Review: CSL Blueberry a9500

Update 1: More photos here

Update 2: Sometime in mid June, Tesco was selling this very model for RM399 (damn!)

Update 3: Sometime in mid June also, the trackball started to give problem. Sometimes it works, other times it is just it does not work

Update 4: A month later, it stopped working at all and I was “trackball-less” for months. One good thing about this model was that I was still able to navigate using the side buttons (but without trackball, it meant I could not play my usual games) . Then in early 2011, something very, very strange happened. I hooked the phone to my laptop, to copy some files and suddenly the trackball worked again. Strange indeed.

Update 5: I have moved to the darker side here and here

Back to the original post

(Malaysian made Blackberry…errr…Blueberry)

Just before my trip to Chennai, India, my wife’s phone conveniently died out.

Having no time to “trouble shoot” the problem, we decided to take a look at it after we have come back from Chennai. The phone was not recharging so we thought that there must be a problem with the battery. The solution was to buy a new battery, so we thought.

During shopping trip to a shopping complex, we decided to walk over to the phone shop to see what is on promotion. My eyes was focussed on some of the smartphones on display – many not was selling for less than RM1,500. My wife noticed it too and politely reminded me that we are there to buy replacement battery, not replacement phone. That is when we noticed a CSL Blueberry a9500 model on sale for RM599. That looked like a good bargain considering the various functions bundled into the “Blackberry look-a-like but is certainly not” phone.

My wife looked at it and conceded that it looked like a good bargain (if I buy this, then she get to keep my Nokia phone, so she was very accommodating). So, we decided to buy a new phone instead of a new battery (the old phone was too old anyway).

So, what to expect with CSL’s Blueberry? The best thing that I got for RM599 was these:-

  • 2 Sim Card slots (easier if I am travelling overseas)
  • Wi-fi (save up on GPRS cost when free wi-fi is available)
  • GPRS
  • TV Receiver (local analog TV, not Astro)
  • Radio Receiver
  • Free 2GB microSD card
  • MSN, Yahoo IM ability
  • PDF reader
  • Facebook, Twitter ability
  • Google Map (works wonder when wi-fi is available)
  • QWERTY keypad
  • Trackball

That is the best thing about this phone. There are some shortcomings but I am not complaining considering the price of the phone (cheap means less functionality, less graphical experience, less web experience). CSL claims that it is a Malaysian company and Blueberry is a Malaysian made phone but there is plenty of room for improvement, namely:-

  • The icons are just too ugly – can there be an update for more glossy looking icons? It looks too simple (their K500i model had better icons).
  • The OS running the Blueberry is an unknown Taiwanese made MTK OS. Many sites (providing apps and games) do not recognise MTK OS (unlike Android or Symbian). Thankfully ability to upload and install Java jar files comes handy.
  • The default icons is fixed – we cannot change it to a more frequently used icons
  • Some of programs installed are outdated (despite the model released in January 2010) – for example, Opera Mini is still showing version 3 (I managed to install version 5 which is more functional and better looking)
  • Camera provided is terrible – it is 2MP camera but despite having a flash function, it performs worse than Nokia’s no flash 2MP camera (however video ability was better).
  • The antenna (for TV & radio) is pointing downwards – that makes it difficult to “stand” the phone whilst watching the TV. Besides should antennas be pointing upwards for better signals? I was wrong…there is an option to point the antenna upwards but still, it will be better if they had the antenna at the top.

(Hope CSL is taking down notes, for their next model released in March 2010, i9000T had the same problems. They need to improve their website too – models shown without too much details or software updates)

CSL Blueberry is NOT iPhone or Blackberry or other high end smartphones in the market. But given the price (for a brand new phone), it gets most of the job done – with Wi-Fi and Java programs. Just hope MTK picks up and CSL provides better updates (like how Nokia does, excellently).

P.s. This is how I setup the Wifi on Blueberry 9500:-

  • Click on the icon listed as “WLAN
  • Click on “Enable WLAN” to enable wifi connections
  • Click on “Search for networks” to check on available networks (if it is secured, then you need to setup the security details in “Access point settings“)
  • Pick the network that you want to connect, click on “Options” and press on “Connect
  • You are now connected to the Internet (to avoid connection through GPRS, I disable GPRS using “Settings” > “Network setup” > “SIM1 network setup” > “Preferred mode” and pick “WLAN only” or “WLAN preferred“)

23 thoughts on “Review: CSL Blueberry a9500

  1. How do you rate your new CSL phone?
    1 to 5. 1 = worst & 5 = excellent

    1) The keypad quality = ?
    2) Battery lasting time = ?
    3) Menu/navigating speed = ?
    4) Receiving voice quality = ?
    5) WIFI = ?
    6) Overall ease of use = ?

