Posts Tagged ‘BlackBerry’

Should I get the BlackBerry KeyOne?

I’ve been thinking that my next Android device to replace the Nexus 6 would likely be the BlackBerry KeyOne. It is apparently already selling in Selfridges, and the reviews are starting to pour in.

Verdict? Good keyboard and battery life. The good battery life should be good for the fact that I like to tether and share the Internet from my Android device when travelling. It also has fast USB C charging.

I want to increase my productivity on the go. Email on the go is something I feel like I’ve not managed to wrap myself around since I ditched my BlackBerry 9700 in 2013. I want to use Twitter (though the 3 tweets on a screen seems like a limitation; until you notice that on your iPhone 7, you also only see 3 tweets…). I want to use Bloomberg. And likely I want to blog. But maybe I also want to manage tasks on the go, like run OmniFocus. Oh, and Slack – that’s pretty crucial now.

So now I’ve spent many years in the iOS ecosystem. I don’t find my Android being too useful beyond running the occasional GMail, Gogole Maps, Swarm, Chrome. I want to use Android more clearly, hence the BlackBerry. But I also see software I like like OmniFocus that will likely never come to Android, and they don’t encourage 3rd party clients. A tad annoying.

Who says the ecosystem doesn’t matter?

Should I buy the BlackBerry Q10?

The BlackBerry Q10 goes on sale in Malaysia on May 15 2013. The suggested retail price is RM2,388 (USD$805). In Singapore it is suggested to sell at SGD$898 (RM2,167 – or USD$731). First question, why are Malaysians paying more?

Point to note: I would be upgrading from a Bold 9700, something I’ve used for many years. It has been in my pocket for a long time, there are dead pixels on the screen, it does scream for an update. It should also be noted that my main phone is an iPhone, while my secondary device for roaming purposes, is a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

I asked on Twitter and got some responses. Conclusion? Overpriced and not really value for money. I tend to agree with this – after all, you can get a HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S IV, or an iPhone for less than RM2,388. Don’t forget that with a BlackBerry the premium doesn’t end there – you pay for tremendous amounts of data usage, as they’ve decided to drop BIS.

So what were the initial draws to the BlackBerry for me?

  1. BIS and its low data consumption. The idea of data being free was common years ago, but nowadays its all metered. When you’re roaming, some countries have unlimited roaming data, but what about countries that don’t? Do I really want to be paying more to receive my email? I have that with Android/iOS already…
  2. BBM. My contact list now has a handful of people still using BBM. They all use WhatsApp or some other messenger service. Even BBM diehards have quit because the rest of the world moved on. Whatsapp does the same thing. And with partnerships on some telcos, you start seeing “free data usage” for services like KakaoTalk or WeChat.
  3. QWERTY keyboard. This is useful. This is the only reason why I didn’t even bother to look at the Z10. I like Swype. I like the Android keyboard on my Nexus 7. I like the iOS keyboard too. But at the end of the day, I love a hardware keyboard. Is this worth paying a premium for? I’m not so sure

Key-point: the BlackBerry has never been my primary phone. It was always the secondary device relegated to: email, Twitter, Bloomberg (for stocks), and the occasional WordPress blog entry.

I doubt it is the primary device for many. Social apps that friends use may not be present in record time. Maybe Instagram comes soon. Who cares? App developers are 100% focused on iOS and Android. Convincing them for the third platform is hard for BlackBerry, Nokia, etc.

Free devices to supposed “influencers” aren’t going to help at this price point, when all anyone wants under their Christmas tree is an iOS or the myriad of Android devices up for grabs. Remember that at the end of the day, no one cares about processor power, memory available, megapixel count, etc. – that’s the stuff that excites a tech reviewer but not the end user (I think Nokia learned this the hard way).

My prediction? This device isn’t going to do as well as planned and Brightstar has one million of these devices pre-ordered, so I expect heavy discounting going forward. 

Can anyone convince me why I should ditch the Bold 9700 (for the Q10) going forward? 

BBM now does voice calls – will people care?

I’m the only one amongst my close friends & colleagues that still use a BlackBerry. I use it primarily for email. During its heyday, it was dead popular for BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), but group messaging apps like Whatsapp came along to disrupt it.

I see that BlackBerry is now finally offering free calls over WiFi for BBM users. Its unlikely to work on my aging Bold 9700, but I’m holding out for a BB10 device.

Is this a first? No, not really.

In the USA, T-Mobile offered this feature since probably 2007 – see more about UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access). I used to be dead jealous of friends with these kinds of BlackBerries as they could be in Iceland and still call the USA for free over wifi basically.

Now it comes to everyone on the BlackBerry.

However, is this still important? We’ve had several generations of FaceTime that transmits both voice & video over WiFi. The latest iOS 6 even allows this to happen over the 3G/LTE networks, so Apple has just said it is OK to make use of all that bandwidth even when you’re on a mobile connection.

Is BlackBerry being disruptive with this feature? Far from it. I think many have ditched the platform. I am willing to give BB10 a go, but I have no idea if I’ll stick with it for much longer.

And the connection between FaceTime and BBM? Most BlackBerry users carry an iPhone. Don’t forget to read Mark Suster’s good post on this.

Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions II

This is part of an ongoing series on the Nokia N97 phone. Get started with Nokia N97 Quick Impressions and Quick Impressions II.

The Nokia N97

There were just some items that I neglected to cover in the first article on the Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions.

Last Friday, I was invited to the Nokia N97 launch party at Mandarin Oriental, thanks to Text100/Nokia. Amidst all the fanfare and meeting friends, I decided to take a closer look at the N97 again, this time armed with my Kodak Zi6. As a consequence, I have two somewhat blurry videos (sorry, the phones were bolted on to devices that prevented theft, making my job a lot harder), one demoing gravity and the touch screen features, and another taking a look around the phone showing off things like the keyguard, and so on. There are a bevy of questions and comments there on YouTube, which I wish were just integrated into my blog, but I’m surprised at the amount of people searching for N97 videos :-)

If you’re interested in the party, which was excellent, BTW, don’t hesitate to read Yoon Kit’s entry, or even Bernard’s entry.

First up, the phone costs RM2,480. That is the suggested retail price, and its not much different from Singapore, a marked improvement from what the N96 or the E90 costs.

The phone comes with a stylus. There were none around that day, so using your fingers makes the most sense. Who wants to use a stylus you ask? Nokia is making it easy for input of Chinese characters. I however do think that its silly to have to place the stylus in the case (you’re bound to lose it). But I’ve never seen the case, so I don’t know if its something I would use (I normally never use any cases for any of my phones).

Comments in the videos above, as well as from using it, will show that the touchscreen isn’t as responsive as what you’d find on the iPhone. I wrote this when I reviewed the Nokia 5800:

Its a touch screen, and you’re expected to be able to use it with one hand, and you can use your fingers. However, its not so fancy — once you’ve used the iPod Touch or the iPhone, you’ll slowly realise that the touch screen isn’t all that.

Why? The touch screen is resistive, not capacitive, which means that a “click” is only registered when two thin layers of the screen get pushed together under the pressure from my finger (or stylus). AFAIK, the iPhone uses something called “projected capacitive” screens, and you don’t need actual contact (and it works well for multi-touch).

It still applies, with the Nokia N97. Sigh.

From the event itself, some other interesting bits:

  • It seems that 40% of Internet use is mobile. I’ve not seen this anywhere else, but if this is the case, everyone better be designing for mobile use.
  • Its interesting to see that the Ovi Store is a Social AppStore. What does that mean? It means you get regional differentiation. This can mean two things: some apps may not be available in certain regions (say games in China), or it could also mean that you’ll see relevant apps for the area you’re in… so if you’re in KL and fly to London, you’ll see more London specific apps. The social bit? Well, you can see what your friends are using, and this can affect ranking. I presume all this means you need to have an Ovi.com account, and add friends there, so what Nokia is effectively trying to do is create a social network of Ovi users. I don’t like this idea, because I feel there are already too many social networks out there, and studies have shown that you can be active on at most, 3 social networks at any given time.
  • There was a very interesting machinama styled ad, created by Text100 Malaysia, which I hope Erna @Mahyuni and @DavidLian get placed online, ASAP. I think its better than the normal Nokia N97 ad ;)
  • Yoon Kit asked on Twitter if the browser is HTML 5 compliant and if it’ll play OGG. I immediately replied that it isn’t, and later on during the briefing, he asked, and was told “they’ll get back to him”. Maybe it’ll come as an OTA update… But I don’t think open standards are big on everyone’s mind. Look at CD players in cars – they play MP3 and WMA. I’ve yet to find one that plays OGGs.
  • Ditesh asked by proxy if there will be SIP, with the SPEEX codec, and I also immediately replied that there was no SIP. However, upon asking, later at the briefing, we were told SIP will come as an OTA update. I’m weary as to when we’ll see this… but it also seems that you’ll get Skype built-in.
  • We were told that many in East Malaysia and other rural parts of the world, get their first experience of the Internet on their mobile phones. I somehow don’t believe that many in East Malaysia will get their first Internet experience via a RM2,500 phone. What do you think?

Yoon Kit and I chatted about Blackberry Connect, and I told him a lot of this is provided via Nokia Messaging (which is currently in beta, and free at the moment), which in a device itself, premiered in the Nokia E75 (its not apparent its in the N97 yet – probably a firmware update will help soon). He lamented that calendar and contact support is required, and I mentioned that webcal support isn’t available, per se, but if you have an Ovi.com account, you have calendar and contact syncing available… But the calendar, IMHO is primitive to Google Calendar’s sync/publish features, and I’ve never used a BlackBerry device, so I can’t realistically comment.

The camera on the device is pretty good, for a phone camera. A couple weeks back, I used the camera and the Facebook integration, to create an album (Testing the n97). Facebook is notorious for not keeping the hi-res images, so grab them from posterous or even flickr.

If I get my hands on the device, you can be ensured more tips, tricks, and usage information. More importantly, I’m going to focus on WRT widget development, the Ovi Store, and lots more. Mobile app development seems hot :-)

BTW, on Saturday 13 June 2009, selected Nokia stores will sell the device in Malaysia, at what is probably the SRP of RM2,480.


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