The new smart phone's security features could be what keeps BlackBerrys in the hands of government employees.
After BlackBerry announced it would allow organizations using BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 to create Secure Work Spaces on Android and iOS devices, people have been speculating what this might mean for BlackBerry’s hold on the government smart-phone market. Even though many agencies, such as the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, are implementing pilot programs for BlackBerry, many are convinced that there is nothing BlackBerry can do to reverse the trend of more users adopting other devices for government use.
BlackBerry’s answer is the Z10. This newest offering from BlackBerry shows exactly what the new BlackBerry 10 operating system can do. The device measures 5.12 inches by 2.58 inches by 0.35 inches and weighs under 5 ounces, making it one of the lightest and smallest BlackBerry devices.
The 4.2-inch touch display is roomy enough and responsive to swipe commands. The display is bright; everything displays clearly from practically any angle, and the only time it wasn’t bright enough to see was in direct sunlight. The two dedicated hardware buttons were for volume and a lock button that also functioned as the power switch. In addition to the micro-USD port for computer interface, the Z10 has a micro HDMI port to display onto a monitor or projector, one of the few smart phones with this feature.
The 1.5 GHz dual core processor, 2G RAM and 16G flash memory did a good job keeping things moving without freezing up or hanging. Downloads via the Verizon network went smoothly and at expected transfer rates. BlackBerry 10 allows up to eight apps to run at once, which is a welcome feature in a mobile operating system. Switching between them is just a matter of swiping from the bottom of the screen and clicking on the desired app.
The BlackBerry Hub keeps all of a BlackBerry 10 user’s alerts and messages in one place – to the left of every navigation screen – and is accessed by a swipe up and right from the screen. Actually, when starting the upwards swipe, the user can see a count of the types of alerts received. The Hub lists e-mail, messaging and other alerts, and one touch lets users compose new messages from there.
One feature of likely interest to government users — and network administrators— is BlackBerry Balance. When connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), a user can switch between work and personal apps and data with a single downward swipe and a touch. It does a good job of keeping apps and data separate, and programs such as BlackBerry World will only show apps that administrators have approved. This secure container function would be a good addition to any agency’s mobile management solution, but it only works with BES. Many dedicated BlackBerry users lament this necessity, but since BES is a relatively inexpensive management platform now — which can accommodate Android and iOS devices — it seems worthy of admins’ consideration.
Security has always been a top priority for BlackBerry, and what the company puts into the Z10 reflects that. The built-in BlackBerry Protect app will help users find their Z10s and protect it if it ends up lost or stolen. This security is simple to set up: create a BlackBerry ID and register the Z10 with it. Then go to the Protect website and log in. The site will identify the particular Z10 registered and display a few options. Selecting View Location shows a map view of the device’s location. If the Z10 is misplaced within a house or office, the Play Sound function, will help owners find the device. If the phone has been stolen, users can lock or even wipe the device. The great part about this feature is it works even without a BES watching over it.
The BlackBerry Z10 retails for around $700 when purchased unactivated. Most carriers, like Verizon, offer it for $200 with a 2-year agreement. This is a good price for a full-function smart phone that is able to have so many apps open at the same time.
The Z10 and its BlackBerry 10 OS have a lot going for it, and existing BlackBerry users will take to it quickly.