BlackBerry’s first Android phone was a curious, ambitious machine, so it’s funny that the company’s second turned out to be so … practical. The $299 DTEK50 is affordable from the get-go, lacks a physical keyboard and was basically tailor-made for corporations to buy in bulk. Seriously: BlackBerry has been pretty candid about the fact that this is a “fleet” device, a supersecure phone it hopes will attract companies trying to trick out their mobile workforce. BlackBerry is trying to pitch this to regular people too, though, and in the process, it’s hurling the DTEK into a crowded, crazy-competitive pool of midrange phones. Spoiler alert: It’s probably not for you.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already know BlackBerry didn’t design the DTEK50 by itself. Instead, the company chose a reference design from TCL — the folks behind the Alcatel brand — that offered the level of performance it was after. That decision was… divisive, to say the least. CEO John Chen has long said that BlackBerry would stay in the hardware game as long as there was money in it, and by customizing an existing design, the company just saved heaps of money on product development. The flipside is that the finished device doesn’t really feel like a BlackBerry.
I’ll be the first to admit that sounds a little silly, but still, I was a little worried when I first heard the news. BlackBerry has historically taken pride in designing its devices, from pint-size beauties like the Pearl series to last year’s delightfully bonkers Priv. Pulling an existing design off a shelf and adding BlackBerry accents like a logo and a textured rubber back didn’t sit right with me at first, even though the company maintains it’s a pretty common practice.
Ultimately, though, it’s safe to say that these concerns only really matter to mobile wonks like me. Once I got down from my high horse, I was met with a device that’s respectably well built and even sort of handsome (in an understated sort of way). The company also says the DTEK50 is the thinnest BlackBerry ever, which helps explain the mediocre 2,610mAh battery squeezed in there. I’ll dig into that a little later; for now, just know that the DTEK50 manages to be very light without ever feeling cheap. Nice work, TCL.
Unlike last year’s premium Priv, we’re working with a midrange list of specifications: an octa-core Snapdragon 617 chipset with 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 405 GPU. Alas, there’s no physical keyboard this time; you’ll be typing your messages on a 5.2-inch, 1080p IPS LCD touchscreen. Flanking the display is a surprisingly capable pair of stereo speakers, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera and a notification LED up top. But don’t get too excited, BlackBerry loyalists: It only blinks white. Meanwhile, the DTEK50’s backside is home to a 13-megapixel camera (with phase-detection autofocus, no less) and a two-tone LED flash.
For a phone that’s so focused on security, it’s a little odd that the DTEK50 doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner. The reason is purely practical: BlackBerry had to keep costs down. That’s probably also why the DTEK50 comes with only 16GB of internal storage. (Thankfully, you can add up to 2TB of storage by way of a microSD card slot.)
What we got instead of said scanner is a convenience key that sits below the volume rocker on the phone’s right edge. The premise is simple, enough: You can set it to launch apps or perform specific actions like calling someone or turning on the flashlight. Alas, the convenience key isn’t always very convenient. It won’t work while the phone is locked — something its distant relative, the Idol 4S, does just fine — and you can’t use it to snap a quick photo or take screenshots. More important, that key sits where most phones have their power buttons, and it took me an entire week to get used to that tricky placement. (If you’d rather not reset your muscle memory, you can make the convenience key unlock the phone too.)
Display and sound
The Priv’s fancy, curved AMOLED panel obviously wasn’t going to make the jump into a midrange phone, but — surprise, surprise — the 5.2-inch LCD we got on the DTEK50 is pretty damned good. It runs at 1080p (that’s a pixel density of 424 ppi, if you didn’t feel like doing the math), making for plenty of crisp text and visuals. It lacks the sort of punchy colors and deep blacks we got from the Priv, but who cares? They’re accurate, and the screen and scratch-resistant glass covering it are laminated together, so viewing angles are great. (If the color temperature doesn’t do it for you out of the box, you can tweak it in the device’s settings.)
In fact, the only time the DTEK50’s display seems to fall short is when you look at it next to other devices that cost about the same. ZTE’s Axon 7 will cost only $100 more when it launches in the US in September, and it features a beautiful Quad HD screen. Would it have been nice to get a higher-res screen on the DTEK50? Sure. Would it have made any sense, considering BlackBerry is trying to sell these en masse to businesses? Not even a little.
