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Five things we don't like about the new BlackBerry
Yesterday, we told you what we liked about the new BlackBerry lineup. The new look BlackBerry, both the devices and company, are a much needed overhaul. They have a lot to offer, but fall well short of what they need to be. BlackBerry needed a home run, but gave us an over-the-fence double. With such a long time off, you’d think BlackBerry could have absolutely killed it. Instead, what we saw was a few interesting features drowning in a sea of inadequate.
Here are our five least favorite things about the new BlackBerry 10. Enjoy!
When you see a mobile device, it can be love at first sight, or vitriol spiked with sadness. With the BlackBerry Z10, I didn’t fall in love. In fact, it looks too much like an iPhone for me to immediately take it seriously. It was probably a wise decision to play it safe with the design, as this is BlackBerry’s first real touchscreen device. There isn’t much room to go with designing a device like this, but to mirror the iconic iPhone is just in poor taste.
The Q10 is that tried and true BlackBerry design: smaller screen and a physical keyboard. Oddly enough, the Q10 was a comforting sight, even if it is dated and silly. It’s just nostalgia, and I wonder just how many of the BlackBerry faithful will want this design over the Z10.
Oh, that BlackBerry world. It may have over 70,000 apps at launch, but that pales in comparison to Apple, Android, and Amazon. That’s an impressive number, and it’s hopefully a good start with more on the way. We only have today to consider, though, as there is no news of anything else in the works.
So many apps, and not one Google service. Sure they have a navigation function (keep reading…), but it’s very limited. The YouTube “app” is simply a bookmark to the mobile site, and Google+ is nowhere to be found. We don’t even have access to Google Drive, and BlackBerry is supposed to be geared toward business. Is there an Amazon mp3 app? Nope. No Netflix, Flipboard, or Instagram either.
The services they do offer are great, but proprietary to BlackBerry. The BlackBerry messenger updates are wonderful, though you need two devices on that service to make it work. With such a small market share and users that have been driven away to Android or iOS, who will you enjoy those features with? The only instance in which I see it being truly useful is if a company switched their staff to BlackBerry. That would have been feasible months ago, but BlackBerry has lost far too much ground in enterprise to make that a reality.
Actually, the lack of maps is what we will discuss here. BlackBerry’s “maps” function is provided by TomTom, known for making aftermarket GPS systems. Reviews note the turn-by-turn function is nice, but there are quite a few omissions. A lack of native public transportation information inside the app is cause for concern. If the Android TomTom app is any indication, it will be stripped down and require extra payment for services like real-time traffic updates.
Nobody expected BlackBerry to build maps natively, but they sure could have made sure more was included. They still have some time before launch, so I hope they remedy this. Maps is a very important feature for many, myself included. If BlackBerry has any hope of swaying people to switch (or even stay), they have to bring their apps and features up to par with the rest of the industry.
BlackBerry is geared toward business professionals on the go, so poor battery life will put users off the platform. Unfortunately, reviews suggest the BB10 battery life is subpar. Just why power management is so bad with BB10 remains to be seen, but the inability to get through a day without bleeding the device dry is not a good sign. Curiously, the Q10 has a larger battery than the Z10. The batteries are removable and replaceable, though purchasing a replacement battery is a lot to expect of someone.
The method by which you navigate BB10 is through gestures, as the screen has no buttons. Swiping from the right or left, top or bottom brings up different options for the application or service you’re using. It definitely sets BlackBerry apart, but perhaps being so different is a bad idea at this stage of the game.
Our current methods of navigating smartphones may be different, but they also have their similarities. We are comfortable with buttons, even if they have the ability to be hidden. Already under the microscope, asking users to radically change the way they think and react to the mobile device could dissuade anyone from jumping aboard. It’s also the method of navigation for the upcoming Ubuntu phone, so I wonder just how inventive it really is.
Even though I’m pointing out the flaws with BB10, I really do want BlackBerry to succeed. With an 18 month layoff, they could have done much better. It was clear all along that BlackBerry was only interested in going all-in, betting on themselves. They know they can’t beat Apple or Google, but they can definitely disrupt the game. To have done so, we would have had to been amazed today, but the momentum is already gone. On to the Samsung Galaxy S4, I guess.