BlackBerry discusses the future of BB10

blackberry

If there is a virtual tombstone to be erected as confirmation of BlackBerry 10’s end, then the company will have to pull the plug first because it has plans to keep it alive for the long term.

It would seem curious that a proprietary operating system could somehow continue to live on when its maker no longer manufactures product that can run it. Indeed, 2016 was the first calendar year without new BB10 hardware since the OS was first introduced in January 2013. This is the paradox that has created the perception BB10 is circling the drain to its ultimate demise, and yet, BlackBerry executives are quick to say otherwise.

As of Q3 2016, BlackBerry’s global market share was at 0.1 per cent, according to Statista. That figure isn’t exclusive to the consumer market — it includes business and enterprise users — but doesn’t include the company’s Android devices, which fall under the 87.5 percent that OS accounted for in the same quarter.

Amidst all that and recent stories about the new ‘Mercury’ device and BB10’s lack of future hardware, Alex Thurber, senior vice president for global device sales at BlackBerry, spoke with MobileSyrup about the future of BB10.

Chugging along

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Thurber affirmed BlackBerry is “continuing to invest in BB10.” Most recently, the company released version 10.3.3 in December after a long wait, and it appears version 10.3.4 may be in the works, though nothing has been confirmed.

“BB10 has a strong following around the world in enterprise and government, as well as consumers in particular markets,” says Thurber. “I want to make sure that our customers and users don’t get concerned that we’re not continuing to support and invest in BB10 because we absolutely are.”

Since BlackBerry doesn’t release any numbers for anything nowadays, it’s not clear how many “millions of users” the company’s OS truly has. What is known is the lack of app support that dogged it from the start has been one of the reasons for BB10’s tailspin.

“It’s out of our hands, but we are continuing to support the OS and Hub”

A recent case in point was WhatsApp’s initial decision to cease supporting the OS by the end of 2016, only to have a change of heart in November and announce that it would extend that to June 30th, 2017. Telus’ MyAccount app stopped its support in November, while Facebook bowed out earlier in the year.

Thurber reiterated BlackBerry’s disappointment in WhatsApp’s initial decision, noting executives were pleased with the extension. Still, the app support exodus is a key element to the BB10 story the company can’t control.

“It’s out of our hands, but we are continuing to support the OS and Hub, as we have so many users who really rely on it as a true messaging device,” he says. “Part of this, of course, reaches back four or five years to strategic decisions that were made, and that’s partly why we added Android to our portfolio, and why we were excited to bring out Priv, and the DTEK devices as true BlackBerry security with full access to the Google Play Store.”

It’s all business

In going with Android-based devices, the obvious implication was that BB10 would either be repositioned as a business and enterprise platform, or be killed off in due time. Since the latter is being publicly rebuked, including in this report, does the former bear fruit?

The recent partnership with TCL is a licensing agreement where it will manufacture BlackBerry-branded devices, with a key tenet of the deal being that it only covers Android-based products. In short, BB10 has nothing do with it.

If not TCL, then who would make phones running BB10? Thurber wouldn’t comment on road maps or hypotheticals, so it’s not clear what recourse BlackBerry would have. The company is no longer manufacturing Classics, Leaps or Passports, as only remaining inventory is currently being sold through its own store, the carriers and other retail channels in different countries.

BlackBerry’s first licensing deal in Indonesia with PT Tiphone in a joint venture called “BB Merah Putih” may provide a clue. The agreement confirmed BB Merah Putih would source, market and distribute BlackBerry devices in that country, though it wasn’t immediately obvious if that meant it would also handle manufacturing or outsource it to a third-party. “Deep negotiations” for a similar agreement are reportedly proceeding in India.

Either way, if a local vendor in a certain country was willing to take the reins and produce handsets for its own market, those would appear to be the kind of licensing deals BlackBerry CEO John Chen referred to when he pulled the company out of building its own hardware.

Thurber cited countries like Indonesia, India and South Africa as markets where “BB10 continues to be a real consumer product where the brand is very strong.”

“In many other countries, the consumer has moved toward the demand for apps and app stores, and that’s part of the reason why a lot of the demand for BB10 has shifted towards traditional users of enterprises, businesses and governments,” he says. “They continue to be a strong customer subset for us today, and do lobby us about about new hardware.”