    Finally would you recommend to others to buy the phone?

    Thanks,
    Pman

    1. Pman,

      1) The keypad quality = 3 (feels solid enough)
      2) Battery lasting time = 4 (if not on wifi)
      3) Menu/navigating speed = 2 (have to get used to the very sensitive trackball)
      4) Receiving voice quality = 4
      5) WIFI = 3 (need some settings to be done and it is not easy)
      6) Overall ease of use = 3.5

      Not really the smart phone that everyone is looking out for. I would recommend if you want something cheap but functional BUT if if you want something high-tech, CSL is not highly recommended (their OS sucks – not supported by many apps sites).

  2. hey help me!
    i bought this model phone as yours!
    its good but the wifi are bad!
    i have to be beside of my router to have wifi
    signal ..
    that really sucks!
    it said wifi means wireless but i have to go beside the router to get the internet or else it will say could not connect blah blah.. whenever the connection successfully connected, i have to put the phone on the router for the wifi to work! LOL
    csl is a bad brand. the problem occur since i bought the phone on june/may..
    help me balajoe..
    before this, i got another problem where the trackpad was malfunction!
    it moves automatically like insane!
    I sent the phone to service and it repaired..
    but the wifi lar very bad…
    haiz..
    cant even connect to public wifi like mcdonald where the signal was showed to be very poor/no bar..
    lol really sux la thought want to help malaysia products but ..
    really frustrated la..
    like cheated..

  3. i bought mh csl a9800 1year ago..just few day after that, the bluetooth start not functioning. i go to the csl shop to claim warranty but i told to come again next week… So i go there again. But i was told not to send my hp to be repair bcos many of their cstomer not getting their phoone back after they send for repair. Shock
    So i use this hp w/o bluetooth.

    Now… The battery is dead _has to charge everytime. The trackpad is gone crazy and died at last..when i ask for repair..they want to charge rm100++

    Oh before that, a month after i bought. I tried to trade in that hp. He shop offer rm30 to buy that hp. I BOUGHT IT AT RM580a MONTH BEFORE!!!

    The moral of the story. NEVER BUY ANY CSL PHONE BECAUSE IT SUCK.

    1. The 9500 model was a good effort (to mimic Blackberry for much cheaper price) but given the price of the phone, it is quite tough to call CSL to make major improvements. It will be great if they can match major improvements, quality with the cheap price that they are providing now otherwise they are going to lose a lot of potential customers who may want to upgrade to higher end models. Something that Proton was famous for many years back

  4. just bought it a month b4 n i already sent it back to manufacturer for repairing bcoz the cam is not working..haiiyahhh!!i havent even dropped the hp yet!!the batt is like crazy..charge it for the whole nite n tomoro morning when i started to click here n there (lov to explore a new hp everytime i bought a new set) the batt status showed me only 2 bars!!urgghhh.CSL!!!lov the features but not the quality 🙁 not to mention the wifi service is killing me.. yes u were rite coolio..me too had this same prob..need to stand beside the router thennnnn i can surf the net..huh!!guess thats the price i need to pay for not being rich to buy Blackberry huuhuuu

    1. Syariena – I used to play around with the phone too and often it goes back to 2 bar battery level quite easily but I noticed the 2 bar stays on for a quiet sometime. These days I don’t play with the phone – just use it for calls and sms (no wifi – it takes alot of battery power), the full bar can last me for couple of days before it drops to 3 bar. Battery wise, it is not so bad compared to the Nokia that I had.

  5. i bought 3 units of CSL i9500 model for my kids last Wed-18Jan,2012 but ended all got problems such as charger not working la..mouse not moving smoothly..cannot read SD card..claim to have wifi but status showed connected but when browse internet it says ” connection failed”…furthermore, while entering password for the wifi…suddenly screen came out “sending text message”….what rubbish is this? mau tipu olang aaaa…?

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