Finally we have reached the last article in my little “Things I appreciate” series, and that’s talking about BlackBerry phones. Although BlackBerry doesn’t have the same influence that they had over the mobile market as they did several years ago, they’re still managing to hang in there these days. I haven’t had a ton of experience with BlackBerry 10, but I was using the BlackBerry Q10 for a while not too long ago, and found that there were still quite a few things that I could appreciate about BlackBerry devices.
Probably the one thing that continues to make BlackBerry stand out the most is the thing that got them so popular in the first place, which is continuing to make phones that use a physical QWERTY keyboard. When BlackBerry was just starting to become a popular brand of mobile phones, the QWERTY keyboard signified the future. Most cell phones, at least at the time, still featured the basic numeric keypad. Users could text using T9 or pushing the numbers down in sequence to create a word. It was doable, but a full QWERTY keypad made the job much easier.
Nowadays the physical QWERTY keyboard is still around mostly for people who still aren’t comfortable with the more common virtual QWERTY keyboard. It’s a classic feature now, and one that was particularly classic with BlackBerry devices. The new BlackBerry Classic, or even last year’s Q10, are good examples of BlackBerry’s use of the classic physical keyboard while still moving forward with their relatively new BlackBerry 10 software.
Even the BlackBerry Passport, which uses a physical QWERTY keyboard, manages to keep the design somewhat “fresh” while including the physical keyboard.
BlackBerry also has a couple of options for your typical “slab” design on a smartphone as well, but in my opinion it’s the continued use of the physical keyboard that makes BlackBerry stand out from the other platforms the most.
BlackBerry has always been dedicated to its business users. The famous BlackBerry Messenger app wasn’t designed with casual texting in mind - it was designed for networks of business users to communicate more quickly and be able to transfer files seamlessly between individuals and groups. It just so happened that BBM also worked well as a social tool as well.
BlackBerry also has a lot of features and services available specifically for business users, like BlackBerry Enterprise Services. These services not only enhance work life for its users, but it’s also a notoriously secure network of services as well. So for the business user who also appreciates a sense of security, BlackBerry is one of the most experienced and reliable in that department. Even Sony executives “dug up” their old BlackBerry devices to use following a hacking scandal recently, to which BlackBerry CEO John Chen says, “It’s proven that BlackBerry devices and the server are a lot more secure than any other solutions out there commercially available,” although he also goes on to say that he doesn’t know whether using BlackBerry devices in the first place would have stopped such a scandal since he doesn’t know the intricate details of the cyber attack.
But at least Sony hasn’t been attacked again, so... so far BlackBerry has a pretty good track record there.
Although I would be inclined to say that BlackBerry devices are mostly tailored for business users, BlackBerry 10 has helped BlackBerry become a decent personal device as well. BlackBerry 10 has had the ability to run side-loaded Android apps for a while. However, with the recent release of BlackBerry 10.3, users have a larger selection of applications from the get-go with the addition of the Amazon App Store, which has a much bigger selection for generic non-business users than BlackBerry’s own app store does. Amazon’s App Store isn’t the best, but it does help the cause tremendously.
I would probably recommend checking out BlackBerry if you are a business-centric user, mostly because those are the users that would get the most use out of a BlackBerry device. I would also recommend BlackBerry phones to people who prefer physical keyboards, because they are really nice physical keyboards. Security and nostalgic feelings are two of the main reasons that I still appreciate BlackBerry phones being around today.
As I stated at the beginning, it’s clear that BlackBerry isn’t in the same position of power that it once was, but they’re not completely obsolete. They’re still trying, and in many ways are still managing to succeed.