BlackBerry/TCL Hits One Out Of The Park?
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
2017-10-09 13:10 by Karl Denninger
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BlackBerry/TCL Hits One Out Of The Park?
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Maybe.

The BlackBerry Motion is a new handset announced over the weekend.  Many will point to it's decidedly-midrange CPU, the Qualcomm 625, as a reason to dismiss it.

Don't be so fast.

Just like your desktop PC RAM is more important than raw CPU speed, and this phone has 4Gb of RAM in it.  It will likely perform better than the KeyONE, which has 3Gb.  When I reviewed the KeyONE I was unable to get it to misbehave in any way that indicated it was CPU-limited at all.  Sure, in the "synthetic" benchmarks it didn't win any awards, but in terms of actual use it was perfectly fine -- and quick.  The only indication of its limitations was an occasional second or so pause in opening a new app, which is a function of available RAM (and needing to evict an idle app to make room for the new one); not CPU exhaustion.  The 4Gb spec-bump on the Motion will take care of that.

Unlike the $800, $900, even $1,000 "flagship" bragfest phones that so many makers are announcing and shipping (a device that, in my opinion, is almost as bad as a tattoo on your face in being a "job stopper" should I see one in your pocket or hand during an interview) the Motion appears to be tagged to have a price right around US $450 unlocked and carrier-agnostic.

It also has a monster 4,000mah battery and is IP67 (1 meter for 30 minutes) dust and water sealed, which means the end of killing your phone by doing common things like attempting to use it when it's raining or, shockingly common, dropping it in the toilet by accident.

The camera is the same as the KeyONE's, which I reviewed and found extremely competent and superior to both that on the Priv and the DTEK60, with its primary advantage being much-larger pixels and thus far better low-light shooting.  It was able to shoot usable pictures in light that was too low to see well with the naked eye -- pretty darn good.

The physical design has a context-sensitive convenience key (nice; different actions can be programmed for home .vs. work, etc.) and a front-side "hard" home key (which some will scoff at -- right up until they realize that not only is that the fingerprint sensor, it also is at least a limited scrollbar.  That ought to reduce finger smudges on the screen, one of the major complaints of all modern slab phones.

The combination of the monster battery and the power-sipping CPU ought to return 2-day battery lives for virtually everyone, and be for all intents and purposes impossible to kill in a day.  This along with QC3.0 (which puts power IN at a ferocious rate; in excess of 3,000 mah) in turn makes reasonable "ad-hoc" charging, where you simply plug in for 30 minutes or so whenever convenient on a given day.  That in turn makes the "night charge" unnecessary and results in extremely low cycle expenditure per-day for the battery, with the expected result being a four year service life before the battery requires replacement -- in other words, no more planned obsolescence.

Speaking of battery replacements I just had mine replaced in my DTEK60 under warranty as it was clearly out of spec and the one year period was coming up.  BlackBerry's service department issued me an RMA and turned it around in two days, which is pretty darned impressive.  They didn't ship me a refurb; I got my actual phone back (same IMEI and WiFi MAC addresses, etc) making that performance even more impressive.  Oh, and they paid for the shipping both ways too (issuing me a pre-paid label for FedEx on the inbound side), so my out-of-pocket was zero.

Finally, the software.  You can poo-poo that all you want but for anyone who gives a damn about security you ought not to.  First and foremost is the hardening of the kernel and other operating system components which materially reduces the risk of your phone being hacked.

But equally important, if not more-so, is the BlackBerry Hub Suite.  It is the only Android software package that properly handles Exchange-linked accounts in their entirety, including Contacts, Calendars, Notes and Email along with S/MIME secure email.  This also inherently involves device administrator remote access by the company so they can force a wipe of a lost or stolen device and if the user attempts to turn it off the phone wipes all the accounts linked to it so corporate email, contacts and calendars remain under the ultimate control of the company.

Note that this requires no subscription to any sort of "mobile device management" product at all; it's inherent in the Exchange Active Sync protocol.

While encrypted email is important for some people signed emails are important for far more; virtually anyone who conducts business wants some means of indicating acceptance to some agreement or otherwise that is tamper-resistant and can be traced to being unaltered.  Having the corporate IT department able to wipe lost devices and having the device software itself wipe the corporate accounts if a user tries to remove the "remote administration" capability is something all businesses must insist on for even rudimentary data security.

