BlackBerry: In defence of the keypad master

Written by Abhishek Puri | Updated: Jul 29 2013, 16:45pm hrs
BlackBerryBlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry Z10 redefines the paradigm of a mobile operating system. Based on the famed QNX powering the mission critical hardware, it was adapted, for the first time for mobile platform mated to unique gestural user interface. QNX is used in everything that has a command centre at its core; from automobiles to powering rocket launchers in NASA, it is flawless with no room for error. Pair it with legendary BlackBerry security and reliability you have a bulletproof mobile platform. This aims to reflect on a long-term ownership experience since the sheen peels off beyond the initial hype that builds up just prior to release.

Related: We are not in trouble: BlackBerry India MD Sunil Lalvani

There are various under the hood changes after a massive OS 10.1 update with tonnes of bug fixes. From users perspective, text selection became more intuitive, Type and Go with notification tweaks. The author finally has Microsoft Exchange Active Sync compatible work email address with OTA address book and calendar synchronisation which was not possible in legacy devices without an Enterprise account.

Related: BlackBerry strikes back

Z10, in the time period of ownership, has slipped twice inadvertently on hard ground without suffering even a scratch. This is a testimony to its legendary build quality. Battery life is truly a revelation. This author does keep a battery back up but has rarely required it. The test device is 4G based (soon to be launched in India), which is known to stress out the battery. However, this author sees the entire day without recharging; an average use with voice calls (two hours daily), BBM video and chat (about 40-45 min), continuous stream of emails, it pulls through over 14-16 hours. Individual mileage would vary and is similar to reported earlier here.

While Z10 had spoiled this author with its unique predictive keyboard that got better with the use, Q10s physical keyboard has its own charm and has replaced Z10 as his trustworthy workhorse. It would be unfair to compare BlackBerry with the other commodity handsets especially from Samsung. The slap on touch wiz interface is buggy and Samsung is notorious for slow release of updates. Despite the product fragmentation, they leave out most of the low-end users out in the cold. Unfortunately, none of the reviewers focus on this aspect of OS updates. BlackBerry, in contrast, has delivered its OS updates rapidly since the inception of BB 10; the next iteration 10.2 likely to be released with the rumoured A10.

There is a perception that BlackBerry has not been able to market its flagship devices effectively. However, this author begs to differ. BlackBerry is upfront about what its products are capable of and how they fit in the interconnected world where always on connectivity impacts our lives. Contrast this to what Apple does. Each iteration of its hardware refresh is billed as the most advanced ever. This author sickened at the sight of iPhone 5 when its executives were waxing eloquently about making a thinner design. What iOS 7 really is A glorified copy of conceptual user interface from Windows and BlackBerry phones! Will there be any way to prove it Unfortunately, it will be forgotten in the hype that everyone generates in the press. This author has sworn against the use of either Samsung or iPhones.

App selection is slowly improving on BB10. It does lack the big ticket names but it is not a deal breaker. All the app platforms are plagued by duplicity of applications, making a mess to wade through them. There is not any application that this author cannot do without and instead relies on the pure play of the native interface. BlackBerry Link did see an update in recent times, however, that aspect leaves much to be desired. This author has tried it on Mac and the update fixed up the sync issues with Aperture and iTunes. However, they need to pour in more resources to polish it up. Wi-Fi sync breezes through the files. Connected Dropbox syncs well with its desktop counterpart and is a boon for remote access on the device. NFC as a method of payment now works with selected retailers in India.

BlackBerry represents a niche; it is solely for the people who are better informed than their peers. The proof of the pudding is in eating it. Once you get the hang of the unique gestures and how the entire OS is tightly integrated as a sum of many parts, youd be better able to appreciate its fluidity. With BlackBerry, it is a love affair that never ends which translates into total value for money.

The writer is a practicing doctor with keen interest in technology