BlackBerry Classic

The BlackBerry Classic aims to succeed where the BlackBerry Bold 9900 did not. Released in 2011, the 9900 had BlackBerry 7 OS, powerful hardware, BlackBerry’s four-row QWERTY keyboard and a touch screen, but it didn’t exactly reverse the company’s fortunes, in the wake of iOS and Android.

Three years later the $449 BlackBerry Classic (about £285, AU$546) keeps BlackBerry’s signature design, but relies on the fond memories of BlackBerry fans. You still get that great keyboard, and it even runs Android apps, but the 3.5-inch display is uncomfortably small in the age of the big-screen phones, and the awkward square aspect ratio hampers all activities except composing and editing text. Hardcore emailers who just can’t deal with touchscreen typing may find enough of RIM’s glory days here to give two thumbs up — before giving those same digits a workout on this fantastic hard keyboard.

BlackBerry-Classic

BlackBerry has already taken another swing at that signature Bold design, which we saw in last year’s BlackBerry Q10 — unsurprisingly, the Classic was originally known as the Q20. In any event, you’ll find a 3.5-inch display that’s a little larger than the Q10’s, but retains a square 720×720-pixel resolution. The phone itself is 5.1 inches tall, 2.8 inches wide and 0.4 inch thick.

As the name suggests, the phone boasts classic BlackBerry design. A stainless-steel frame borders the full length of the phone, at once lending the device strength and style. Three buttons sit on the right side: your volume controls, and a mute button — press and hold it to call up the BlackBerry Assistant. The SIM card and SD card slots sit on the left side: the phone accepts nano-SIM cards, and SD cards up to 128GB. The back is bare save for the BlackBerry logo, but has a grippy texture that feels nice to hold.

Of course this is a BlackBerry, so we’re here for the keyboard. BlackBerry has always positioned itself as the champion of folks who wouldn’t dream of leaving a physical keyboard behind, and the company’s efforts shine here. The layout will be really familiar to anyone who’s used a BlackBerry in the last three or four years, and it’s nearly identical to the one that appeared on the Q10.

Three rows of keys run along the width of the phone, and the smaller, fourth row sits beneath that. Typing feels fantastic: every key is shaped with little ridges and depressions so if you’re touch typing, you’ll always be aware of when your fingers shift between keys, which helps with accuracy. And the keys offer a nice, satisfying click with every press, which leaves you typing confidently.

Four more utility keys sit just below the display — Call, Menu, Back and End — which do exactly what they say. An optical touchpad sits in the middle and serves as a cursor that lets you scoot around websites or documents, and makes it really easy to select reams of text or batches of emails to tweak en masse. The Classic also offers shortcut keys: hold down particular keys to quickly access particular functions. Holding “A,” for example, brings up the Address Book, while holding “Q” will quickly toggle silent mode. You can also press any key on the keyboard and assign your own shortcuts to particular contacts or apps.

The BlackBerry Classic runs BlackBerry 10.3.1, and the experience here is pretty much identical to the one we saw on the BlackBerry Passport. Software remains the platform’s weakness, and while it does support Android apps, you’re largely limited to whatever’s available on the Amazon Appstore. If you happen to have an APK file for the app you want to install, you can load that up too. There’s also the BlackBerry World app store: BlackBerry says that the general expectation is that you’ll get secure, enterprise level apps from BlackBerry World, while turning to the Amazon app store for your entertainment needs.

The limited app selection is a bit bummer, but the square aspect ratio is going to be a bigger problem, as a lot of Android apps just look odd in a square format. There’s a fix of sorts: if you swipe down from the top of the screen in BlackBerry 10.3.1, you’ll call up an app’s menu. When you’re running Android apps, you’ll see a prompt for “Size” — tap it, and you’ll be able to choose from three different screen ratio presets, which might help things a tad.


Blackberry and Boeing Developing Self Destructing Smartphone

Canadian tech company is working with the Boeing Co. on the development of a smart-phone that self-destructs. The highly secretive project is intended for use by the military, contractors and employees of the Department of Homeland Security. Limited news of the project was announced by Blackberry CEO, John Chen on the company’s earning call on Friday Dec 19. He stated that Blackberry was collaborating with Boeing to create a secure solution for mobile devices powered by Google’s Android Operating System, and the company’s BES12 secure mobile management platform. BES12 was introduced in November, as Enterprise Mobile Management platform for controlling devices across all mobile operating systems, including iOs, Android, and Windows.