Never mind that any business that "trusts" it's contacts, calendars and emails to Google (or Apple for that matter) has rocks in their head and ought to have its IT department committed as they all mentally ill, and if you're in a regulated industry you're probably breaking the law too.

It's true that you can buy the Hub+ suite as a subscription on any Android device today.  But that's something you then have to buy and manage on a monthly basis, while with the BlackBerry Android devices it's built in and costs nothing extra.

In short unless you're a phone-gamer if your flavor of handset is Android this looks awfully compelling in terms of both features and price-point for what you get, and the security features are a big deal.  For myself my only question is whether I'm willing to buy a new handset with a (now-as-new) DTEK-60, when the real advantage, if any, is the 2-day battery life.

I've yet to decide and BlackBerry Mobile has yet to announce a US release date, but I'll be watching.  Hopefully BlackBerry Mobile/TCL won't sit on this device for the US market; that would be a real shame.

In terms of corporate handsets, however, or at least "approved" ones for BYOD this looks like a screaming winner that sacrifices basically nothing and comes with massive advantages at a very reasonable price.

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User Info BlackBerry/TCL Hits One Out Of The Park? in forum [Market-Ticker]
Nickdanger
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How long is a charge supposed to last on the DTEK60? Mine cannot go a full day without being charged, and my usage is not heavy. It seems to have decreased since I originally got the phone.

Sizewise, how does the new Motion compare with the DTEK60?

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Tickerguy
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Your battery may be out-of-spec. One of the problems with running full 100% cycles is that they're, well, full cycles. If you need TWO of them then you're going to kill the battery in a year (design is 500 cycles guys and dolls!) so if you're in that situation then charge to ~80-85% TWICE which puts about 0.6 cycle loads into the battery. That's a nearly 200% improvement in service life.

You're welcome. :-)

Now go file an RMA since none of them are more than a year old right now. Get "Accurate Battery" to check it if you wish, but I bet you're under 2,000mah capacity (that's a 30% loss and you definitely WILL notice that! That app isn't completely accurate but its tolerance (~20% or so) is close enough for government work... you will have to convince BlackBerry it's actually draining faster than it should, but if you're not yanking their chain they will change it out for you.)

The other thing is that because the DTEK60 is a high-spec CPU IF you get app(s) that spinlock on the CPU they'll utterly TRASH the power budget. There are a LOT of poorly-behaving apps out there that do that too... that's not the phone's fault.

The Motion is almost-identical in size to the KeyONE; overlaid they look to be the same physical size device. The KeyONE is very close in size to the DTEK60; slightly thicker but about the same size WxH.

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Nickdanger
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Thanks Karl! I will definitely contact them. I know that Google Maps and Waze will make the battery discharge as I watch, but I don't knowingly keep anything open that will tank the battery. I have one game in particular that will do it, so I know to close it when not in use. No FB or anything like that either.

As of now (12:45 where I am) my battery is down to 63% and I have only used it to make 2 calls and send 3 texts.

I sure wish the phones these days were smaller. I'm getting tired of them not fitting into my pocket (ladies jeans suck).

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Tickerguy
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Yeah, that sounds like a problem. Put GSAM (the app) on there and give it access to all the battery data first however. If you find something killing the battery that's the problem....

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Nickdanger
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I just installed GSAM and there doesn't appear to be anything draining the battery. The screen is the main offender, and I turn it off when not using. I think I definitely have a problem. Thanks for your help!

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Tdurden
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I'm getting (or probably already am) jaded regarding all of these new phones in general. I really like my keyONE...I'd like it better if it ran BB10. None of the glass slab phones really do anything for me, especially since they only come in two flavors...IOS and android. We'll probably never see a Linux phone that isn't anything more than a buggy kludge. So we stuck with our choice one of two operating systems made by corporations ran by people who have a deep seated hatred of people like the ones who frequent our host's forum.

Okay...rant over. I need more coffee.

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"I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next 10 generations that some favors come with too high of a price." -Vir Cotto Babylon 5
Ckaminski
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If it wasn't for the stupid FCC (sarcasm), I could have a true open source phone and we'd be able to load whatever we wanted on them. :-/

I too like BB10, and feel pretty upset over BBRY abandoning us. I understand business realities, so though I'm pissed, I get it.

> We'll probably never see a Linux phone that isn't anything more than a buggy kludge.

