Since moving to a dumbphone over 100 days ago, there have been few times that I have really missed having access to a smartphone. The Nokia X3-02 has awesome sound quality, holds a great charge, and is so small that you hardly know you have it in your pocket. However, there are some times when having a smartphone is critical to my job and the Nokia has to take a back seat when I am required to remotely reboot a system or solve some problem that falls outside of the boundaries of making a simple phone call or texting.
So, about three weeks ago I restarted my smartphone research. Immediately in my research I was faced with a significant dilemma. On one hand, there’s the iPhone. Being somewhat secure (or at least some secure apps available) and receiving regular updates is highly desirable for anyone that works with technology and security. Even though Apple seems to have stood up to the FBI with regard to unlocking an iPhone this past year, Apple has fallen incredibly short with its newest hardware and software releases. In speaking directly with an Apple rep, it appears that I am not alone in my hardware and software concerns (comment if you want to know more). Compounding Apple’s issues is a closed ecosystem, slow patches, and a high price point. It looks more and more like the Apple I once loved has established its path in releasing sleek devices that are both underpowered and costly.
On the other hand, you have Android which represents a terribly splintered market. Some devices on the cheap side hardly ever see updates. Then you have “middle of the road” devices like the Moto G series, which may actually receive updates, but not necessarily in a timely manner. Then you have higher end devices which will likely cost $600+ which will likely receive updates, but still not in as timely a manner as a security professional would prefer.
The top end of Android devices, like the Pixel, are sure to receive timely updates, but at a price point which rivals the cost of a decent laptop. Personally, I can’t imagine dropping over $600 for a cell phone.
A Windows phone would be pretty inexpensive, would see timely updates, and includes a solid foundation for security (yes, I’m as surprised as you are that I am writing this… but research shows that the current Windows mobile platform is actually pretty good). However, I was not going to go with a phone that has less compatibility. The simple fact is that Windows phones have far fewer apps.
Blackberry… oh, how I long for the platform that brought me my first smartphone. I once had an 8830 “world phone” by Blackberry and loved it. It was so solid. Then I think, “Oh, how RIM betrayed it’s users by using the same key on all consumer devices.” Additionally, Blackberry’s BB10 OS is probably five years behind when it comes to available and compatible apps.
Yet, something striking now stands out from the company that betrayed its consumers. Blackberry is realizing that they can offer multiple things that the splintered Android market cannot. Security, timely updates, and a competitive price point.
With regard to security, I initially worried that the updates wouldn’t come as fast and often as the Google Pixel and other Android flagships, but a little research put my worries to reset. I read over and over that Blackberry’s updates for their Android line of phones (including DTEK50/60, and Priv) often come faster than Google’s own updates for Nexus devices. That is comforting news.
The most informative review I found was from Crackberry.com. See here: http://crackberry.com/blackberry-dtek50-review. That review has great pictures and really cuts to the heart of what Blackberry is trying to achieve with the release of this device.
Two weeks ago, I received a DTEK50 at just $229 (yes, that’s new) from B&H Photo. I also ordered the smart cover. Reviews were hard on the DTEK50 with regard to battery life. I put that concern aside as I really couldn’t find any other viable options (sub $300).
In the last two weeks, I must say that I am quite impressed. Battery life wasn’t nearly as bad as I worried. Especially since I am a light user, I can get over a day out of the device no problem. If you bury your head in your phone for hours on end, you will most likely have different results.
I’ll get to some of my thoughts in a follow up. But for now, just know that I am very pleased with my decision to give Blackberry another shot.ePrepper is going offline this month and will likely be offline before the end of January 2017, unless I can find someone to either take over the site or migrate its content to. Properly maintaining the site has been taking up too much time and cutting into my family. I would like to see the content of ePrepper get absorbed into a larger site. If you run a blog and are interested using content from ePrepper, please email dan [dot] michaels [at] eprepper [dot] net.