The audio quality another pleasant surprise, given that BlackBerry has never paid much attention to it in the past. I always feel a little twinge of giddiness when a phone I’m reviewing has stereo speakers, and the DTEK50’s offer crisp highs and decent channel separation for immersive sound. Even better, the speaker setup is replicated on the phone’s back so the jams won’t stop even when the DTEK50 is lying face down. Still, they’re far from perfect: Most songs I tried sounded hollow. What’s more, the DTEK’s maximum volume isn’t terribly loud, though it’ll do fine for podcasts and YouTube videos. The DTEK50 also comes with Waves’ MaxxAudio tuner, but your mileage may vary. The app’s presets usually succeeded in making my songs sound different, but not necessarily better.
Software and security
Now that the company is willing to almost completely outsource hardware design and production, BlackBerry’s soul boils down to two things: software and security. Unless it nails both of those things, then, there’s little reason to buy into the company’s vision. As far as the former goes, there’s no point in hiding it: I dig BlackBerry’s take. Things haven’t changed dramatically since the Priv’s days — the company didn’t mess with Android 6.0.1 itself. Most of the same tricks are back and they still focus on getting things done fast.
Swiping up from the bottom of the screen, for instance, brings up shortcuts to the dialer, the Device Search app and BlackBerry’s Hub. Long story short, the hub acts as a one-stop shop for your messages, be they emails, BBMs, texts, Facebook messages or Viber pings. I typically prefer the rush of pseudo-productivity that comes with jumping in and out of multiple apps, but it didn’t take long to appreciate having a single place to triage all the stuff that flew into my inbox. (As a bonus, you can now download this app from the Play Store and use it on other Android devices too.)
Meanwhile, peer closely enough at the screen and you’ll see the edge of a tab all the way on the right. Swiping on that opens the Productivity tab, where you’ll find a rundown of the day’s calendar events, unread messages, tasks that need completing and favorite contacts (you know, just because). Just like Samsung’s Edge UX, it’s easy to forget the feature even exists, but it’s handy when you do remember it’s there.
If that wasn’t enough swiping, you can view an app’s widgets in a pop-up window (as opposed to finding room for them on your home screens) by swiping up on them. It’s a neat touch that gives you extra context without having to fully open the app, but I never really use widgets in the first place. That swiping continues when you use BlackBerry’s software keyboard. Fan that I am of Google’s in-house keyboard, I love what BlackBerry has come up with: It’s perfectly sized, it’s precise and swiping up on word suggestions to complete messages is actually pretty fun. It’s easily one of the finest keyboards available on an Android phone, which is only natural considering the company that made it. Curiously, though, one of the BlackBerry’s neatest software touches didn’t make the leap here: You can no longer set a Picture Password, which is puzzling because it worked fine on the Priv.
Obviously, the DTEK50’s biggest selling point is security, and I haven’t dwelled on it until now is because it’s almost completely invisible to the person using the phone. You can’t tell that a hardware root of trust was baked into the phone during manufacturing, just like you can’t tell the phone is fully encrypted by default. The only real reminder that the DTEK50 is more locked down than most is the namesake DTEK app, which offers an at-a-glance look at how secure the phone is. But here’s the rub: DTEK is what you make of it. You’ll get a rating and a checklist of things that are or aren’t going well on the phone upon launch, but after you take basic precautions like setting up a PIN, the app mostly just says everything is excellent.
It’s when you dig a little further that DTEK’s value really becomes apparent — it outlines which apps have access to certain parts of the phone and counts up how many times those apps try to gain access. As of this writing, for instance, Facebook Messenger has tapped into my device’s contacts nearly 500 times. In certain cases, you can even see where you were when an app tried to gain access. More important, permissions can easily be revoked and apps can be quickly uninstalled from within DTEK, making it yet another one-stop shop for functions that would normally be buried in settings menus.
I wasn’t expecting much from the DTEK50’s 13-megapixel camera. After all, BlackBerry hasn’t had the best track record with imaging performance, and on at least one occasion it didn’t bother with a camera at all. It turns out that fretting was for nothing: The DTEK50 won’t win any photography awards, but both its main and front-facing cameras were respectable performers. That main sensor around back has a f/2.0 aperture lens and a phase-detection autofocus system; too bad it lacks the optical image-stabilization offered on last year’s Priv.
Even so, my photos contained plenty of detail, with nicely balanced colors in good lighting conditions. Don’t expect too much from the DTEK50 in low light; you’ll see grain and soft edges everywhere (even after the phone applies it multiframe low-light enhancements). I really shouldn’t have been surprised at the DTEK50’s performance here — midrange phones have become more impressive on all fronts, cameras included. That said, I still preferred the photos I took with the similarly priced Moto G4 Plus, which packs a 16-megapixel sensor and an additional laser auto-focus module.
