I don’t blame anyone for making fun of older BlackBerrys. Seriously, stop carrying that Curve. But I just don’t get the latest trend of pooh-poohing any sort of a comeback for the company formerly known as RIM. In fact, BlackBerry haters are so venomous they’re looking for any tidbit to tear the brand down. Did you know Alicia Keys tweeted from her iPhone before she was named global creative director for BlackBerry. Shocking!
Does the new BlackBerry 10 platform have issues? Of course, as I noted in my review of the Z10 phone, the performance lags at times, the camera struggles in low light, and BlackBerry World is missing some key apps. Keep in mind, though, that the Z10 isn’t even launching in the U.S. until March, which gives BlackBerry some time to work out the kinks. Overall, the detractors don’t get that BlackBerry 10 offers a number of unique advantages for smartphone shoppers — not just longtime CrackBerry addicts. Here are five reasons why the BlackBerry bashers have it wrong.
All of Your Stuff in One Place
By day three of using the Z10, I started swiping up on my iPhone 5 to check for the latest messages. I think that’s a good sign of how useful the Peek feature is of BlackBerry 10. By swiping to the left from the home screen — or up and then right if you’re in any other app — you can access the BlackBerry Hub to check your email, BBM and also all of your social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). I just wish I could attach photos to outgoing social updates from within the Hub. I would have one less reason to use the dedicated apps.
BlackBerry Offers the Best Touch Keyboard. Period.
I’ve used nearly every smartphone keyboard on the market, and the touch keyboard on the Z10 is the best yet. I make a lot less frustrating typos than on the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III, and I really like the word suggestion feature. You can swipe up from the keyboard to accept suggestions, which really saves time when typing with one hand. Yes, there are plenty of third-party Android keyboards that are awesome, but one it comes to the typing experience you get out of the box, BlackBerry 10 can’t be beat. Anyone (not just business types) can appreciate that.
BlackBerry wasn’t the first to let smartphone owners choose the best faces in a group shot (that honor goes to Samsung). But I like the way the TimeShift camera handles this capability better. By moving a little dial backward and forward in time, you get more control. No more blinking. BlackBerry also deserves credit for its Photo Editor, which lets you preview Instagram-like special effects in real time via a nifty slider.
Every smartphone platform has a different way of doing it, but I actually prefer the way BlackBerry 10 handles minimizing and viewing recent apps. Just swipe up from the bottom of the display to see the last four apps you had open, and you can scroll down to view more. Plus, with Active Frames, you can see things like the latest weather and your next appointment. With iOS and Android you get static icons. I love Windows Phones’ Live Tiles, but you have to press and hold the back button to see your recent apps lined up vertically. Too much work.
Maybe it’s just the geek in me, but I get a kick of innovations that redefine the way we communicate. With the new BBM in BlackBerry 10, you don’t have to look at your own face when you video chat. You can actually share what’s on your screen or see what’s on someone else’s display. During my testing, I conducted three BBM video calls, and during each one, the picture streaming through looked clear. There’s only a moment of blur as the person on the other end switches screens. This feature could be a great way to give a quick presentation, share sensitive info or just get troubleshooting help from the IT department.
Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP’s online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark’s SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter and Google+.
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.