plus if I reach out to the screen to shrink or expand stuff I realize that's not going to work. So Blackberry rules for me.

Try to use those functions of BB (or of any other smartphone) extensively during a day:
- camera
- mp3 player
- flashlight
How long your battery will survive?
And if you need to recharge your mobile device twice a day, can it be called "mobile"?

i get three days on a charge I use mp3 player all day, gps also, flashlight when I need to pump up my tires(slow leak)(hint, use a blue background, uses less electricity), and I text an awful lot. always three days, never failed me yet. bt and wifi are generally always on now for bridge. gots me a curve 3g.

Hey Adam! I think before replacing the GPS, it replaces physical maps first when you think about what you had to use when you were younger =) My buddy left his 9900 at home a week or so ago and was forced to use a physical map, which he said was a nightmare lol

As the son of a jeweller / watchmaker, I will always have a thing about watches, but I so appreciate my Torch as bedside alarm clock,land line, calendar, contacts, twitter, facebook, email, powerhouse. I NEVER miss my Tungsten and phone combo :-)

This is an excerpt of an on line review I did on my Playbook saying all the things it has replaced in our home.

I bought my Playbook earlier this year, and its one of the best things I have ever purchased. I use it to surf the web, play games, watch movies, take photos and HD videos, listen to online streaming radio and Tv and get all my emails. Not to mention I love to video chat with my Playbook. I use it all the time for everything.

That about says it all for me.
Tablets are incredible

WOW, now that I think about it, my BlackBerry device (s) have replaced quite a few different items. The joy of living with less stuff to keep up with......AMAZING

BB10 will definitely replace more items on that list for me when i pick one up. As of now however, i`d say more than anything my 9900 has replaced is that alarm clock...

There's a few things that my Torch / Playbook combination stand in for (using the statement given by another commentator about the difference between replace and stand in for), but will never entirely replace. Then there are things that it has definitely taken the place of.

things they definitely replace:

MP3 players - I actually haven't had one of these in ages, really, but ever since I got my Storm 9530 way back when (still like that phone for some reason), I haven't really had a need for another MP3 player. Even video clips play pretty well on each of those devices, and the Playbook is great for viewing longer videos.

Yellowpages / Whitepages - really rarely use these, however Poynt does a great job of replacing any need for the Yellow Pages otherwise, and there's of course the full web otherwise.

Daytime planner - I can place all my scheduling into the Blackberry devices and it stores there, is always with me.... I don't need to worry about it so much. It even takes things a step farther by reminding me that I have something to do.

Contact book - yeah that's kinda obvious but still...

Newspaper / News updates - checking up on RSS feeds for news information is a lot easier than hunting down a news paper.

Calculator - I actually do alright with what is available in both devices as far as a calculator is concerned.

The things that it merely stands in for are:

Radio - neither of my devices have an FM tuner built in, so I have to rely on apps like tunein radio and the like. But it still works well as long as I have signal.

Alarm Clock - I actually have five different alarms set to wake me up on days when I need to be up by a certain time. And they still don't all necessarily do the trick. My torch only allows for one alarm, really, I find.

Flashlight - not bright enough an LED on the Torch.... enough said. I actually have a lantern flashlight set aside for power-out situations. That thing can actually light up a full room with no issue whatsoever. The Playbook's screen can get pretty bright as well, don't get me wrong, but the battery life is pale in comparison to that lantern, and I don't have to keep touching the lantern to keep the light on longer than 5 minutes ;-)

Cameras - yes, my devices take good photos (including my Android Amaze 4G, which I barely use ever), but they're no substitute for my DSLR. The image quality in any lighting conditions, well... it's like night and day. I do use them as video cameras, though, as I don't really shoot videos often, and my DSLR is a little old for the video function, not that I'd use it on an SLR anyways....

Landline phone - while I rarely use a landline phone, there are cases where cellular coverage just is not good enough and a landline phone is necessary in order to remain in touch.

Laptop - while many of the things I'd usually do from my laptop can be done on my playbook, and even in some cases on my Torch, there are a handful of things that I absolutely have to use a laptop for (i.e image editing from the aforementioned DSLR... unless Adobe puts Lightroom on the Playbook, which would be pretty sweet to be honest.... it could handle it Adobe!) There's also some things I look after on the web that just don't have anything set up as of yet for the mobile space at all, and so I need to get myself to a computer to do them.

That's my list.... I'm sure there's more but I can't think of it off hand.

My list is very much the same.
Land line
MP3 Player
Alarm Clock
Phone book
Flash drive
Note pad
And lastly using my brain to remember things

7 Reasons to keep your Land Line

1. 911 Calls go to the local 911 center instead of a regional one, makes for more prompt response.

2. If the power is out, hard-wired phones still work, conserve your cell battery.

3. Talking for long periods is much more comfortable with a larger phone on your shoulder.

4. Better sounding, more reliable - often Cell signal inside the house isn’t as good.

5. Calls to other countries are frequently cheaper, Wireless providers like to rip us off

6. If someone is in the house and doesn’t have a cell phone, or has a depleted iPhone or Android battery, can still call out. (Goes along with #1)

7. The phone ring is almost always louder and can be heard throughout the house or wake you up for urgent calls if your cell is in another room.

Got rid of my wrist watch about 3 years ago. When about 4 weeks after the clock was moved to daylight savings time I looked at it and realized that its not set to the correct time.
My side button is set to the clock app so it's really easy.

Many thing are supplemented by my phone/tablet because of quicker access or common resource.

While I can understand all of this I am of the opinion that anything that can do "everything" will invariably do most of them poorly. For this reason I still have:

Landline - necessary for the alarm system and also because I do turn my cellphone of on a regular basis. I'll get back to that.

Wallet - personal preference

GPS - built into both vehicles so it is unnecessary to use my phone for this.

Multimedia device - most will disagree with me and that is fine but I have found ALL cellphones to miserable failures on this front.

Alarm clock - Since I turn off ALL of my cellular and computer devices before going to bed (or when I just do not want to be bothered) a standalone alarm clock is essential.

Wristwatch - I am a huge fan of wristwatches and have built up quite a collection. Aside from that it is much simpler to glance at my wrist to tell time since my phone is not always near me.

Calculator - this one is a push. For fast and dirty calculations that I can't do in my head the phoneworks in a pinch. For everything else I have a HP financial calculator (pocket model) and a desk calculator.

Flashlight - also a push.

My blackberry replaces 8 things for me:

Alarm clock
Music player (kind of I still use my mp3 player from time to time)
Landline phone

Landline - Replaced by cell

Camera - DSLR for really good pictures. Other than that the 9780 camera works perfect for kwik pics and as a last resort the 9900 crap camera will work. I use 2 cells and yes the 9900 is worse than the 9780 camera due to lack of autofocus. Cant wait for BB10 cam.

MP3 Player - Replaced by cell. After the walkman i ditched this for music from my cell

Wallet - Waiting for banks here to support NFC

Calculator - Replaced by cell

GPS - Still on standalone for the screen size and speed.

Alarm Clock - Replaced by cell

Wrist Watch - Replaced by cell

Flashlight - Replaced by cell

Agenda- Replaced by cell

TV- Replaced by cell for most things except watching a movie or sitcom

MSN/Gtalk- Replaced by BBM :-) Just need video.

BB9900, BB9780, PB32GB, Galaxy Tab32GB

I can't agree with the camera replacement. The BB camera is ok for just random shots that you view on your phone or post on facebook, but to print the picture out, it leaves a lot to be desired. And even more importantly, it isn't fast enough, especially for photos of kids. Even a cheap point-and-shoot camera can capture a photo faster.