BlackBerry still gets some credit for piecing together a good camera app, though. A shutter button lives on the right edge of the screen, with a handy exposure slider, mode selector and a panel of photo filter effects nearby for easy access. More serious photographers will get some mileage out of the included manual mode, which allows for finer control over focus, white balance, shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO. It’s not the most polished camera app, but it’s enough to get the job done.
Performance and battery life
This is where things start to get hairy. The octa-core Snapdragon 617 (with four 1.5GHz cores and four 1.2GHz cores) is a well-known chipset at this point and has landed starring roles in phones like the fourth-generation Moto G line and the HTC One A9. For the most part, that combination of CPU cores and 3GB of RAM keep the DTEK50 running without issue. It’s certainly not flagship level, but launching apps, multitasking and generally just getting things done generally aren’t a problem. Graphically intense games sometimes threw the DTEK50 for a bit of a loop, but I could usually log plenty of time in Asphalt 8 with the visual settings cranked up before noticing any slowdown.
Once in a while, though, the phone would start to stutter, even during pretty basic tasks, before eventually returning to normal. I didn’t see hiccups this frequently while playing with other 617-powered devices, though that’s not to say they were immune to the occasional slowdown. I could usually clear things up by closing all running apps, and I suspect at least sometimes the problem was caused by using the DTEK50 out in the summer heat. Thankfully, these issues didn’t crop up every day, and with any luck a post-launch software patch will help smooth things out a bit.
HTC One A9
3DMark IS Unlimited
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps)
The battery, meanwhile, has been awfully hit-or-miss. BlackBerry and TCL fitted the phone with a 2,610mAh nonremovable cell that typically saw me through a full workday and then some before giving up the ghost. That’s about 14 hours of pretty consistent, mixed use — my days involve lots of phone calls, emails, Slack messages and card-slinging in Hearthstone, for the record. That’s in line with what we’ve seen from other midrange phones, which makes the DTEK50’s lackluster performance in our standard video rundown test so surprising. The phone looped a 720p video with screen brightness set to 50 percent and WiFi connected for just under eight hours, putting it well below the LG G5 (with a similar size battery) and either of this year’s new Moto Gs. In fairness, that’s not exactly a natural use case — I don’t know many people who’d watch videos on their phones for eight hours straight — but it’s still sort of a let-down.
BlackBerry clearly wants to sell tons of DTEK50s to businesses, and among corporate buyers, the company’s storied brand and devotion to security might give the phone an edge. The thing is, BlackBerry is trying to sell these to regular people too, and on that front, the DTEK50 faces a much tougher fight. Consider this year’s Moto G Plus, an enhanced version of the fourth-generation Moto G that launched alongside it. For $299, you’ll get a phone with the same Snapdragon chipset as the DTEK50 but with more RAM (4GB), more storage out of the box (64GB), a better camera (16 megapixels), a fingerprint sensor and an almost-stock version of Android. Motorola’s tight focus has wavered a bit — there are more Moto models now than ever — but the brand can still put out an excellent cheap phone.
The problem is, you could do so much better if you’d be willing to spend just a little more cash. ZTE’s Axon 7 and the OnePlus 3 can be had for as little as $399, and they offer full-on flagship performance in impeccably built bodies. None of these options offer the same level of hardened security as the DTEK50, but if you’re dead-set on a BlackBerry, you could find a Priv online for around $300. It might be a little older, but the Snapdragon 808 chip inside it is still no slouch, and you’ll get a great physical keyboard, to boot.
It’s been more than a week, and it’s still hard to judge the DTEK50. As a ploy to appeal to those crucial business customers, it’s brilliant. For them, the DTEK50 is a solid, not-very-expensive option with the security chops to put IT paranoiacs at ease. As a phone for regular people, though, the DTEK50 is a much a tougher sell. Make no mistake: The DTEK50 is a perfectly good handset, and I’ll always appreciate BlackBerry for trying to keep security in the front of people’s minds. Still, it takes more than that to make a smartphone great, and BlackBerry’s approach won’t be for everyone. Unless you’re a BlackBerry loyalist or you take your security very, very seriously, you’re better off setting your sights elsewhere.
