So you just landed a BlackBerry. Once the age-old sidearm of corporate goons everywhere, the BlackBerry is now equally essential for keeping your friends abreast of your latest late-night urban adventures, updating your zombie fiction blog fresh with new entries, or cutting contracts for the indie record label you run out of your basement. Whatever the case, you’re holding onto the digital equivalent of a crunchy new backpack, still full of paper display wadding from the store: It’s all about what you put in it. Confused about where to start? Here’s a quick list of steps to making your BlackBerry uniquely yours.
Visit App World
It’s number one on the list for a reason. Half the fun of owning a smartphone is the near limitless supply of apps that can turn your humble phone into a GPS tracking device for your workouts, cookbook, news reader, or gaming platform. Just point your phone to BlackBerry.com to download BlackBerry App World, if it doesn’t already have it. Need a shortcut to find the very best? We’ve got you covered. Check out our top BlackBerry apps.
March to the Beat of Your Own Ringtone
That stiff corporate ringtone will keep you out of trouble at the office, but you’ll also find yourself reaching for the phone every time some dullard with the same phone gets a call. Get your own ringtone. Since BlackBerrys accept standard MP3 files, you don’t have to pay a dime. CrackBerry.com has a great guide to setting up your first custom ringtone, plus an expansive library of freebies.
Wrap It Up
Sooner or later, your shiny new phone is going down. And unless you want a nice collection of battle scars from every fumble, you had better put some plastic between phone and pavement. OtterBox makes some of the toughest cases out there if you don’t mind the bulk, Seido offers great variety, and Speck makes some of the most stylish. You can snag a case from any number of online retailers for cheap, but we recommend buying in person to inspect the fit and finish – not to mention size – before laying down any money.
Snag Some Accessories
With protection squared away, perhaps you can afford to invest in any number of other useful BlackBerry add-ons. Want to talk without a hand glued to your ear? Consider a Bluetooth headset. Appalled by the thought of walking around with a headset on like the hired muscle at a nightclub? A Bluetooth speakerphone also does nicely when you’re in the car. Constantly tapped into your favorite Last.fm or Pandora station? A nice pair of headphones like Klipsch’s Image S4 make all the difference. ShopBlackberry offers a great one-stop repository of authentic BlackBerry accessories.
Switch That Wallpaper
New BlackBerrys come with some pretty sleek wallpaper, but after a few weeks, you’re going to get tired of looking at the same blue-to-black gradient. We once again recommend hitting up CrackBerry for a great selection of free prefabs, or getting more artistic by taking your own shot with the phone camera and setting it as your wallpaper. And nothing’s better for remembering your favorite pet, city skyline or significant other than plastering it all over your phone.
Load up on Multimedia
Your BlackBerry may have been designed as a phone, but right out of the box, it’s equal parts jukebox and portable television, too. Checking your BlackBerry manual will show you how to load the phone with digital music from your computer via USB cable: just grab all the Muse, Silversun Pickups or Ra Ra Riot tracks it can handle and send ‘em over. But getting those high-def Sons of Anarchy episodes or all three seasons of Arrested Development over won’t be quite as easy. You may have to transcode video on your PC to a format the BlackBerry will recognize. BlackBerry Video Converter makes it easy.
Get Connected: IM, MMS, Texts, E-mail
Your new BlackBerry will walk you through setting up an e-mail account, and receiving text messages is self-explanatory, but sending MMS and IMs through the phone gets a little trickier. For MMS, make sure that you’ve updated to the latest version of the BlackBerry operating system, since some older versions don’t support it. Afterwards, make sure you enable MMS under your settings, which should give you the option to send video and pictures you capture as MMS messages. As for instant messaging, BlackBerry.com offers links to individual apps for every instant messaging client, but you can also download a single app, like IM+, that works with many networks.