Blackberry OS Version Brings BB10 back to Awesome Status

As I posted a few months ago, I was not happy with the direction Blackberry was headed with their Blackberry 10 operating system as of version 10.3. Apart from the fact it was buggy as hell, a first in my personal experience with Blackberry, it also had many UI changes that made the end user experience just plain bad. I dealt with it by rolling back my Q10 to version 10.2 and simply not using my Z10, which was a shame, because the Z10 made a nice “mini-tablet”.

When my carrier finally rolled out the update near the end of July 2015, I updated my Z10 and had a first hand look at what was different. By this point I had been using an almost stock version of Android 4.4.4 exclusively for a few months.

I liked the Android 4.4.4 user experience on my inexpensive 2014 Motorola Moto-E for the most part, but I did find it to be buggy, with program crashes, freezes, typing issues, stuttering scrolling, all manner of inexplicable weirdness I never experienced on my Blackberries. BBM, Skype, and occasionally Steam were the only social apps that I used on the Moto-E and I didn’t have any other background apps running after I removed the OneDrive app, so there was always around 300-450MB of RAM available and not much going on other than Google Play updates. I know the Moto-E is a much lesser device, hardware wise, than both my Blackberry Q10 and Z10 (especially the camera… omg, the camera on the Moto-E is abysmal…), but I expected a little more smoothness and reliability from it, given how little I actually did with it (compared to folks who run loads of social apps, games, etc). I didn’t even have a game on the Moto-E at all. Combine that stuff with my distrust and dislike of Google (not that I entered any personal data into the account I made to use the Google Play Store), I had ample incentive to give my Blackberry Z10 a whirl again.

The release of Blackberry 10 OS solves every grievance I had with the OS. It also works just fine with the few Android apps that I use (Netflix, WordPress, and ES File Explorer). There are some third party Blackberry 10 apps that are very good (Reddit in Motion, Evolution Browser, Rogers My Account) and many of the default Blackberry 10 apps (BBM, Calculator, Pictures, Videos, Music, Docs to Go, File Manager, Remember, Browser Story Maker, Weather, and Password Keeper) are better than the (often ad-laden) similar apps I could find for Android. Finally, the Z10 hardware utterly trounces the 2014 Moto-E in every respect, apart from battery life.

Here is “Where it Wins” for the Blackberry Z10 and the Motorola Moto E (2014).

Blackberry Z10

  • UI navigation and workflow on BB10 is FUCKING AMAZING! Once you learn how it works, you’ll cry when trying to use the cumbersome and disjointed mashup that is Android 4.4.4, because it’s so much easier and smoother and faster to use Blackberry 10. BB10 OS is so great it’s worth swearing about, yet so many people aren’t even willing to try it…
  • The screen quality is much better. Higher resolution and unlike the econo-model Moto-E, one can’t see the digitizer on the Z10 even in full sun.
  • The Z10 is a fast device with strong computing performance in day to day use. Android apps are slower than native Blackberry 10 apps, which makes it so sad that Android is more popular. Performance wise, the QNX and C++ roots of Blackberry 10 really shine given what they can do on older hardware. Granted, all but one BB10 device has 2GB of RAM and all have a dual or quad core processor with acceptable video chipsets.
  • Amazingly, Blackberry finally invested in really good camera software! The lens and sensor were always decent, but the software sucked, hard. Now the software is just as good as what is on my wife’s HTC One Mini.
  • Camera has a flash. And the built in flashlight app, which is a quick swipe down from the top of any screen, can use it!
  • Every app that I personally use, be they Blackberry or Android, work great.
  • Calculator is fantastic, with unit conversion, scientific functions, and tip calculation built into a UI that is simple and uncluttered. The old version was the same, except the buttons were 3D (which looked way nicer if ya ask me!).
  • Settings and quick settings are laid out and function in an intuitive manner. For instance, unlike in the Android 4.4.4 quick settings menu, to toggle a connection such as wifi on BB 10, one need only tap the icon to the left of the word “Wi-Fi”. On Android one must press and hold, which I found would often times result in opening the whole wifi settings menu. Minor thing to be sure, but it’s really the sum of all these better “little things” that makes BB10 OS so amazing to use.
  • Some nice ad-free apps we were given by Blackberry for Christmas over the years (Star Tracker, Need for Speed Undercover, Tetris, Angry Birds Space, Bejeweled 2, Doodle Jump, and Scan to Text Pro, are the ones I use, but they gave away a load of others as well).
  • No Google! (I used 1 Mobile Market to download the Netflix, ES File Explorer, and WordPress apps.)
  • Sharing on device media, be it from the web, camera, or file manager is done through a coherent, fluid, and identical UI. I can’t stress enough how great the workflow is on Blackberry 10.

Motorola Moto E (2014)

  • Battery life is considerably better, without having to do anything special.
  • Rounded back and sides and smaller size makes it feel great in the hand and not so bad in the pocket.
  • Call blocking actually functions.
  • Icons can be customized.

Well, that’s it for my rambling post about Blackberry 10 that I highly doubt anyone will ever read and that even fewer people will care about. 😉 It’s such a shame that people aren’t willing to give Blackberry 10 devices an honest try, because it is far and away a superior mobile operating system than Android. However, it is also extremely disappointing that “Blackberry” basically threw their native app developers under the bus in favor of using Android apps in the Android runtime, because Cascades based Blackberry apps have a coherent, fast/smooth, yet very flexible user experience – more so than what one finds in Android. From what I have read, WebOS and iOS also offered/offer such an integrated, coherent experience, which to me seems like a major selling point, but with all the folks out there choosing Android, I guess it’s not. “Live a mess, life a mess”, I always say!

PS. If you feel that I missed a lot of “Wins” for Android and that I am therefore being disingenuous, keep in mind that I really don’t partake in the vast majority of the stuff that other people tend to do with their smartphones. So, if I didn’t write about it, it’s because I don’t use it and thus, I don’t care about it. The entire range of Google anything would be a good example – do not want, do not care.