The New BlackBerry: Better Than Ever

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The new BlackBerry smartphone looks even better than all of its predecessors — and that’s saying something. The company behind the BlackBerry lineup of phones has always been an innovator, and they’re not the kind of people to just sit back on the laurels, they keep innovating. They keep producing devices that may not look as pretty as some from other manufacturers, but, technically, they tend to beat the socks off of their competition on a regular basis.

History Behind the BlackBerry Smartphone

Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when truly portable laptop (actually suitcase) computers were first introduced, many of us wondered what the utility of them was since there was no way for us to make use of their mobility and be online — we had to have an active network connection. Enter the company behind the BlackBerry smartphone: Research In Motion (RIM) and their RIM mobile network access radio. It looked like a walkie-talkie with a serial cable. This little gem allowed us to untether and truly go mobile with our newfangled gadget known as a mobile or portable computer. Eureka! It was awesome, let me tell you.

One of the First Truly Smartphones Available

Fast forward about 15 years or so, and the company positions itself as one of the first makers of phones that let you do more than make calls and send simple text messages. You could actually do work on your phone for the first time. You could also surf the web. Sure, they were clunky and not very easy to use, but they were like the difference between Captain Kirk’s and Captain Picard’s communicators. In short, they revolutionized the industry.

Enter the New BlackBerry Q20 Smartphone

BlackBerry has, for quite some time, included a full QWERTY keyboard with their phones, but this is the first that feels like a computer keyboard (except in size, of course). Unlike almost all of their competitors, the new BlackBerry keyboard isn’t an onscreen, or soft, keyboard — it’s a full hard keyboard. The Q20 also retains the thumbwheel that lets you comfortably use the phone with only one hand.

According to company sources, the new BlackBerry Q20 will retain some of the features of the Q10 pictured here.According to the company, the new keyboard with sculpted keys and improved frets to give users “the best typing experience ever” for a handheld device. There’s also something the company calls the “BlackBerry Hub” that groups all of your messages in one place: MMS, SMS, email, etc. No more flopping between messaging apps. This messaging hub lets you customize it, so you see what you want to see: Flagged messages only, unread messages only, whatever, using “pinch gestures.”

Another cool feature of the new BlackBerry phone and BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 is the ability to customize your settings menu. I have yet to hear of a phone that lets you do that. What this means is that instead of having to search for things like BlueTooth and Wi-Fi, you can put them on the Settings menu so they’re at your fingertips. Some of the things I’m seeing and hearing about with this OS makes me a little sad that I bought the new Nokia Lumia 720 last week (but I love the Nokia’s camera app!).

More Special Messaging Features

Have you ever sent out a group SMS message and had to go through the trouble of scrolling through your contacts to select the people you want to send the message to, or, even worse, had to blast the message out to five, 10, or more people individually? Forget all that. The Q20 lets you configure messaging groups, so you can just tap the group name, type the message, and be done with it. Configure one group for your family, one for co-workers, and one for your buds. You can also group your contacts into descriptive categories if you want.

Improved Network Capabilities Again

If you peruse the professional IT message boards and sites like I do, one of the main complaints that IT professionals have with mobile devices is there’s no easy way to manage them. BlackBerry has been, and still is very different. They have a specialized management console similar to the one we network guys are used to so we can configure user privileges and access levels. Have the phone log on to the network and identify itself, and the network guys can quickly and easily configure it so you can work most efficiently and access what network resources you need. For those working in the healthcare industry, the OS and network console are HIPAA-approved, so security issues won’t be a concern.

The new BlackBerry Q20 will be available in the second half of 2014, according to the company. Keep your eyes out for it.

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