" the Q10 has dispensed with the Trackball."
That's a bit of a deal breaker for me, and up there with MS ditching the Start Button in Windows 8
One of my four-year-olds pointed to a BlackBerry Bold recently and exclaimed "It's HALF A PHONE!". She was pointing at the screen. And the other half? The answer, I elicited later, was that it was some kind of letters game. Just think about that for a moment. Every day of your life you've seen adults pawing at a phone, but …
The point? Cursor positioning is an obvious one.
This is one place where the touchscreen devices with onscreen keyboards have a serious problem. If I want to edit what I've just mistyped, I first need to move the cursor to the right place. In the absence of a trackball, trackpad or arrow keys, this involves poking the screen and then having the phone or tablet put the cursor in a random location that's fairly close to where I wanted it.
Usually takes a minimum of four stabs and some invective, to get the thing in the right place.
 Or, more usually, what some corrective feature has decided to replace my typing with.
Blackberry 10 had the circle surrounding the cursor so you could actually see where the cursor is placed. That was a nice touch, but you still had the problem of moving it a space or two. 10.1 added selection brackets on the circle that surrounds the cursor. Genius. You tap those to move the cursor a space at a time.
" 10.1 added selection brackets on the circle that surrounds the cursor. Genius. You tap those to move the cursor a space at a time"
Yeah maybe, but take a step back and consider that you're pleased with a convoluted fix to a problem that needn't have existed in the first place? It's why I compared it to Win8/Start button. Yes there are workarounds, yes you can almost get the same result, but why complicate it to begin with?
There's a reason that mice, trackpads, graphic tablets and rollerballs exist - precision.
"Sim-free from £579.95"
WHAT? You could get a Lumia for that with better screen, touch, camera, maps, nav, microphones, apps and OS for that.
Blackberry must off their nuts if they think people are going to pay nearly £600 for what these days is primarily a chav messaging hub.... No wonder Windows Phone pushed Blackberry into 4th spot.....
I was forced to use a 9900 with broken trackpad for a week, it was terrible (week because that's how long it took me to source part and replace it). Touch screen the size of 3" is clunky, imprecise (you do not actually see area under your finger) and slow (have to move hand away from keyboard) compared to trackpad, and I do not think Q10 improved on 9900 in this area since it's simple physical limitation.
Imaginably RIM could add "virtual trackad" , i.e. dedicated area of the screen similar to game controls on touch screens, but I doubt it would have the same precision as original. Unless they also added transparent on-screen hardware to support it, in which case I claim modest patent fee.
Lack of trackball may be a deal breaker fro me too.
I'll have to find a demo model in a bricks-and-mortar store and see whether it's as bad as I imagine having to prod a piece of dirty glass in precisely the right place to get things done. If it's anything like the iPad for text selection and link-clicking I'll likely not be buying one. It's a great shame as I've been holding out for one for a while now hoping it would be a traditional Blackberry with a funky new (for Blackberry) OS.
Very good point about small form factor tablets subtly changing the market. I use my phone far, far less now for general browsing and media checking than I once did and I find the compromise in screen size for the few occasions I do I find to be far less of a concern than it once would have been. I can really see this working well for Blackberry. Not sure about the point re: battery life though. I suspect the good battery life is actually matched by a lack of pre integrated and comprehensive cloud-service ecosystem and associated network checking. So you gain because you have already lost. Of course if you don't miss the loss, then it's a net benefit.
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Is the half sized screen will cut the number of supported apps in half too. Probably doesn't matter much if you spent your entire life using mail and calendar though. It won't help Blackberry developers though who have two distinct devices (3 if you count Playbook) to wrap their heads around.
She'd probably have been sued before the words were fully out of her mouth.
Its a good point though, and a depressing one. Fondleslabs just arent up to being used accurately. A case of "if it aint broke" that should attain the status of the "osbourne effect". The best phone I ever had was an E70 - if it had A2DP & SDHC I'd still be using it now, all of 20mb of free memory and I wrote most of two books on it.