Even if Kim K ends up ditching BlackBerry, she could still replicate part of the BB experience with an Android phone. The Canadian phonemaker has released its Hub+ suite of applications on Google Play for devices running Android Marshmallow. BB’s Hub shows all your mail and social media notifications in one interface, while the suite as a whole comes with the Calendar app and a password manager. As the company wrote in its announcement post, we once described Hub as the “closest [thing] to [a] universal inbox.” The Hub+ used to be exclusive to BlackBerry 10 and to BB’s Android phone the Priv, but the company’s sluggish sales hinder the software from reaching as many users as possible.
By releasing the suite for all Android Marshmallow devices, it now has more potential users. However, its success depends on how many people deem it worthy of a monthly subscription. It’s only free for the first 30 days, after which you’ll either have to pay 99 cents per month or agree to continue using the suite with ads. The subscription-based version will also give you access to the company’s Contacts, Tasks, Device Search, Notes and Launcher apps. If you want BB’s virtual keyboard, though, you’re out of luck.
Take note that some Marshmallow phones might not be able to run the suite yet. However, the company is adding more and more models to its compatibility list everyday, so you can try again. That is, unless you have a tablet — Hub+ will only work on phones. BlackBerry, by the way, has big plans for the suite and aims to make it available for Android Lollipop and iOS devices in the future.
BlackBerry pivots to software with Hub+ Android app https://t.co/Rxv2kZ4WWF (Photo: Google Play) pic.twitter.com/F67gyRXSTV
— USA TODAY Tech (@usatodaytech) August 4, 2016
Source: BlackBerry, Google Play (1), (2)
BlackBerry pulled back the curtain on its new DTEK50 smartphone a few days ago, and soon after gave hungry journalists units to play with. I’m still working on my full review of BlackBerry’s $299 Hail Mary pass, but since I spent a day playing with it, here’s a peek into an evening of nutso, BlackBerry-centric thinking. Long story short, it’s all at once a perfectly adequate phone with serious security chops, a shrewd business move and a lesson in lousy marketing.
1:00PM: After a handy Q&A session, I’m given a DTEK50 of my phone to play with. First impressions: Yep, this feels like an Alcatel phone. In case you missed it the other day, the DTEK50 is based on the TCL reference design that ultimately gave us Alcatel’s (still-unreleased) Idol 4. Both share a 5.2-inch, 1080p screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chipset, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel main camera, a 2,600mAh battery and even a convenience key on the phone’s right side to which you can assign shortcuts. (Alcatel called it a “Boom” key, but BlackBerry’s naming choice was the right one.) If you’re like me, though, you’d keep trying to wake up the phone using that button, which doesn’t work unless you specifically set it to.
Oh, and there’s more. There’s no fingerprint sensor, and it only has 16GB of internal storage. (You can at least you can flesh it out with a microSD card.) The DTEK50 is startlingly light too, lacking the reassuring density of the high-end BlackBerry Priv.
I’m torn. It’s a BlackBerry in name and in functionality, but this is the first time I can remember the company leaving hardware design almost entirely up to someone else. Even the low-cost Leap we first met last year felt more substantial. There was a certain level of aesthetic pride that went into BlackBerrys, but the company’s shift in strategy has given us a phone that doesn’t feel special in the way the company’s older phones did.
2:30PM: Ran down to St. Marks to get some footage of the DTEK50 for our hands-on video. Setting up the phone was business as usual, but the phone got noticeably warm for reasons that weren’t readily apparent. At the same time, battery drain kicked into high gear for a spell, even though few apps were running at the time. Weird. My hopes for this phone start to sink a bit.
4:30PM: Hustled back to the office to give the DTEK50 a much-needed charge. Thankfully, Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 2.0 tech got the phone back on its feet within minutes and I let it regain about a half charge. I fiddled with it more in the meantime; it’s a pretty smooth little machine, and the DTEK50 seemed like a decent, slightly underpowered workhorse. It would’ve been nice to see BlackBerry choose a reference design with a beefier chipset like a Snapdragon 652, but the company wanted to keep costs down. I haven’t yet gotten a great feel for the camera but early test shots seemed in line with other devices that cost the same, and the screen’s pretty decent, to boot. Meanwhile, my boss Dana says the DTEK50’s textured back reminds her of a cat’s scratching post.
6:30PM: My latest meeting ends and I’m back at the office contemplating the DTEK50 again. BlackBerry insists that the DTEK isn’t a rebranded device — it’s a standalone smartphone with security as its biggest selling point. From security keys baked into the processor during manufacturing to the full disk encryption that’s enabled by default, It’s clear that BlackBerry’s security know-how is one of its most powerful assets.
