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Not as black as it’s painted

If you feel saturated with the Android smartphones flooding the market, or yearn for the old QWERTY keyboard and an efficient email ecosystem, BB is still a viable option

india Updated: Oct 01, 2013 00:56 IST
Gagandeep Singh Sapra

Circa July 2010: A TV ad jingle: “We wear cool suits, we wear shiny shoes, we’re the BlackBerry boys.”

Cut to 2013: Nothing seems to be going right for BlackBerry. The company has put itself up for sale, is laying off 4,500 people, its phones are bombing…
BlackBerry is on the downswing. And an India-born man has offered to put in $4.7 billion and take the company private so that it can be restructured in peace, far away from public eyes. So is this the right time to buy a BB phone?

Blackberry 9720
@ `15,990
The latest launch in India is the Blackberry 9720, which runs on the legacy BB operating system (OS), sports a touch screen apart from the usual QWERTY keyboard, a quick access BBM key, a 5 MP camera, an FM radio and the works. Best of all, it takes a regular full SIM card, and you can replace the battery yourself.

The rubberised texture of its back panel feels good in the hand. Since the 9720 runs on BB OS 7.1, you still require a BlackBerry plan, but this not only gives you push email but also gives you access to the BlackBerry Messenger.

On the downside, the interface leaves a lot to be desired, and the screen is square.

But if you have been a BB boy (or girl) and are looking for a new handset, or if you are just tired of all the touchscreens out there and spend a lot of time fighting the autocorrect, the 9720 is a great phone on a budget.

@ `29,990 (festive season offer) and Z30 (yet to be announced)
At roughly `10,000 off the listed price, the Z10’s festive offer is attractive. The first full touchscreen handset running the latest BB OS 10, the Z10 was received with mixed feelings. BB purists lamented the missing keyboard, while the younger audience cheered the new OS, which can work as an ordinary smartphone without a BlackBerry plan, and the touchscreen.

Some of the most popular games and applications are missing, but the option of enjoying the legendary BlackBerry secure messaging while consuming multimedia on a platform as good as any competing instrument, made the Z10 an attractive proposition. BlackBerry’s new touchscreen keyboard is also brilliant, setting new standards for onscreen keyboards.

Its upcoming sibling, the Z30, announced in the West recently, features a larger screen (5”, against Z10’s 4.2”), a faster processor and the capability to connect an external hard disk or a USB pen drive via an adapter cable.

The Q10 & Q5
@`44,990 & @`24,990
The people who missed the keyboard on BB10 had their prayers answered with the Q10. Excellently built, with a touchscreen as well as the keyboard, the black/white Q10 is a great phone, even if priced a bit awkwardly. The touchscreen is responsive, and at 3.1” is a great size. For watching videos, its square shape may be awkward, but the screen is sharp, bright and vivid.

The Q5 is similar, but is aimed at younger users and has a red body option. Specifications are stepped down – 5 MP camera and 8 GB storage against 8 MP and 16 GB of the Q10, helping the company reduce the price substantially.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)
BBM was supposed to be available for Android and iOS. It was launched but immediately pulled back due to issues. BlackBerry says the issues will be fixed and it will be back soon. BBM is still one of the most secure messenger services, and delivers photos and voice faster than any other messenger. For now, there is no news about its availability for other operating systems.