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The collaboration may seem to be an attractive proposition for both companies; Boeing expands into other areas, as sales for military components have declined after budgets by the Pentagon and Blackberry fortifies its position as a government and enterprise provider, following declines in commercial sales. Boeing had announced the development of a secure smart phone, called the Boeing Black, earlier in the year, but there was very little said about Blackberry’s involvement. However, Andy Lee, a spokesman for Boeing has since stated that a number of opportunities are being pursued, where the Boeing Black would be coupled with the Blackberry Enterprise Service to ensure an ultra-high level of security, such as is required by security and defense communities.

In a brochure published on the Boeing website, there are very few technical details about the smart phone, which is described as being able to deliver security, productivity and modularity in a fully trusted mobile device. However, a few key features are mentioned in the product specification card, and Bruce Olcott, who is retained as counsel to Boeing, had earlier requested in a letter to the FCC, that design and technical details be kept undisclosed.
The phone does not seem to be dramatically different from other smartphones, but as well as providing encrypted call, it includes a covering of the heads of the screws that hold the casing together. It is this covering that is most intriguing, as it identifies any attempts to dismantle the device. When attempts are made to open the phone, functions to delete software and data contained in the device are triggered, rendering the device inoperable.

The Black phone has been in development for three years, and includes support for biometric identification as well as satellite, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. It is also capable of operating on solar power using multiple modes and frequencies. According to the filings made to the FCC, the Boeing Black, on which the company is working with Blackberry, is aimed primarily at government contractors and agencies with a need for high levels of secure data transmission. The handset is slightly larger than the iPhone and has been designed from the ground up. It weighs slightly less than 170 gm, and measures 13.2 cm in length, and is 6.7 cm wide. Details about the networks, nor associated manufacturers are not disclosed, nor is there yet any mention of price or availability, but the company indicates that the device is already being offered to potential customers.

BlackBerry Will Release The Redesigned Porsche Design P’9982

BlackBerry has released the Porsche Design P’9983 along with the business-centric, BlackBerry Passport. The company is known for its high-end models that are not destined for your average phone users. Phones in the Porsche Design lineup is designed for people with conspicuous consumption. Recently, we heard that the company is working on a renewed model of the Porsche Design P’9982. The device is based on the all-touch BlackBerry Z10, which ran the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

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The new P’9982 should available in black color and have similarity with the earlier Porsche Design P’9981. More colors will be available next month and these may include aqua green, red and black on cognac. There should be no change in pricing and the phone will be available for about $2000. Other than the slightly redesigned appearance, the new P’9982 will run the latest BlackBerry 10.3 operating system with the built-in BlackBerry Assistant. It is a virtual assistant that works like Google Now, Cortana and Siri.

The company has been trying to claw its way back in the smartphone market and smartphone release of high-end devices is a way to establish its presence as a manufacturer of high-end devices.

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Blackberry Z30 – Comparison of Interface and Software Specifications

Samsung released the Galaxy S5 handset with a different approach with respect to the design and features of its flagship smartphone.

The handset does not come packed with a plethora of enthusiasm for the potential user. However, the Galaxy S5 is the product for the people, looking forward to have a delightful smartphone experience. The GS5 comes equipped with requisite features and specifications, which are meaningful and offer the user with an enhanced smartphone experience. The aim of the company is to provide the potential user with a decent smartphone experience, not to complicate it.

In comparison, the Blackberry comes equipped with a large screen, bigger battery and a superb processor, running the state of the art, BB 10.2 operating system. The Blackberry Z30 is the new flagship smartphone from the company, replacing its predecessor, the 4.2-inch Blackberry Z10 smartphone.

Let us compare the two handsets in terms of their interface and functionality.

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Interface and Functionality

Samsung Galaxy S5

The Android version 4.4.2 KitKat powers the Galaxy S5’s TouchWiz user interface. The handset has been given simple visual enhancements; such as built-in widgets appear flat and simple looking, offering solid colors to the user. Overall, the UI has been improved to provide the potential user with a simple, cleaner and a more polished look. The introduction of tap effect and effective response timings offer a great UI experience.

Phonebook: The dark layout, user friendly and large buttons offer the potential user with great smartphone experience. The AMOLED displays offer darker colors while consuming less energy. The dialer comes equipped with numeric keys, which are spacious as in its earlier siblings. The contact list comes with similar options as that of its predecessors.

Messaging: The messaging application of the GS5 handset offers the user with flattened visuals and a helpful set of options. The built-in QWERTY keyboard works better in the landscape mode, providing the user with bigger letter keys.