You won’t notice much of that in practice, though. The phone’s namesake DTEK app gives you a quick look at how secure your device is and how you can lock it up even further, but that’s really all the insight you’ll get. On the plus side, though, DTEK also gives you the option to manages your apps’ permissions from inside it, which is a nice touch made possible by Android Marshmallow.
If you’ve used a Priv before, you’ll feel immediately at home with the DTEK50’s software features. As usual, you can manage your messages from the BlackBerry Hub and swipe up on app icons to see their widgets. The DTEK50 is another mostly-stock-Android affair and I’m warming up to it more because of it. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the company’s secure software approach hasn’t impeded performance; it’s as fast as the new Moto G4, but I wonder if there’s anything here regular consumers would respond to.
8:30PM: After a beer — fine, a few beers — the DTEK50 makes perfect sense. As a business move, it’s a great idea: BlackBerry gets a new device on the market without spending loads of money on product development. It’s also an appropriate follow-up from the Priv, if you think about it. BlackBerry’s first Android phone dealt with some serious scrutiny from critics and security buffs alike, and for the most part the company is pleased with how it all turned out. Now that it had a better sense of how responded to an Android-powered BlackBerry, the company was free to take that formula and apply it to a device that meant to be sold in bulk — to businesses, say, or governments. The DTEK50 is, as company spokespeople called it, a “fleet” device. If the DTEK50 finds a foothold with regular people, great! If not, so be it. As long as those corporations snap them up.
11:00PM: It’s late, I’m tired and the DTEK50 is still hanging on — 15 percent battery to go. And seriously, this thing is actually called the DTEK50? BlackBerry says it’s meant partially to evoke the numbers used by BB10 devices — the company topped out with the Z30 before switching back to proper names, so “50” was the next logical step. Still, it’s straight-up gibberish without a nuanced understanding of BlackBerry’s recent history.
I’m growing fonder of this thing, though, partially because it’s a solid little phone, but also because it’s a symbol of John Chen’s shrewdness. He’s said countless times before that BlackBerry will bail out of the hardware business if it’s not profitable, but dangit, the company just keeps trying anyway.
Apple has brought on the former head of BlackBerry’s automotive software division to lead its own self-driving car tech projects.
The latest addition to the Apple team previously founded and acted as chief executive officer of QNX, the operating system developer acquired by BlackBerry back in 2010. Dan Dodge joined Apple earlier this year to assist a team headed by Bob Mansfield. As part of Project Titan, Apple’s automobile initiative, Dodge is helping to research development of a new automated driving system in tandem with storied plans for Apple to create its own vehicle. This marks a change in direction from Apple’s previous plans for simply creating its own automobile.
In addition to Dodge, Apple has employed hundreds of additional employees who have been tasked with designing cars for a projected release date of 2020. While this date has changed several times over with the addition and departure of team members and switches in direction.
BlackBerry’s back! Again! And this time it’s rocking some hardened Alcatel hardware with an awful name. Oh, BlackBerry. If you’re one of the few remaining hardware keyboard enthusiasts hoping for the Canadian phone-maker’s trademark QWERTY, look away now as you’re going to be disappointed.
What the DTEK50 (codenamed Neon) does offer is a rather middle-of-the-road spec list that includes a Snapdragon 617 Octa-Core processor, 3GB RAM and a 13-megapixel camera. Internal storage is limited to a paltry 16GB, but it does support microSD cards up to 2TB.
BlackBerry’s leaning heavily on security features to sell this phone; primarily that means a hardened kernel, a hardware “Root of Trust,” full disk encryption, a more secure bootloader and a bunch of other features designed to keep you feeling safe.
The end-to-end encryption provided by that Root of Trust ensures only authenticated devices can connect to an organization’s network, which should help it appeal to its intended business audience.
Unsurprisingly, the phone comes with BlackBerry’s own DTEK app that gives you a quick security overview and detailed feedback about which apps are accessing your details and when, is still present.
It’s available to pre-order now for $299, but before you whip out your card, you might want to just consider ordering the Alcatel Idol 4s. Why? Because it’s a slightly upgraded version of the same phone that comes with a VR headset and costs $350.
BlackBerry’s online store says the DTEK50 is due to start shipping the week of August 8.
Source: Inside BlackBerry
When Propel releases its official Star Wars drones this fall, fans could challenge fellow fans to a space battle in their own backyard. The RC toy company has launched small replica quadcopters of the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing, a TIE fighter and a speeder bike. According to Wired, their propellers are clear and are attached to their underside to be as inconspicuous and true to the movies as possible.