“We are the only manufacturer besides Google that has committed to providing monthly updates”

Those are developing countries where users are likely to eventually move toward Android and iOS, as has already happened in developed nations. What if BB10 were to be merged with Android somehow? Or could a dual-boot scenario work, similar to how Apple had supported Windows with its Boot Camp software for Intel-based Macs?

“It is an order of magnitude more complex than Boot Camp on a Mac. I wouldn’t say we haven’t looked at that as a potentiality, but it’s a very complex project, so I’m not in any way saying we are pursuing it,” he says. “We get lots of feedback on continuing BB10 on other devices. If we come up with one that makes sense, that meets the demands of our customers, and makes sense from a technology perspective, I’m sure we will pursue it.”

An Android era

BB10’s fading fortunes in North America opened the door to adopting Android and pushing that as the primary software platform, layered on top with BlackBerry’s own unique security icing.

The two most recent devices, the DTEK50 and DTEK60, were TCL-made and have respectively “met their sales targets,” though neither has been publicly revealed. The DTEK50 was essentially a physical clone of the Alcatel Idol 4, and aimed primarily at business and enterprise users in Canada and Western Europe. In the U.S., no carrier offered it.

The DTEK60 was more consumer-oriented, like the Priv was. The central selling point in both cases was more robust and consistent security to better protect users from Android’s vulnerabilities.

“We are the only manufacturer besides Google that has committed to providing monthly updates across our product line in line with Google SMR updates that come out every month, released first on Pixel and then on BlackBerry,” he says.

The company has been able to maintain that cadence so far, regularly rolling out security updates, as it promised it would. Thurber pointed to “significant changes” made to both the Linux kernel and Android itself before the company releases it to the public on its Android-based devices. The work is done by engineers based in Ottawa, Mississauga and Waterloo, Ontario, and is applied within the manufacturing process “where we touch each phone and inject a crypto-security key before it’s released from the factory.”

Thurber affirmed there are no immediate plans to release the DTEK app to non-BlackBerry branded devices, which appears to include TCL’s Alcatel line.

A marketing strategy?

If there has been one strain of incessant criticism towards BlackBerry, it is its marketing strategy, or lack thereof. Thurber only joined the company in April 2016, so was not on board in preceding years. He wouldn’t comment on what the company had or hadn’t done in the past, though did address what should happen moving forward.

For one, licensing agreements should “enhance” marketing programs, particularly based on location. “What’s more important is that because they are local, they will build a plan and investment strategy that is focused on that market, ensuring they have local marketing that will work and be exactly what they need,” he explains.

He terms it, “global consistency with local flavour,” which is marketing-speak for programs or campaigns that will be specifically focused or tailored to local markets. Global campaigns of the past aren’t likely to appear again anytime soon.

But here in Canada, the U.S. and more advanced markets, the sales angle is centred on security. “The great difficulty in selling security is that when security works, nothing happens,” he says.

That’s not the only difficulty. The BYOD (bring your own device) trend with businesses isn’t a flash in the pan. In 2013, market research firm Gartner projected that half of employers would require their employees to supply their own devices for work purposes by 2017. More recently, however, it also issued a study that found corporate-issued mobile device adoption in the workplace wasn’t mature yet.

On the one hand, BYOD creates an inherent need for security. On the other, room for growth in the enterprise space means there are still plenty of devices to go around.

If Android is to make bigger inroads into that space, BlackBerry would need to grab a slice of that pie based on its stated narrative. But where would that leave BB10?

“We are always looking at what the right technologies are to bring out our OS,” he says. “We have millions of BB10 users who are concerned about high-speed, very secure communication, and we remain committed to supporting them.”

Take that for what you will, but at least for the time being, no one at BlackBerry is about to chuck dirt on the OS.

This article was written by Ted Kritsonis and appears on Mobile Syrup. MobileSyrup is an independent resource on mobile technology in Canada – connecting to those who are mobile enthusiasts, professionals and shoppers. We provide daily market and industry news & reviews on smartphones, tablets, wearables, IoT and automotive.

