A couple of weeks ago I found myself in need of a new phone so I started weighing the different options. We live in pretty incredible time when there is no shortage of smartphone options. You can go with the iPhone, which at this point is a seasoned veteran. You can go with Android, which is arguably the cool younger brother which is constantly on the cutting edge of tech, as its supported by such innovative companies as HTC and Samsung. You can go with a nice, yet misunderstood relative, such as the Windows Phone or in my case you can go with the old Blackberry, which at this point is arguably on life support.
I have written a lot about Blackberry (formerly known as RIM) in the past and my comments while positive, have been put against the back wall of failure. There is no shortage of news about Blackberry facing the threat of financial failure, massive layoffs, and the simple fact of being irrelevant. In a few weeks, a financial deal is likely to go through in which a financial subsidiary of Blackberry is likely to purchase the company at a massive discount. This all being said why would anyone elect to purchase a Blackberry at this point, whether it be the Q10, Q5, Z10, or Z30? The answer isn’t that complicated.
After having done my research in weighing the options and having the Blackberry Z10 for a little over a week now, I have to tell people that the Blackberry Z10 is a solid phone with a very innovative and professionally driven Blackberry OS 10. The operating system on the Blackberry Z10 is fundamentally different from iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. I make the argument that it is vastly superior and the future of the mobile OS. It is just simply fluid and intuitive. It is an interface that simply stays out of your way and let’s you do what you want to do, both quickly and effectively. It also goes without saying that Blackberry is still the gold standard of business. It is designed with professionalism in my mind and for me it still feels like the phone you take into work.
This isn’t meant to be a phone review, but I’ll talk a little about the phone design. I bought the Blackberry Z10 (Black) and there’s very little you can criticize about the phone’s appearance. It is simple, but elegant. Every feature meshes together to present you with a solid package. While some might argue that the phone is lacking in design, the aesthetic is still enough to draw the attention of anyone. It feels great in the hand and it is a phone you will always be happy to pick up.
Blackberry OS 10 (QNX OS)
The principal reason I bought and like the Blackberry Z10 is because of BB OS 10. In my opinion, the QNX based OS is vastly superior the the other smartphone platforms out there. As always, I’ll name my five favorite features in BB OS 10.
1. Blackberry Hub
Blackberry Hub is a feature that lives to the left of your OS. You simply have to swipe from the left at any screen to bring it up and see your calendar, as well as all of your messages, notifications and e-mails. All of your communications live in one location on your device. This is so incredibly useful and intuitive. You can view everything in one big pile or you can view them by type or account. Blackberry Hub makes it simple to use your phone as a phone and it’s arguably my most favorite feature of BB OS 10.
2. A Truly Gesture Based OS
Essentially everything on the Blackberry z10 can be completed with a simple motion. It allows you to control your applications, currently running applications, and your phone in general, with simple gestures that truly make you feel like you are in control of your phone. Once you have gotten used to the gestures on BB OS 10, iOS and even Android will feel slightly archaic or even in some aspects overly complicated.
3. Android OS Included
It is true Android comes preinstalled with every BB OS 10. The architecture of BB OS 10 allows you to essentially run both operating systems in a non-obtrusive way. You’ll rarely ever notice that you are running an Android application. It just works and with new releases of the OS in the form of updates you will always be up-to-date with the latest Android OS. You can find Android apps on Blackberry World, but you can also sideload them onto the Blackberry Z10 with a little ingenuity. Google search the topic for instructions.
4. Evernote and Dropbox Integration Included by Default
It is features like this that reminds you that this is a phone targeted at the professional community. Blackberry OS 10 comes preinstalled with support for Evernote and Dropbox. Evernote syncs in with the Remember application and your Dropbox folder syncs in with the file manager. In this way, neither Evernote or Dropbox feel like separate apps living in their own space. They feel like integral parts of the operating system that once again contributes to the fluidity of the OS.
5. Minimalist OS
One of the key reasons why I gravitated to the Blackberry Z10 is because of its (in my opinion) minimalist design. Unlike iOS and Android, it is not trying to be a phone for everyone. It is clearly a device targeted at the professional community and acts as such. This is not to say that the phone does not have mainstream appeal, but rather that it fulfills its principal purpose first, before giving attention to other uses. I can use the Blackberry Z10 without getting caught up or distracted by a million different applications or a very flashy operating system.
The Negatives and Personal Phone Choice
The truth is that while I am making a positive argument for the Blackberry, I am not denying that the Blackberry has its negatives. I’ll even name a few. The battery life leaves much to be desired. I rarely make it through a whole day without having to charge the phone. The Blackberry app store is lacking in a major way. If one of your primary necessities in a phone is a rich app store, then you are not going to find that in the Blackberry right now. While the phone does have all of the basics, you’ll find yourself browsing through an app graveyard when you click on the Blackberry World icon. To name just one more the Blackberry Z10 screen often appears dim and while you might want to maximize the brightness, this is often undesirable given the battery life hit you will inevitably take. For me the positives outweigh the negatives.
I value a simplistic, minimalist and professional phone. The Blackberry z10 and BB10 provide this for me. For anyone interested in getting a Blackberry, I would say do your research and know what you are getting into. If you decide to go through with the purchase, then you will not be disappointed. With so many smartphone options out in the market right now, the right phone for you really comes down to what your needs are and what you would like in your phone. iOS and Android might be the two goliaths out there right now, but oftentimes you will find a great deal of value in one of Davids. BB10 for me is a vastly superior mobile operating system and I hope that Blackberry lives on to continue to innovate on it.
P.S: It is my hope that Blackberry reconsiders releasing BB10 for the Blackberry Playbook because it is still one of the devices I use the most and I believe that with a refocusing and better management at Blackberry, the Playbook along with the new BB10 Blackberry Phones do have the potential to resurrect the company.