Nowadays, you no longer need to be locked into one cloud, social media service or ecosystem. Be it Apple (OS X, iOS), Google (Android), Amazon or something else (Windows?). In fact, you should avoid this. And this very fact means the BlackBerry smartphones, in particular the Passport and Classic, are better than any other device (in my opinion) in terms of playing the role of a daily driver. Not just for people who use smartphones primarily as communication and work device (not as distraction machines), but most consumers. The BlackBerry offers the best of all worlds and adds additional killer apps, security and a premium experience.
Sure, I know this is a bold claim. Only a few months ago, I would have disagreed with it. But the writing has been on the wall for a while (hindsight is always 20/20, yadah yadah). And looking back now, I realise that over the past few years, like many, I have significantly diversified my technology use. First instinctively, then purposefully.
If you haven’t, start today. Here is how I did it:
Firstly my software “identities” – I now use Google for Gmail and the Drive, especially on my ChromeStation, but also Microsoft OneDrive for writing and pics, iCloud for bits and bobs like the AppleTV…and other services like Dropbox for various stuff, not to mention work accounts and services that back things up securely. More than that, I am in a position to change all of these to suit whatever my requirements are and whatever services provide, with minimum effort..and on most, if not all platforms.
Secondly, hardware-wise, I am running a “multicultural” ecosystem for my professional, personal (and the family’s) needs. Today, I use an awesome LG ChromeOS workstation as my main home office desktop, a Dell business laptop running Windows 8 as work computer, an iPad Air tablet (mainly for work meetings, photos, radio interviews and tweeting from events I cover), an Amazon Kindle Voyage as reader at home – and a BlackBerry Classic as a smartphone for all of those things and more. We also have a bunch of older MacBooks and MacBook Pros still floating around the house. All or most devices are able to run the staple of solutions I need, apart from the hard-core work software (stuff like Adobe Creative Cloud, WoodWing, etc.):
- Email accounts
- All Social Media (esp. Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp etc etc) accounts
- Evernote (Premium customer, but not 100% happy)
- OneNote and (Microsoft) Office – I am a subscriber
- Photo Editing and Sharing etc.
Here’s the thing: The BlackBerry does the job of juggling these needs better, indeed much better, than any other smartphone system available out there at the time of writing. For me, and possibly for you.
Now, normally, I wouldn’t even consider blogging about this, but given the state of public perception around BlackBerrry, and given the amount of surprise and enthusiasm people around me have voiced when seeing the device and playing with it, let me summarise briefly the ten things that I have discovered for which BlackBerries are better than any iPhone or Android device.
- The keyboard. Look; I am a journalist and writer with decades of experience. I can type on anything, and fast. When I grew up, I wrote on an electric typewriter and then Commodore 64s and IBM PCs with monochrome displays. I have written longform articles and essays on the glass surfaces of various iPads, Samsung Notes, and other devices with my relatively large man-hands. Nothing beats the classic clickety-clack keyboard of the BlackBerry. It is faster and somehow more rewarding to use, just more satisfying than glass surfaces. Try it out and you will see what I mean. I prefer it even to some full-size keyboards.
- The Hub. The way all messaging is integrated into the new BlackBerry operating system (BB10 – see point 6) operating system’s Hub application is incredible. Swipe left and see everything at one glance. Pinch and see all unread messages, emails, posts, across all your mail, social media, and more. No matter what else you are doing or running. Amazing.
- The BB font. Not kidding. It is called Slate, unless I am mistaken, and this font is better and more beautiful than any font I am aware of. (This is even more subjective than the other stuff I am posting here, but) from my perspective, nothing beats this font for legibility, beauty and practicality on electronic displays.
- The build quality. The Classic is pleasantly heavy, solid and well-built. Very much a premium device. Far superior to the Samsungs I have known, and at least as good as the iPhones.
- The tool buttons. As my daily experience has taught me, having a trackpad to select, copy and paste text absolutely rocks. Having a “Play” (and “Assistant”) button is awesome. Having dedicated phone buttons is extremely useful too, especially if you want to have a good hanging up experience (push that button!). As much as I empathise with people who like a clean glass slab with not buttons, I love the buttons the Classic provides, it just makes sense to me.
- The BlackBerry 10 operating system. Less locked-in than the Apple garden, but arguably more secure, with real multi-tasking and no bloatware at all (like most Android phones will be delivered with). Plus the admittedly few but in some instances bloody excellent native BlackBerry stuff no other OS can offer; and yet you can install practically all Android apps too, and they run well – though they load not quite as quickly as on comparable native Android phones.I don’t recommend the BlackBerry Classic for games or movies, though it does both well. It is just not as fast. For everything else, it is absolutely fine.
- The separation but clever integration of “Work” and “Private” spaces. This makes the phone not only better to use for both professional and other stuff. It also adds another layer of security.
- Speaking of which: Security and privacy. Though you can integrate Andoid apps, you don’t need to; and you certainly don’t need to give away all your private data to Google (or another giant like Apple); I know this is in part subjective and a moving feast, but certainly I prefer the solution BlackBerry provides over any other device.
- The Evernote integration into tasks and notes. Wow. This was unexpected. Imagine your Evernote notes working natively and seamlessly with the iOS reminders, or Google Keep, Wunderlist or similar. And yet that is how BB10 handles them! I am an Evernote power user who runs multiple important things on Evernote, and so this has been a revelation.
- Phone calls. Last but not least, even if smartphones usually are not really used that much as phones by many people, including myself. I might not make many calls every day, but when I do, it needs to work well. Thanks to their Paratek antennas and microphones (yes, plural), the call quality on a BlackBerry is excellent – far superior to that of any other device out there, in my experience.
Again: Transitioning all my various email and other accounts on the BlackBerry was easy and quick. Utterly painless. The ability to run the Android apps I need in addition to the superior communication, interaction and security solution BlackBerry and the BB10 operating system provide, makes for a killer solution, all rolled into one very attractive package – with simply the best keyboard available.
If this all sounds too good to be true, rest assured – full disclosure – that I am neither paid by BlackBerry nor anyone else to express this opinion, nor do I have stock in the company or any other conflict of interest. Nor am I religious about technology brands. But I think we all need to be savvy about our use of it.
Anecdotally, I am not the only one who see the advantages: My wife, my boss and a lot of friends have all reacted very positively to the Classic – and indeed several are moving to a BlackBerry in the near future. And just like them, if another company or operating system offers a better solution, I will move on to it. For now, though, it is a BlackBerry. I hope they keep up the good work the company is doing after they took a few bad turns.