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#CES2016 Highlights

CES 2016 is on this week in Las Vegas and has brought a oculusnumber of new developments in tech and gadgets. Whether the annual show has become a bit overblown in recent years given the hype that surrounds it, here are some key highlights worthy of attention. They include:

Oculus

This is an interesting bit of news to come from CES 2016 as virtual reality and wearables continue to excite people worldwide. Oculus has been at CES before and is again this year, but now it will be selling for $599 with units shipping March, 2016.

Netflix

The popular streaming service announced it will expand its service to 130 new countries. Netflix is available in the Americas, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand while China, North Korea, Syria and Crimea can’t access it due to U.S. government policy.

Canadians still have to get access to titles available in the US by using a VPN or IP masking technology which means that without doing so it seriously diminishes the power of the service. One wonders if this will apply to other countries outside of the U.S. too based on licensing agreements or other restrictions. We certainly hope not.

BlackBerry

News about Blackberry may interest Canadians more than most and now it looks as though BlackBerry 10 might be out the door. CEO John Chen said that one, and possibly two, phones that the company pl ans to introduce will run Android. Chen also said the Priv will land on the US carriers Sprint, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile this year.

Stay tuned for more CES 2016 highlights and a recap of some of the key things that have happened.

#CES2015 Blackberry highlights

Last week BlackBerry made a series of announcements during CES that highlighted its broad portfolio and demonstrated how the company is moving forward into areas such as IoT and wearables. Fresh off the release of its Passport and Classic devices, the company formerly known as RIM seems to be making a comeback or at least is trying to make itself relevant once again in the world of technology.

Blackberry highlights from CES included:

BlackBerry IoT Platform

This cloud-based, secure and reliable platform leverages BlackBerry’s extensive technology portfolio. The solution extends the company’s best-in-class security and reliability to emerging IoT applications. Read the complete press release here.

NantHealth HBox blackberry

This software provider powers NantHealth’s Internet of Medical Things device. BlackBerry’s QNX technology powers the HBox, a device that captures and transmits secure medical data between the patient, doctor and hospital. Read the press release here.

BBM for wearables

The popular BBM was previewed on Android Wear smartwatches, which will be available early this year. The new feature allows users to receive alerts, read messages and act on them, and accept BBM invites from their smartwatches. Read the press release here.

About BlackBerry

A global leader in mobile communications, BlackBerry® revolutionized the mobile industry when it was introduced in 1999. Today, BlackBerry aims to inspire the success of our millions of customers around the world by continuously pushing the boundaries of mobile experiences. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry operates offices in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The Company trades under the ticker symbols “BB” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and “BBRY” on the NASDAQ. For more information, visit www.BlackBerry.com.

Blackberry launches the Classic

blackberryBlackBerry Limited launched the BlackBerry® Classic™, a no-nonsense smartphone built to meet the needs of productive people who appreciate the speed and accuracy that can be found with a physical QWERTY keyboard.

“We listened closely to our customers’ feedback to make sure we are delivering the technologies to power them through their day – and that feedback led directly to the development of BlackBerry Classic,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO at BlackBerry. “BlackBerry Classic is the powerful communications tool that many BlackBerry Bold and Curve users have waited for. It’s the secure device that feels familiar in their hands, with the added performance and agility they need to be competitive in today’s busy world.”

Although familiar in appearance, BlackBerry Classic upgrades the BlackBerry® Bold 9900 experience with:

  • Three times faster browser
  • 60 percent more screen space
  • 50 percent longer battery life
  • Greater variety of applications through BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore

Top features of the BlackBerry Classic that drive productivity, communications and collaboration include:

