When BlackBerry finally launched their oft-delayed Blackberry 10 "comeback" devices, well ... nothing happened. The delays, immature operating system, and high price of the phones all but ensured nobody was going to buy them.
Plus, the company was on the verge of a collapse, then was almost parted out, then somehow wasn't. Despite a love for QWERTY keyboards, we advised you to stay away from buying a device that was tied to a company flirting with death.
Six months later, BlackBerry, with a new CEO, has new devices in the pipeline, and has updated its operating system to solve the app gap (by enabling devices to run Android apps). The future, while not promising, isn't quite as bleak.
That's why I finally picked up a BlackBerry. Wha did I find?
This thing is well built, and not just the magnificent QWERTY keyboard. It's heavier, has an excellent build quality, and just "feels" premium and professional. The odd square-shaped screen is infinitely better than I expected too. The last QWERTY phone I tinkered with, an HP Palm Pixie, wasn't even a tenth as nice in any regard.
Software-wise, this operating system is sick. Setting up the phone wasn't too bad, though it wasn't as seamless as setting up an Android. (To be fair, I was a loyal Googler for years before I first picked up an Android -- so it was as simple as punching in my Google account information.)
A few other things I loved:
- The Hub: Facebook, LinkedIn, and all of my email accounts, all in one inbox.
- The built-in browser: it's magic. Everything loads at insane speeds.
- The swipey gestures: wake up your phone with a swipe upward on the screen. Swipe left-to-right to get to the hub. Swipe the other way to get to your apps. It beats buttons.
Well, the phone booted in Greek. After fifteen minutes of frustrated swiping, I found the language menu.
Also, the greatest new feature of OS 10, the ability to run Android apps, apparently isn't ready for T-Mobile variants. I'm stuck waiting on a carrier update, which was one of the reasons why Google's Nexus line (which always gets the bleeding-edge updates first) was so appealing.
So yeah: great phone, great OS, and no apps. Seriously, as far as native apps go, there are no desperate dating apps, no Spotify, no fitness apps, nada. There are productivity apps, like Evernote and Documents to Go (a mobile office suite), but all work and no play makes this phone blech.
And if, or when, the T-Mobile 10.2.1 update arrives, and Android apps are usable, it's going to be a bit hit-or-miss, as those apps aren't designed for a square-shaped screen with no buttons.
One more thing: I really miss Google Now. On my Android, from any screen, I can swipe up, say "Okay, Google" and launch a search, a text, or most important: navigation. There is no digging for apps needed.
BlackBerry does have its own voice assist, but it's like a mentally impaired Siri with a demonic voice. Functionally, it's mediocre. Plus, it's hidden, and required me to enable it manually through a buried setting.
Don't Call it a Comeback, Yet
It's so close. So, so close. And when the Android app update arrives, maybe then I'll feel differently. But iOS and Android have a few years' worth of a head start on BlackBerry and it shows. BB OS 10.1, which is what my phone is running lacks the polish and the apps (and the spying) of its competitors.
That being said, we can't wait for the update, and the upcoming Q20.
- Are Lawyers Really Flocking to Macs, iPhones, and iPads? (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
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- iPhone Not Secure Enough for Pres. Obama; BlackBerry to the Rescue? (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)