Fingerprint Sensor: The fingerprint sensor is placed under the display of the GS5 handset. The user has to swipe the finger across the screen, for the sensor to recognize the fingerprint. However, the success rate of the sensor recognizing the fingerprint is very less as compared to that of the Apple iPhone 5S handset. It is better to register the index finger or any other finger onto the device, which can be placed perfectly in the position to provide a better success rate.

Heart Rate Monitor: The heart rate monitor is designed to track an array of parameters in relation to your health. A finger placed on the LED flash, located on the back panel, would calculate your pulse. The S Health offers the user with a plethora of other fitness applications.

Blackberry Z30

The BB 10 OS is snappy, fluid and polished, similar to any other modern day smartphone operating system should be. The new UI of the Blackberry Z30 offers the user with a smooth functioning of the smartphone along with giving its adversaries a run for their money. The Blackberry 10.2 offers the user with neat features, aiming to make the life easier for the potential user. The company has put in a lot of efforts, for the user to gain access to the notifications with ease.

Messaging: Blackberry handsets are renowned for their messaging dexterity. The user friendly QWERTY physical keyboard is a boon to have. However, the BB Z30 comes equipped with a touchscreen, with a different keyboard layout. Despite the touchscreen not being equipped with latest gimmicks, the on-screen keyboard does not fail to impress the potential user. The bigger display of the Blackberry Z30 comes equipped with large and responsive buttons.

Software: The BB Z30 handset comes equipped with a plethora of apps, approximately 70,000 apps in the Blackberry World. However, they are not complete in terms of features, as compared to similar apps on other platforms.

Overall, both the handsets offer the potential user with a great smartphone experience.

BlackBerry May Be Working on a Smartwatch of Its Own

Apple, Motorola and Samsung aren’t the only companies with their sights set on wearables.

BlackBerry, the smartphone maker that always seems to be just a little late to the party, may also be close to stepping into the world of wearable tech, according to CEO John Chen.

The Waterloo-based company is currently researching wearable platforms, including smartwatches and smart glasses, Chen told reporters at the Super Mobility Conference in Las Vegas.

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“I would love to have… BBM on a wearable,” Chen said, according to Computerworld. “It’s definitely an area of research for us.”

Upon hearing news of the remarks, several people tweeted their own renderings of what a BlackBerry smartwatch could look like.

While Chen’s comments are far from definitive, the fact that BlackBerry is even considering entering the still nascent wearables market is an interesting move for the company. Long overshadowed by just about every other manufacturer — including Samsung and Apple, which just introduced its own watch on Tuesday — BlackBerry, once on top of the mobile market, has struggled to keep up with competitors and maintain profits.

But under the leadership of Chen, who began as CEO in November, the company has been attempting a comeback by doubling down on efforts to reach customers in emerging markets, appealing to those who want smartphones with physical keyboards and ramping up its app offerings through a partnership with Amazon.

Nexus 5 next phone

Nexus S. I used it till last year when I got a Samsung Galaxy Note II. One of my qualms about getting the Note II was going from stock Android to Touchwiz. At the time, I thought it would be fine since I stopped developing Android applications, but I speculated that debugging on a stock Android device would be more convenient than on a non-stock Android Device. For the most part, I was right.

Touchwiz isn’t that bad. There are a lot of positives to Touchwiz such as applications, camera functionality, S Pen integration, and the multi window. One feature I use all the time is the ability to lift the phone to my ear when I’m texting someone and without touching anything the phone dials the person. I personally enjoyed it but with the recent update to the Hangouts as a SMS portal, I felt the absence of that feature. The Samsung Galaxy Note II came with a stylus, called S Pen, and there’s a bunch of cool software that utilizes it. The S Pen is one of the reasons why I got a Note II. Although I don’t use the feature as much as I thought I would, I used it to write down random notes. The multiwindow function is also pretty cool. Multiwindow allows for two apps to be use at the same time. Multiwindow automatically evenly splits the screen between the two apps but you can adjust the split to give one app more area. It’s really useful to use if you want to read or check something while watching a YouTube video. Although not all apps support it, the major apps like YouTube, Chrome, and Facebook do.