  • BlackBerry® Keyboard & Trackpad – The QWERTY keyboard has stood the test of time as the iconic BlackBerry feature that users know and trust. Crafted for optimal speed and accuracy, the BlackBerry Classic’s QWERTY keyboard gives users the control and confidence to communicate quickly and clearly using one hand with a trackpad and classic navigation keys.
  • BlackBerry® Browser – The BlackBerry 10 web browser is amazingly fast and astoundingly beautiful. That’s why HTML5TEST.com rates it among the top mobile browsers for web fidelity.* Access your favorite online content as it was meant to be seen, faster than ever before and with unlimited browser tabs.
  • Screen & Battery – The BlackBerry Classic offers a form factor optimized for power communicators with a 3.5-inch touch screen display, 294 dpi HD resolution and Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 for greater durability. The BlackBerry Classic also offers a large battery capacity and latest battery optimization software. With up to 22 hours of battery power, you can be confident that BlackBerry Classic will be ready to deliver results when you need it.**
  • Premium Components – The device is built with durable materials mixed with top-of-the-line technology. This includes a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB of device storage (expandable by up to 128GB via uSD), and a 2MP front- and 8MP rear-facing camera with enhanced optics and upgraded imaging sensors.
  • BlackBerry® 10 OS 10.3.1 – The BlackBerry Classic comes preloaded with the BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, offering a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that each user’s most commonly accessed functions are in the center of their screen. With this new operating system, users gain access to powerful features, including:

o   BlackBerry® Blend – BlackBerry Blend brings messaging and content that is on your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet. Get instant message notifications, read and respond to your work and personal email, BBM™ and text messages, and access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry.

o   BlackBerry® Assistant – The BlackBerry Assistant is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant and can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. It’s the only smartphone assistant on the market today that can access both personal and work content in your work perimeter. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it – if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with added context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen.

o   Dual app storefronts for a wealth of professional and popular apps:

  • BlackBerry World – BlackBerry World showcases essential productivity apps for business professionals looking to drive efficient communications and collaboration.
  • Amazon Appstore – Preloaded on BlackBerry Classic, users can use popular Android apps and games through the Amazon Appstore including Candy Crush Saga, Pinterest, Kindle for Android and Cut the Rope 2. Users can also scan Android apps for malware and privacy issues before installation using BlackBerry Guardian.
  • BlackBerry® Hub – The one place to manage all your conversations – email, texts, BBM, phone calls, social media and more. You can even glance at what’s next in your calendar. It’s always available with a single swipe to help you stay organized, in control and on top of all your conversations.

BlackBerry Classic is built on BlackBerry’s renowned secure operating system, with built-in protection against viruses, tampering and data leaks. The BlackBerry Classic is private by default, protecting users with encrypted email, web browsing and BBM.

“This device underscores our commitment to helping BlackBerry users be at their most productive and respond to the demands of business from anywhere, at any time,” said Chen. “By bringing back the trusted functionalities, incorporating our latest operating system and building a speedier browser, our users can feel confident they are using the best communications tool out there.”

The BlackBerry Classic is now available through local carriers around the world and online through ShopBlackBerry.com and Amazon.com. For more information, please visit http://www.BlackBerry.com/Classic. A variety of accessories including cases and chargers are also available.

* Data taken from HTML5TEST.com from January, 2013 to July 22, 2014 and compares the latest builds for this duration for Android, Chrome, Firefox, iOS and Windows.

**Based on GSMA PRD TW.09 Battery Life Measurement Technique and a mixed usage scenario. Many factors affect battery life, including network connectivity, application usage, feature configuration and battery age. Actual results may vary.

About BlackBerry

A global leader in mobile communications, BlackBerry® revolutionized the mobile industry when it was introduced in 1999. Today, BlackBerry aims to inspire the success of our millions of customers around the world by continuously pushing the boundaries of mobile experiences. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry operates offices in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The Company trades under the ticker symbols “BB” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and “BBRY” on the NASDAQ. For more information, visit www.BlackBerry.com.

Don’t believe the hype. Can celebrities save tech companys?

On Saturday my partner Jay Kenobi posted news about Aston Kutcher and his work with Lenovo. Is this by another tech company to cash in on the hype and profile such a celebrity brings. It seems that way.

We’ve seen this happen before one example being Blackberry who brought on Alicia Keys as Global Creative Director when they launched the new Blackberry 10 smartphones. Viewed by many as a simple PR move, Keys left the company in January 2014 after only a year.

Blackberry said that Keys involvement was much more than that and she was to help shape all aspects of the brand including  a scholarship program designed to help young women embrace the science and technology fields. When Blackberry 10 smartphones failed to sell much and the company has started to move away from pushing devices, Keys was let go.