For HTC and others... Please stop making phones *you* want to make and make the phones *I* want you to make. A2DP, Micro SD, QWERTY, HDMI, removable battery. Its not dragon science! They'll actually sell and you might actually make a profit..!
You do know what profit is right?
Still using a secondhand E71 -- QWERTY keyboard and decent battery life. Not much good for internet but , when temporarily without landine broadband, was able to import of BMP files to send as email attachments on a regular basis. Felt weird doing on a phone what I normally did on a desktop PC but it worked !
In theory should have been able to do better with a Blackberry with touch screen plus QWERTY but the slide out keyboard only suited tiny fingers. Current BBs are a nice change from generic Androids but the price is too high.
Call me old fashioned but I actually hate typing on a full touchscreen and find myself doing less and less messaging on my phone these days, instead primarily using it just for web browsing. I doubt I can even hit half of the typing speed I used get when using my old SE P1i.
Even simple things like trying to move a text cursor around an input field I find is horrible with a touchscreen, especially since so many touchscreens go right to the edge of the handset. Then simple things like needing to use it in the rain with wet fingers (happens more often than not in this country), the touchscreen sensor goes mental. A scrollball or jog wheel for text navigation and confirm/cancel would be a big improvement. But anyone who decides to make a decent Android with a qwerty keyboard that's not a nightmare to root and install CM would probably get my money in the future.
Full touchscreens on devices as small as phones just don't make sense to me. Tablet, probably. But phone, no, not in my experience of 3 different Android devices. Just give me some effing buttons! Though maybe I'm just a grumpy old 20 something.
Not at all grumpy, I'm old school and like QWERTY with buttons, I remember the first time a friend showed me his Blackberry years ago and it had a slide out keyboard, don't remember the type, and I thought it was cool. I have three friends who are waiting for the Q10 to become available in a few weeks.
The problem with the track pad on my last BB was that it was infuriatingly erratic, and moving the cursor with any precision was almost impossible. And yes, I did turn down the sensitivity (with only marginal improvement).
It's good to see BB having another stab at it, but relying on keyboard shortcuts reminiscent of an early 90's mobile phone seems somewhat... well... archaic.
I wonder if the new phone is shock / impact proof... My BB Bold came close to taking innumerable flying lessons through sheer frustration at its general inability to function satisfactorily in any regard.
…and a message to Blackberry: pulling the battery out should not form part of the normal user instructions. What's wrong with a proper 'on/off' key?
Agree with your points, also whilst its possible to type faster on a large touch screen when layed flat on a table I find I can hold and type on my BB bold using just one hand, useful when carrying briefcase, luggage, shopping basket or just drinking a cup of tea watching tv news and doing odd bit of browsing on subject I want more background on. This and answering calls -I used to get in a right mess with the swipe on the android particularly when I received a call whilst on another call or texting. That and other gripes with pure touch screen , accidentally sending half written email, texts........ Keyboard is just more precise. Pitty though I really like the bold touch pad which is now dropped. Think Register sums it up well - nice phone shame about the price.
Hmmm. Typing to get into applications, and swiping upwards to go home. What does that remind me of? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Pre_3
WebOS might have been crippled by poor implementation (ran like a drain on my Touchpad) and appalling management from HP, but it did have some really good bits of UI design. Perhaps this time they'll be better handled.
"Type and Go is a great feature, a natural for a real-QWERTY device, and very accessible (one swipe up, and start typing). It's so obvious you wonder why nobody thought of putting it into a smartphone before."
Erm, this was seen before, although admitedly by almost no-one...Palm's webOS had this feature (called Just Type) and as you've found on the Q10, it's an incredible feature. On my Pre 3 I don't even bother organinsing apps or anything (no wobbly icons for me, thankyou very much!), just start typing and things happen.