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The number 1 thing I missed about stock Android is Google Voice. One of the first thing I did when I got my Samsung Galaxy Note II was to set up Google Voice. After weeks of messing around with my voicemail, I concede to a phone without Google Voice. You can set Google Voice as your voicemail or as your primarily phone service. I just set it as my voicemail since I already have T-mobile. Each time someone leaves a voicemail, Google Voice automatically sends you an email with details of the voicemail including the transcription. This is actually very useful for me because I tend to be in situations that causes me to miss voice calls. Not to mention my original voicemail with T-mobile does not include anything about who the voicemail is from. Which really irritates me when the voice mail doesn’t contain anything that can help identify the caller. Especially when you have no service and people call you. Your phone doesn’t give you any notification that you missed any calls.

Contrary to what I actually use my phone for, I believe that the primary function of my phone should be for communication. Google Voice aids tremendously in my communication. Thus, for my next phone, I can’t imagine having a Google Voiceless phone.

BlackBerry Ltd Price Target Raised After Results

BlackBerry Ltd  released its latest earnings report earlier this week, posting losses that weren’t as bad as expected. Analysts are starting to weigh in on those results, and while many still don’t see much of a future for the company, a few firms have raised their price targets.

BlackBerry makes progress

In one report dated June 19, 2014, RBC Capital Markets analysts Mark Sue, Paul Treiber and Ameet Prabhu increased their price target from $11 to $12 per share. They maintained their Sector Perform rating on the company. They believe BlackBerry Ltd is actually making some progress in its turnaround efforts. They actually think the company’s target for breakeven cash flow is “within reach.”

They note that BlackBerry Ltd’s declines in service revenues are slowing down and that the company’s handset division is almost profitable. Also the company’s channel inventory is declining, and there appears to be solid uptake of BES 10 and the upcoming BES 12, as 10% of the 1.2 million licenses BlackBerry has distributed came from competitors’ licenses that were traded in.

BlackBerry’s cash flow, inventory, hardware look better

According to the RBC Capital team, BlackBerry Ltd could see a bit of a cash flow headwind in the second half of the current calendar year. The analysts cite the upcoming new handsets, which are the Passport and the Classic.

The company’s service revenue fell 10% quarter over quarter, which was a little better than their estimate of 13%. The analysts believe the lower decline in this segment is due to upselling from newer value-add services like premium enterprise services. They also say subscriber attrition appears to be slowing down.

BlackBerry Ltd has begun the next hardware cycle and reported a 23% quarter over quarter increase in handset sales, which rose to 1.6 million. The company launched the Z3 handset during the quarter.

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BBM, QNX show promise

The RBC team also noted that BBM and QNX are still in their early stages but called them “enticing.” BlackBerry Ltd reported 85 million monthly active users of BBM and a total of 160 million users. The company expects to see its monthly active users for the messaging app to hit 100 million by the end of this year, thanks to the app’s launch on Windows phone and the pre-loading of it on the Lumia handsets. BlackBerry management expects BBM to generate $100 million in revenue during the 2016 fiscal year, mainly because of the launch of BBM Protected, which is targeted at enterprise customers.

Although the company did not say how much revenue it got from QNX, it did say it expects growth there to continue thanks to “new design wins” in the automotive segment and also new verticals like healthcare. The RBC team notes that royalty revenue from QNX comes with high margins, which could give BlackBerry Ltd’s profitability a boost over time.

The Passport is BlackBerry newest oddest looking smartphone

Turns out BlackBerry’s stronger-than-expected financial performance wasn’t the only surprise the company had for us today. CEO John Chen took a few moments during this morning’s earnings call to mention its newest phone: it’s called the BlackBerry Passport and it’s, well… just look at it. Bizarre.

BlackBerry teased the existence of a new device with a square, high-resolution screen before, but the Passport’s design isn’t exactly what we were expecting. Unlike other BlackBerrys with squared-off displays, the folks in Waterloo didn’t feel the need to craft a more traditional (some would say more hand-friendly) chassis. Nope, the Passport seems to bask in its angular tendencies, and that 4.5-inch display running at 1,440 x 1,440 — which works out to a pixel density of 452 pixels per inch — is clearly the star of the show. If reports hold true, you’ll also be able to trace out gestures directly on the (now cramped) keyboard, though why you’d do that instead of paw at a touchscreen is still unclear.

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The company implored us all to “be bold” a few years back, and it’s definitely taking its own advice this time. Then again, squarish phones don’t have a particularly stellar track record. Remember the Pantech Pocket? The Motorola Flipout? LG’s Optimus Vu? We didn’t think so. The Passport is expected to make its official debut at a September launch event in London, so we’ll soon see if there’s something special lurking in within the Passport’s kooky frame.