Now Lenovo itself is in a substantially different place than Blackberry is and the company certainly isn’t struggling. This seems to be a trend with big tech company’s these hiring a celebrity to help pump up the brand and generate sales. It can help or hinder them but I’m wondering if someone like Kutcher will make any significant impact on product design, development or vision the way someone like Jobs did.

Perhaps by aligning with Kutcher and his well-known profile in addition to his portrayal of Steve Jobs in Jobs, a 2013 movie, Lenovo is hoping that they too have found the next visionary of the tech world. Kutcher went so far as to  adopt some of Jobs’ unique habits on diet to get in character as well.

Jobs the man, myth and legend are unique to him and him alone and no one can duplicate what he did. I’m not saying this as a rabid Apple fan boy but rather as someone who read Walter Isaacon’s Jobs in-depth and came away with the sense that what made Jobs was his upbringing, the things that happened to him in his life and his experiences made him who he was. That if anything shaped an already profound gift for thinking differently and pushing the boundaries not celebrity.

Jobs, well-known for creating the reality distortion field at Apple, used it as both a marketing tool and motivator for employees. Lenovo is hoping to create its own reality distortion field around Kutcher and its products. It remains to be seen what long term impact that will have.

Blackberry launches the Passport

passportthumb

Featuring a large square touch screen and new QWERTY touch-enabled keyboard, the BlackBerry Passport is a device purpose-built for productivity-driven business professionals who want a smartphone that empowers them with the mobile tools they need to get things done, without sacrificing style or portability.

BlackBerry Passport Features: passport

Large High-Resolution Square Screen – The BlackBerry Passport includes a 4.5” square screen with a 1:1 aspect ratio, 1440×1440 pixel (453 dpi) HD display and Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 for added strength.

Innovative BlackBerry® Keyboard – The BlackBerry Passport’s revolutionary new keyboard brings innovation to input with a responsive touch surface like a trackpad that lets you perform many touch functions directly on the keyboard. You can scroll web pages, flick to type or slide along the keys to move the cursor, leaving the full screen space for viewing.

BlackBerry® 10 OS 10.3 – The BlackBerry Passport comes preloaded with the new BlackBerry 10.3 operating system, including new features such as BlackBerry Assistant, BlackBerry Blend and Amazon Appstore. It has a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that each user’s most commonly accessed functions are in the center of their screen.

Best-in-Class Battery Life – The 3450 mAh battery is the largest among the top selling smartphones and phablets and, when tested against a very active user, provides up to 30 hours of mixed use. It’s our best battery power to date.*

Dual app storefronts for a Wealth of Professional and Popular Apps

–          BlackBerry World – BlackBerry World showcases essential productivity apps for business professionals looking to drive efficient communications and collaboration.

–          Amazon Appstore – Preloaded on BlackBerry Passport, users can access popular consumer apps through the Amazon Appstore, including the latest Android games and apps, such as Minecraft – Pocket Edition, Candy Crush Saga, Pinterest, Temple Run 2 and Cut the Rope 2.

BlackBerry Assistant – The BlackBerry Assistant is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant and can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it – if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with additional context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen.

Premium Components – The device is built for the most demanding user using durable materials mixed with top-of-the-line technology, including a Quad Core 2.2 GHZ Processor, 3 GB RAM, 13 MP OIS rear camera and 32 GB memory.

BlackBerry® Natural Sound – BlackBerry Passport comes with powerful speakers and a quad microphone system that delivers a high-quality listening experience. BlackBerry Natural Sound Technology is built in to adapt Wi-Fi and cellular call sound depending upon phone position and background noise, automatically adjusting volume so you don’t have to.

“As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea – to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO at BlackBerry. “The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices.”

Thoughtful Design for the Mobile Professional

Inspired by actual passports, the universal symbol of mobility, the size and form factor of BlackBerry Passport is portable enough to easily tuck into pockets and use wherever you go. Utilizing premium, robust materials such as Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 for the display and forged stainless steel for added strength, BlackBerry Passport will provide the durability business professionals require in a smartphone.