We’ve got a feeling quite a few collectors would simply keep them in display cases. But if you want to get one to actually play with, you’ll find that they can reach speeds up to 40mph and can do 360-degree aerial stunts at the push of a button. They also have a battle feature, which you can use to play a game of mid-air laser tag with up to 24 friends. Wired says the Millennium Falcon is the fastest of the bunch, though, and can outfly them all with a max speed of 50mph.
The bad news? They won’t be available in the US and Canada when they launch this fall — you’ll have to wait for Propel to bring them over. The company is taking reservations for every model right now with no need for a downpayment. You simply have to register and save between $200 to $300 for each drone, so you can grab one as soon as they come out.
BlackBerry is embracing change in a big way, finally moving forward from its BlackBerry Classic smartphone. The writing’s been on the wall for quite some time, but as of today the company has made very clear its intention to strike the phone from its portfolio and wind down operations for the “workhorse device going forward.
According to BlackBerry, the Classic has “long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone,” noting that innovation and change is important if we’re to see new and better experiences in the future. BlackBerry itself isn’t the only entity around here that’s chosen to forge a new path.
Just last week, news came out that the U.S. Senate is to trade in BlackBerry devices for iOS and Android phones thanks to a supposed memo where BlackBerry had let slip that all of its OS 10 devices were in fact discontinued.
The company will continue to support its BlackBerry 10 devices via software updates, however. In fact, version 10.3.3 is scheduled for release next month and there’s another one coming next year. It’s an interesting time for BlackBerry fans, especially those who aren’t all about change.
BlackBerry has announced that it will no longer manufacture the BlackBerry Classic, meaning that the touchscreen smartphone will no longer be available once remaining stock is depleted through official sales channels.
For many years, Classic (and its BBOS predecessors) has been in our portfolio. It has been an incredible workhorse device for customers, exceeding all expectations. But, the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market. We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better – entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones.
BlackBerry Classic, equipped with a physical QWERTY keyboard, was unveiled in December 2014 with a design similar to the once-popular BlackBerry Bold smartphone series released between May 2008 and November 2011. BlackBerry’s dominance has shrunk considerably since then, however, with iOS and Android smartphones now combining for some 98 percent of worldwide market share.
BlackBerry said it will be updating its smartphone lineup with “state of the art devices,” presumably with an Android focus like the BlackBerry Priv. The company will continue to support BlackBerry 10 with software updates, including version 10.3.3 due next month and a second update to follow next year. The BlackBerry 10-powered BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Leap remain available for sale.
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The US Senate’s Sergeant at Arms (SAA) announced earlier this week that staffers would no longer be able to request new BlackBerry OS 10 devices for official work. That includes the Q10, Z10, Z30, Passport and Classic. In their place, the SAA is offering use of the Samsung Galaxy S6 on Android or the 16GB iPhone SE.
Existing BlackBerry users won’t be left high and dry, should they decline to transition to another OS. BlackBerry support will continue for the foreseeable future and replacement devices will be available for however the SAA’s current stock of 610 mobile devices last.
This is a significant moment in BlackBerry’s history. I mean, the company used to utterly dominate the mobile device market thanks to its focus on security, email (remember, this was before messaging and social media took off) and a physical keyboard (again, this was the era before Swiftkey).
iOS and Android did manage to catch up to the BlackBerry OS within a matter of years, resulting in the company’s precipitous decline and subsequent flirtations with bankruptcy.
But the wheels of government turn slowly — especially when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. Even after the general public — and the President himself — abandoned BBOS for competing systems, BlackBerry handsets persisted on Capitol Hill for more than a decade. But not anymore.
Most BBM users finally have access to the app’s video calling capability. BlackBerry has released the feature for Android and iOS in Asia-Pacific, which is apparently home to its biggest userbase. The company said it made cross-platform video calls available in the US and Canada first, because it wanted to be able to fix bugs before it reaches more people. Since video calling is now stable, the phonemaker can roll it out to the rest of world.
While BBM isn’t as popular as its newer, shinier rivals like Messenger or WhatsApp anymore, BlackBerry is still developing new features for it. In fact, this release is but a small part of a bigger rollout. Later this summer, the company will launch the capability to register for an account using a phone number, among other things. Android users will be able to share larger videos, as well, while those on iOS will be able to mute group notifications.