There’s a wider selection of smart phones and mobile OS’s than ever before, but you can’t just go buy every phone available and try them all out. Here’s how you can test out the latest version of the BlackBerry OS for free on your PC.
We’ll also look at see how it stacks up to the latest Android and iOS software.
Downloading and Installing the BlackBerry Simulator
First, you’ll need to download and install the BlackBerry Simulator. Head over to the download page (link below), select the version of BlackBerry OS you want to try, and click Next. We’re going to select v6.0.0, which is the latest version that will ship on the BlackBerry Torch.
You’ll need to register for the download, so enter your name and other info.
When you’re done, confirm that your information is correct, select whether or not you want to receive emails from RIM or BlackBerry, and click Next.
Agree to the license, and click Next.
Finally, click the Download link to download the simulator software.
Once the download is finished, run the installer. Your computer may need to install some extra dependencies, so simply click Next to continue and install them automatically.
Once the prerequisites are installed, you’ll see the standard BlackBerry Simulator installer; click Next and setup as normal.
Once it’s installed, you’ll be ready to run your new virtual BlackBerry device from the start menu.
Using the BlackBerry Simulator
When you first run the Simulator, you may need to add an exception for it to your Firewall. Windows Firewall will ask you to allow it to access your home networks, so just click Allow Access to let it have access to the internet.
You’ll also be prompted by the simulator with info about using the virtual touch screen on the simulator.
Now you’ll see a virtual BlackBerry on your desktop, booting the latest version of BlackBerry OS.
The simulator may be larger than your screen, so you may have to scroll down to see all of the virtual device. You can change the zoom on the device from the View menu if you’d like.
Here’s the simulator at 50% zoom, so now we can see it all at once.
When the virtual phone finishes loading, you’ll need to accept a license agreement. Click and drag up to scroll through the text.
Then at the bottom, click Ok to accept it.
Your virtual BlackBerry will now present you with a setup process. Feel free to change any of the settings you’d like and explore what it has to offer.
Near the bottom of the setup page you’ll notice some tutorials available to help you learn your way around the BlackBerry OS.
However, these are apparently browser based tutorials, and we received the following error when trying to run them.
Everything else seemed to work fine. Once you’re done with the introduction, you’ll see the full BlackBerry OS running right on Windows.
You can use the virtual hardware keys on the BlackBerry, but it’s usually easier to just point and click with your mouse. To scroll, drag up or down with your mouse, just as you would on a touchscreen. If you’d like to see the device at a different angle, hover your mouse over any of the corners in the simulator and it will turn into an angled phone icon.
Click and drag to rotate the virtual phone.
Using BlackBerry OS in The Simulator
The BlackBerry Simulator works almost just like the OS on a real BlackBerry device. You can launch apps from the pane at the bottom of the home screen.
Or, click and drag up to see all the available options and applications.
We were very impressed with the responsiveness of the simulator, and it run much better than most other smart phone emulators on our computer. Transitions and animations were smooth, and we were able to get a good feel for how the BlackBerry OS 6 works with this simulator.
You can even update your status using the built-in social networking applications to impress your friends with your new virtual smart phone.
You can also see how the notifications work once you’ve added some networks.
The simulator even has a virtual red alert light when you’ve got a new message or alert.
Press the BlackBerry key in the bottom left of the simulator to open menus, or press and hold it to switch to another open application.
Most of the applications work great, but some of them did crash. Additionally, as mentioned before, the browser crashed every time we attempted to run it.
Install New BlackBerry Apps From the App World
You can also try out the latest apps available for BlackBerry OS from the App World in the All pane.
You can browse available applications, look at the most popular apps, and search for ones you may have heard of.
Select an app to get more information, and click Download if you’d like to add it to your simulator.
Note that you’ll need a BlackBerry ID to download apps, but if you don’t already have one, click Create a BlackBerry ID to sign up for free in seconds.
After a few moments, your new app will be downloaded and installed. You can run it directly from the prompt, or find it in the All menu on the home screen as before.
Here’s an app from the App World running on our BlackBerry simulator. Pretty neat!
Install Apps Manually
If you have a BlackBerry app you’ve downloaded directly from the internet, you can install it in the emulator as well. Click Load BlackBerry Application in the File menu to open the application.
Select the *.cod file you’ve downloaded in the Explorer window that opens.
Moments later, your new application will appear in the application menu ready to use.
Although many younger users might consider BlackBerry an outdated smart phone, the latest version of the BlackBerry OS offers many nice features. A lot of business users still use Blackberries and it will fit their needs well. We were excited to get to try it out on our PC, and this is a great way to see how you like a mobile OS before you sign a new mobile contract. Whether or not you’re thinking about getting a new smart phone, this can still be a fun way to try out the latest in mobile tech for free.
If you’re interested in trying out the latest mobile devices on your PC, check out some of our other recent articles on running Android, webOS, and Windows Phone 7 on your PC:
- Test Drive webOS Without Buying a Phone
- Test Drive Google Android on Your PC
- Enable the Android Marketplace in the Google Android Emulator
- Test All Features of Windows Phone 7 On Your PC