The large square screen is optimized for viewing and creating content, and will make everyday tasks like reading and writing emails, reviewing and editing documents, web browsing, and map navigation, more comfortable and effortless. The BlackBerry Passport includes the industry’s first touch-enabled keyboard with gestures that make typing, editing and navigating more efficient and accurate. BlackBerry’s physical QWERTY keyboards have always made it easier for users to create polished, professional communications with exceptional accuracy. BlackBerry Passport’s new QWERTY keyboard is almost four times more accurate than BlackBerry® 10 virtual keyboards – the error rate is on average 74% lower – so there are fewer typos to get in the way of what you’re trying to say.

The BlackBerry Passport along with Porsche Design P’9983 smartphone from BlackBerry®, are the first devices to launch on BlackBerry’s latest OS platform, BlackBerry® 10.3. They come preloaded with new productivity-enhancing features including BlackBerry® Blend and BlackBerry® Assistant, as well as the BlackBerry® World™ storefront and Amazon Appstore, offering access to the very best apps for work and play.

BlackBerry Blend

BlackBerry Blend brings messaging and content that is on your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet. Get instant message notifications, read and respond to your work and personal email, BBM™ or text messages, and access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry. BlackBerry Blend is being introduced on the BlackBerry Passport and will work across desktop operating systems, including Mac OS X 10.7 +, Windows® 7+ and Android™ tablets running Android 4.4+ via cellular, USB or Wi-Fi connections. BlackBerry is also working to bring the Blend experience on other tablets soon. The downloadable version of BlackBerry Blend for Macs and PCs is available today at http://www.BlackBerry.com/Blend, on the Apple® App StoreSM for iPad tablets, or via the Google Play™ Store for Android tablets.

About BlackBerry

A global leader in mobile communications, BlackBerry® revolutionized the mobile industry when it was introduced in 1999. Today, BlackBerry aims to inspire the success of our millions of customers around the world by continuously pushing the boundaries of mobile experiences. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry operates offices in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The Company trades under the ticker symbols “BB” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and “BBRY” on the NASDAQ. For more information, visit www.BlackBerry.com.

Z30 from Blackberry shows off the Jekyll and Hyde of the company

Z30

Blackberry is an interesting case study. As a blogger reviewing its devices, particularly the new Z10 and Q10 earlier this year I was impressed about how the new devices stacked up against Apple and Android devices. The BB10 operating system launched in January of this year was a serious step forward from iOS and Android at the time and Blackberry seemed to be re-establishing its place as a premier smartphone maker.

Launching in Canada one month ago The new Z30 is attempting to carry that torch now and is equally impressive with its large screen and blazing fast speeds on Telus 4G LTE network.  My previous frustrations using the 9360 have all but been erased with these new phones particularly the Z30.

But as a follower of the company formerly known as RIM, I’m still scratching my head as the company continues its downward spiral as one wonders how much longer it will be around. Blackberry faces an uphill battle against waning consumer sentiment and some drastic changes within the manufacturer. I’m guessing Z30 has a lot riding on it given the state of the company now. It’s a great phone that doesn’t disappoint but I wonder how many more of these phones we will see before it’s so long Blackberry.

Screen Size and Battery Power

That aside, I’m going to focus on evaluating this product objectively because the newer z10 and Q10 models were great to Z30use. I’m starting with display because that is a focus of everyone these days, screen size and quality. Samsung users always mock me with my iPhone saying their screens are bigger and better. The BlackBerry Z30 display trumps both the iPhone and the Galaxy S4 in my book. I love this display. So easy to look and the colors are rich and warm. Blackberry lists it as a 5inch screen and that is the largest on any device ever released by the company. Samsung products like the Galaxy Note 3 come in at 5.7 inches but I find those a bit bulky at times. The Z30 gives you the nice screen without the extra bulk.

BlackBerry advertises 25 hours of mixed use battery life. This is further broken down into 18 hours talk time, 16 days standby, 90 hours of audio playback, and 12 hours of video playback. I did use this phone for an hour at a time on my morning commute, moving between apps, the web and phone. I was using the LTE network with a Telus SIM card provided to me and I did not push the battery that hard on this phone.The draw on the battery would be greater if on the outskirts of cell coverage so you should push the battery life to see how the Z30 stands up.

