During the last week, I switched my mobile carrier from AT&T to the $50 Boost Unlimited everything plan. I mean, it sounds attractive to go from $80 – $150/month down to a flat fee of $50 without taxes or anything else and the bonus is better service than the Ghettro phones. I purchased a cute little flip phone on Amazon which came with a SIM card and ported my number over last Wednesday.

It turns out I can’t use a regular flip phone because it’s hard for me to text on it, the screen was tiny and I had no contacts on there because all of my contacts lived in Outlook. I heard that the Nextel Blackberry 8350i (iDen) can be converted to Boost with a little bit of work. I scoured through Howardforums and the Crackberry forums to see how to do it but a quick search on Google got me an easy set of instructions to follow to “hack” my Blackberry into  Boostberry. I know this sounds a little geeky and most of you are probably thinking, “Why on earth would you do that??? Just get a phone that does what you want on the mobile provider you’re on.” I like the challenge of getting technology to work where I want it to work and I heard other people did it already. I also saw on craigslist and on ebay people charging up to $100 to convert these phones and I simply wasn’t going to pay that because I knew I could do it myself.

First, I needed to move my contacts from Outlook to Gmail contacts since I was no longer going to be using Outlook. I synced Outlook to my Gmail contacts using Google Sync. I was pleasantly surprised that Google Sync didn’t import duplicates, I had some cleaning up to do of my Gmail Contacts because I never really fixed those contacts but other than that I was set.

The basic steps to follow to convert the Blackberry 8350i to Boost:

  1. Activate a Boost SIM in a regular Boost phone (the flip phone I already purchased worked well)Note if you try to activate in the Blackberry, it might not work because that phone isn’t officially supported by Boost and the following steps need to be followed to access the internet and send text messages.
  2. Download and install Blackberry Desktop Manager to PC, if the box didn’t come with the CD
  3. Download the service books
  4. Backup existing Nextel service books
  5. Then after it’s been backed up, delete the service books from the phone
  6. Delete Browser from the Blackberry
  7. Alt + {S}{B}{E}{B}). A message reading Legacy SB Restore Enabled should appear on your screen.
  8. Install the service books you downloaded in step 3
After following these steps, your Blackberry should be able to send picture/text messages and browse the web. Even without doing these steps putting the activated SIM into the 8350i should already let you place phone and Direct Connect (walkie-talkie) calls. The only caveat is that Blackberry Messenger and Email doesn’t work (huge bummer) because there is no support for that from Boost.
Other apps I’ve downloaded to get my Boostberry to work exactly I want it to work.
  • Facebook app (essential!)
  • Pandora (internet radio) – with my microSD of music, I’m all set for the gym
  • Gmail – this also notifies me of incoming messages, it’s push style so I don’t need the Blackberry Email
  • Google Sync – to get my Gmail contacts and Google calendar on my phone
  • Google Maps
  • IM+ from shapeservices ($39.95) – lets me login to all IM’s (Yahoo IM, MSN, Googletalk, Skype, Twitter, Facebook IM)
  • Update: Just loaded BeejiveIM, it creates the iPhone like bubbles for instant message on (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Googletalk, and Jabber) it’s only $19.95 and there is a 30-day free trial.
  • Snaptu for RSS feeds, Facebook updates, Twitter, weather, etc. 
  • I read Mashable, TechCrunch, BusinessWeek, LifeHacker, & the NY Times, Snaptu lets me post articles I find interesting to both Facebook and Twitter…awesome!

OK, so after using this phone, I don’t totally love it. I like the ID or industrial design of the Nokia E71 because it was sleek and felt good in my hands. The 8350i feels like a fat piece of plastic by comparison. Texting on the keys is hard because the keys are harder to push in and it doesn’t feel as good as texting on the E71. This phone is also glitchy, I looked for newer firmware but the version I have is the latest. Other than that, I’m loving how the Boostberry is helping me stay organized. I’ve added my niece and daughter’s dance classes to my calendar, Zumba on Saturday’s with my sister, and story time for my niece at the library.

As a side note, I stopped using my iPod Nano (can’t even find it) since I started using my smartphone as my music device at the gym. All I need is to get FM radio on the phone like I did on the E71 and I would be truly happy. See how easy it is to make me happy 🙂