I really, really like the look of BB10 and the Q10 in particular, it seems to take the essense of true multitasking systems like webOS and Meego and distill it into something really productive, adding in the famed BlackBerry mechanical keys (if you want) to the mix too. I already have a PlayBook, BlackBerry may well find me all in soon
I was going to wait for one of these, but decided to go Z10 instead being used to a touch screen. I think BB have hit the sweet spot with their OS to cater for both (BB6/7 never worked properly on touchscreen devices). My brother has the Q10 and can see how much of a beast it is (very good quality materials) and works effortlessly.
BB just need to lure the big app makers to comes over (Spotify refusing to play ball at the moment especially) and they'll be having the last laugh over Microsoft big-time.
The battery pulls have gone, the OS is slick and it doesnt drop calls unlike the iPhone 4 did to me in iOS5/6. It'll take a lot from Apple to pull me back to an iPhone device. Especially if BB can keep pumping out updates regularly that add more useful features and mature the product further.
Very nice well considered article.
WRT apps: The important thing is to get the user base growing. Then, developers will invest more in developing apps. Android ports are a good way to provide an app quickly, and they often work reasonably well (I don't mind the difference). However, native (cascades, html5, ...) apps will probably lend themselves to a more efficient and better perceived experience. This creates opportunity for an upstart or competitor to unseat a developer that is well establish on another platform. As you mentioned, Blaq, is a highly regarded app on the BB10 OS which is arguably better than the twitter app. Enough people buy the phones and it will all work out.
"...really excels as an integrated organiser and communications device..."
Let's see. Does Q10 (or Z10, for that matter) have phone, calendar, and contacts as a single "integrated organizer"? None of the smartphones have that. None is a system, just a collection of non-integrated "apps".
Can I put a reminder to call John Smith at 10AM tomorrow in the calendar? So that the calendar prompts me to search the contacts, lets me choose the work/home/mobile/custom number (not type it in!), buzzes at 10AM, and lets me press a single large green button to stop buzzing and dial the right number? [Yes, I do use a call reminder *app* on Android, but it is not integrated with the calendar, so when I get a meeting invite for 15:00 next Monday the calendar does not tell me I promised to call a client at 15:30... No good... Must be in the calendar]
Can I add a contact number and an address to a meeting entry in the calendar, so that when a reminder buzzes 15 minutes before the meeting and I am in a car, stuck in traffic, I can JUST press a single green button to dial the right number and say I am going to be late?
Can I search the calendar by contact to see when my next meeting with John Smith is? E.g., start from contacts, press "search calendar"? Or press "add a calendar event? When the search results are presented, can I call John by pressing just one button? Press once to edit the appointment? Can I find Jane's birthday from the calendar? Hello, Google? You do search, right?
These are some of the things that a true "integrated organizer" *must* do for me. Old Nokia's feature phones could do much, if not all, of this stuff. Nokia put a lot of thought into important "workflows" such as these, before it "Eloped". No smartphone that I've seen so far can do any of the above. If BBs (or Lumias - have not tinkered with any yet) can do this, I am off to a store to buy one tomorrow. This is much more important on a phone than email or web browsing, let alone cameras or chats or any of the stupid shiny apps.
Sadly, Nokia haven't had much input into Windows Phone yet. As MS spent the update to WP8 on boring but worthy OS stuff. Maybe they'll get some stuff into the next update?
The People Hub is excellent, and combines messages and contacts well. Even adding in loads of social networking, if you like that sort of thing...
But it seems almost divorced from the calendar. And there's nothing to link location to both, so you can't do all the fancy location aware profiles stuff.
It's amazing how much of recent smartphone development has been to just chuck more features in. Yet very little effort has gone into integrating them all.
I've had a Z10 for the last few months, haven't found a way of creating the meeting as you described, but do like how when looking at the intact I see all that information and can search for it as well.