BlackBerry Z30 software

Having used the Z10 and Q10 I’m used to the BB10 software platform which is substantially different from iOS. Having recently upgraded to iOS 7 on my iPhone, I noticed how the “hook” gestures have been nicely lifted for newer versions from BB10.While I wasn’t used to them on the Q10, I must admit i love them now. This hook gesture means that you start from the bottom of the screen and swipe up and to the right. It takes a bit of practice but I could not live without it now. The OS also looks and feels better than Android. I find Android based devices to be the weakest between Blackberry, Apple and Android from a UI standpoint. Blackberry does do this very well, with Apple’s iOS in second. They also have tutorials on gestures that are found on their website.

Typing on the BlackBerry Z30

The QWERTY keyboard was such a huge part of the Blackberry brand for a long time that they released the Q10 to satisfy demand for the traditional physical keyboard. I’ve never needed a physical keyboard to type on any smartphone and I’d rather having a bigger screen to look at while not typing. The Z30 is a lot better I think than the Z10 and Q10 phones for typing and it uses the virtual keyboard. You can also use gesture-heavy typing for deleting earlier words, picking predictions for new ones, or hiding and summoning the keyboard.

BlackBerry 10 apps

While using the Z30 I’ve attempted to load as many of the apps on my iPhone onto any other phone I review. I like to see if I can make a seamless transition to another OS with minimal interruption. The fact that Blackberry lags so far behind iOS and Android is well-known now so there is no need to belabor the point here. There is the option to port apps via Android and I should have explored this option more. I should have pushed a little harder to do this so any comments from people who have done this is welcome.

We know that the popular Instagram isn’t available and I went through an Instagram phase but have begun to use it less and less. Blackberry does offer Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Twitter already installed on the Z30 and this is a nice bonus. They tie nicely into the Hub as well and it is great to go straight to the Hub to look at associated messaging.

Blackberry Q5 another great back to school device

BlackBerry Q5

We’re into the last weekend of summer and since school is almost upon us we thought the Blackberry Q5 would make for another great back to school post.Blackberry Q5

Running the BB10 OS which we have reviewed in earlier posts for the Q10 and Z10, it’s not hard to use this device nor sell the OS again. BB10 has shown Blackberry is committed to making some serious strides with its new OS and devices. They are a significant step forward and having used the 9360 before, a phone I despised, these new products are a welcome change.

Highlights

The Blackberry Q5 has the popular keyboard present on the Q10. Some swear that they need it and it does not disappoint. I don’t usually needed the physical keys and prefer to have more screen space. Blackberry Hub is here as well and like name says it’s the center for all communication you receive on your Q5. I like the concept of the Hub being an iPhone user and with the new OS and phones Blackberry has realized how critical social media and messaging is to its users. Good on them because for students and high schools kids keeping in touch with their friends that’s often the reason to own a smartphone in the first place. The Blackberry Q5 comes in red and black and I received the black model for demo.

Features

With the Q10 and Z10 phones we reviewed, we installed as many apps as we could. Because I am an iOS user I wanted to see how well apps translate over from iOS to Blackberry. Now sure I couldn’t get many of the apps I use on a regular basis but my go to’s were all available, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a few others such as the BC Lions App. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn come pre-installed on the BB10 OS and I liked being able to set those up without having to install them from the App Store.

On the hardware side it has the following specs:

  • 3.1″ Touch display
  • 8GB Internal storage
  • 5MP Camera (Rear Facing)
  • 4GLTE Ready
  • 720 x 720 resolution, 329ppi
  • QWERTY keyboard & touch screen
  • Up to 14 days standby time (3G)
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Up to 12.5 hrs talk time (3G)
  • BlackBerry 10.1 OS operating system
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ S4 processor

Complete specs are listed here.

 

Blackberry Q10 great QWERTY phone and so much more

bb10q10
bb10q10
Blackberry Q10

The Blackberry Q10 might make some cringe because of its focus on the QWERTY Keyboard. I thought it would remind me of old Blackberry phone’s like the 9360 that looked almost laughable when compared against the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. I used to use the 9360 extensively and its clunky keyboard and lack of apps were a never-ending source of frustration.

While I think I would rather own a Z10 so I could have more screen real estate, the new Blackberry Q10 put all my criticisms to rest and quickly. While the QWERTY keys are an obvious focus of the phone, the rest of the bells and whistles and the BB10 operating system itself are more than enough.

Hardware

Hardware wise the Blackberry Q10 might not be at the top of the list but they are solid and come with the following specifications.

  • BlackBerry® 10 operating system
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ S4 processor
  • 16GB of Internal storage
  • 3.1″ Touch display. 720 x 720 resolution, 330ppi
  • 8MP Rear camera. 1080p HD video recording
  • 4GLTE Ready

Thanks to our friends at Telus, we were able to use the phone on their LTE network and it was super fast. I was able to download a number of apps via LTE and browse to what I needed on the internet quickly and efficiently.

Apps

Apps have been a thorn in Blackberry’s side in the past and it still lags for behind iOS and Android but with the new BB10, Blackberry is making strides however and with the Q10 I was able to load a number of apps I use on my iPhone 4S. I couldn’t get the Starbucks app to run but the Tim Horton’s app works great. Gmail was a paid app at .99 cents whereas that’s free for iOS and Android phones. I did not try to side load it. Mail Mail was a free client that I downloaded. I was able to get The Globe and Mail which is a favorite of mine on and the BC Lions app. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSqaure all came installed on this phone. I also really liked the Battery Optimizer app that I found for BB10 and used that quite regularly to check on battery status on this phone.

BB10 OS

It took time for me to get used to the Hub for Messaging and BBM, Blackberry’s popular messaging service. That being said they work as well if not better than anything on Android and iOS. BB10 also relies on the popular hook gesture to get you out of an app back to the main screen or on to another app. I struggled with that to be honest and since there is no home button like the iPhone it was quite humorous to watch me go screen to screen. I did however find myself missing the hook gesture while using my iPhone.

BB10 Z10 is a winner for Blackberry

BlackBerry Z10

bb_z10Vancouver Gadgets received the Blackberry Z10 from our friends at Telus Caya back on Feb 22nd and I had the chance to spend that weekend with it. Though Vancouver Gadgets had attended the two forums and had a brief demo of the Z10, it was only after spending some serious hands on time with the device that I can now confidently say I am quite impressed with Blackberry’s latest offering.

Light as a feather

After unwrapping and charging the phone, it was time to turn it on and get started. While I didn’t use or activate the SIM Card provided, I did attempt to use the device in as many situations as possible with WIFI. I was immediately struck by how light this phone was. As an iPhone user, my 4S feels sleek and fits easily in the palm of my hand. However against this phone it felt heavy and somewhat clunky. Did I just say that, yes I did! You won’t want to do much with or even buy a phone that feels heavy and you don’t have to worry about weight with the Z10.

As Easy as 1-2-3

I’ve used a number of Blackberry’s extensively over the last couple of years including the 9360 while I was working for a software company. I often despised that phone by the end of the day. Small screen, clunky and absolutely horrendous for apps, it certainly felt like a tech relic from the past. Now to be sure I was comparing the 9360 with my iPhone 4S and why wouldn’t I. The iPhone 4S has been my go to phone for the last year. The Z10 however is a much better phone and certainly provided me with some great reasons why I may want to switch down the road.

This screen on this phone is great for viewing apps, surfing the web and reading email. Once you get the hang of the hook gesture and swiping with your thumb, you don’t actually need the back button or the trackball present on previous Blackberry’s or its popular QWERTY keyboard. You can move seamlessly through apps, over to the camera, shoot video and type out an email with ease. The camera and video shot with this phone are first rate and look as good as anything shot on an Apple or Samsung device. I have used the iPhone 4S obviously and Galaxy Note II to do so.

An Appy or Two?

I’ll admit I am an app nut. I love them and use them all the time. Why have a smartphone if you don’t use apps. It’s really one of the best things about such a device. The Z10 delivers on the app front for my top choices including Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook. Though the BB10 platform is still for behind Google and Apple for sheer numbers of apps, the company is making strides and that is key.

Should I buy it?

After spending a few days with the Z10, I would have no doubt in recommending the Z10. Whether you are a current Blackberry user of an older model like the 9360 who is waiting for your contract to end or are already an iPhone user, you are sure to be impressed from this offering from Blackberry. I give this a solid 8.5 out of 10.