Ps. Siri on ios was very capable of creating new entries in exactly the way you described. I did that all the time, and not just meetings, but also create tasks with reminders etc
Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't recall any Nokia feature phones doing what you require in Paragraphs 1&2. Psion's organisers had a very rich Agenda, Nokia gradually made their phones dumber, with the 9300 Communicator probably being the last to have a semi-decent Calendar app. That was a Hildon device pretending to be a Series 80 device.
Very nice post, though TFMR. It shows how much work needs to be done, to get us to where we were in the 1990s.
The Q10 is really tempting. I've been carrying an Android phone for three years. I switched to Android during an extended BES outage. But after three years I still can't type as quickly or as comfortably as I could on my old Tour. And what Blackberry excelled at, better than any iOS, Android or (shudder) Windows phone, is that it is a PHONE first. The Tour excelled as a phone, over and above any Android or iOS based smartphone.
I'm really tempted to switch back to Blackberry. Will have to think about this.
I currently have a 9900 and usually want the latest BB. I looked at the Z10 - a big mistake for BB: there are many better non-keyboard smartphones out there at the same or lower prices. Their (BB) only hope is the Q10. I like the bigger size (although it could EASILY have had a bigger screen and still maintained the physical keyboard to boost sales - they will definitely lose sales due to the screen size), and I do like the OS. But the price point is probably a deal breaker.
I know some QWERTY buyers will pay anything for a BB with a physical keyboard.....but $800 for a cell phone is really pushing the limit. I probably will buy one - but not until prices come down (I have an old, inexpensive plan, so in order to maintain it I have to buy the phone up front).
I posted my thoughts yesterday on this handset, it either didnt get through or has been moderated out.
so heres another go.
I dispair of BB. This handset uses the same form factor but with upgraded s/ware.
It missed an opprtunity to make form fit the function. Ill enlarge on this. Its the same as a shoe maker making just one size that has to fit all feet.
If this shoemaker wants to survive it cant go down this road. nor can BB. The problem is as Ive written many times here on the register ,is that making a handset with small querty keys means that folk with big hands cant use them. another lost sale for BB, which they really cant afford in todays competitive market.
Once upon a time Nokia looked at who would use their communicator, and designed the product to suit. From their model 9110 onwards till the 9300 they had keyboards that really worked. I still use one today despite being 10 yrs old. Why? because its the nearest to a standard pc keyboard.
My time is too valuable to spend trying to type. Its the content that matters and how easy it is to use.
Form has to fit function NOT fashion.
"From their model 9110 onwards till the 9300 they had keyboards that really worked."
What was wrong with the keyboard on the 9000 that came before the 9110? What was wrong with the keyboards on E90 and E7 that followed the 9300?
Quite why the US still gets a reasonable range of qwerty slider phone but they don't get released outside the US I don't know.
Both this reply and the one following comment whats wrong?etc.
the 1st answer is simple, I dont have experience of those nokia handsets.
2nd answer, the keys on any BB are TOO small for me to use. I cannot hit one on its own I invariably hit 2!! so i cant use it, whereas the Nokia 9210 I currently use has properly spaced keys for BIG hands.
If youve not seen one look for one on Ebay.
hope you now understand..
I played about briefly with one of these at a stall BB set up in a shopping centre last week. First gripe was indeed the lack of trackball, as that means no way round the touchscreen for a lot of navigation. But then the competition is all touch screens, so no matter what my next phone is there'll be a learning curve.
Type and Go is a huge plus though, and based on that review more powerful than what I'd been shown which is great. That and keyboard shortcuts.
I don't think I'll be replacing my Bold 9780 just yet though, £600 is a lot of money, and £35 a lot more per month than what I'm spending right now.
Being a Bold 9700 user I waited until the Q10 was available to have it replaced. Alas corporate would not put it on their approved list due to concerns over:
1) the cost to upgrade the existing BES server to the version that is compatible with the Blackberry 10 operating system.
2) the long term viability of Blackberry as a business.
I even asked that the Q10 connect to the Corporate Exchange as an activesync device (same as the iphone) but they came back with "Our standard is iPhone, with no plans to add BB10 devices at this time."
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