No, Linux is bad at hard-realtime stuff. And the dependence on X is a big issue as well. With Wayland taking over on the desktop, you may see it in 5-10 years. It's been done, but it's not simple. And that's mostly the apps fault, not the OS. Windows suffered the same fate - desktop apps in tablet mode, etc. Their vision of OneOsToRuleThemAll didn't really materialize, because your apps need different UIs.

No one in the Linux realm is working to put LibreOffice in a tablet or phone form factor like Microsoft is for Office.

Canonical may try again in 5 years. Who knows. That's an eternity in computer time.
Wa9jml
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I bought a Blackberry Classic at the end of their production run. I hate the touch screen. Even when I lock the keypad and supposedly the screen, if the pen in my pocket happens to move across the screen, it makes the phone light up. There are also some idiosyncrasies with the calendar that are annoying. It does have a better browser, but I don't use the phone for that much. I just want something that makes and receives calls and texts, with a decent keyboard. The only reason I have not reactivated my old 9650 is that the Classic might be a bit better in the north woods than the older phone. I won't have a chance to check that out for some time.

I bought a new and larger battery for the 9650, and keep it charged, just in case.
Nickdanger
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I went through the process with BB to determine if my battery is discharging more rapidly than it should. I got an email this morning that they think my battery life is fine, and are closing the case. **** them with a rusty chain saw. As much as I like BB in general, this will probably be the last phone I purchase that is not supported by the carrier. Too much hassle. As much as I love the Hub, I will have to learn to live without it on my next phone, I guess.

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Tickerguy
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Now that's ****.

What's Accurate Battery say the capacity is? It's off by a fair bit (the kernel monitoring is nowhere near 100% accurate, then you have integration error since it's based on samples rather than all-the-time monitoring), but if you really have a defective battery it'll flag it.

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Nickdanger
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At this time, it shows the battery to be at 72%. This is after taking it off the charger around 6:00 with medium usage. Yes, it sucks! At some point, I will get sick of having to constantly hook it up to the charger and just go to AT&T and buy a new phone. I'm not in the mood to pay $500+ every year for a phone.

My Z10 (which I loved) had battery problems that were not resolved with a new battery, so there was some internal problem. I did all the recommended resets with no avail, and finally gave up. At this rate, the BB products are too expensive for me to own. My old Samsung S3 (which I use for some wifi stuff around the house) is still going strong on the original battery.

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Tickerguy
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Quote:
At this time, it shows the battery to be at 72%. This is after taking it off the charger around 6:00 with medium usage. Yes, it sucks! At some point, I will get sick of having to constantly hook it up to the charger and just go to AT&T and buy a new phone. I'm not in the mood to pay $500+ every year for a phone.

No, that's not the question.

Load the AccurateBattery app. Wait until you have the time to charge it at least 5% from wherever it is. Do so. In the "charging" tab of the app it will then give you an estimated capacity of the battery. It integrates the charge rate over time and the delta the phone reports. Additional charges will update the stats over time.

It's about 20% off most of the time (usually low) because of measurement uncertainty and wobbles around a lot from one charge to another, but it's close enough for government work. If it says you have a 2,000mah battery, for example (the actual installed capacity is 3,000mah), then the battery is definitely ****ed. If it says the capacity is ~2500mah+ then the battery ITSELF is fine; the problem lies elsewhere, likely with an app. In addition the discharge screen will tell you how much time the phone is spending in deep sleep when the screen is off (it should be nearly ALL the time.) If it's not then the trick is figuring out what is holding the wakelock (or worse, spinning on the CPU which will totally screw you.)

Note that one thing that will definitely screw your battery life with ANY phone is frequent network reselects. Some carriers (AT&T notably) have had relatively long periods of time in certain areas where they **** up their provisioning and cause this to happen to damn near everyone with one of their phones in that immediate vicinity. It's a BITCH to isolate if that's the cause, but one way to know is to put the phone in airplane mode and see if it stops. Of course now that you know what the hell do you do about it, since a phone without a turned-on radio is pretty worthless.....
Inline
Inline

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Nickdanger
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My Accurate Battery app doesn't seem to show this info, but perhaps the app I downloaded the other day isn't the correct one. (Accurate Battery Percentage Show by Puma Mobile) I'm obviously not tech savvy on this stuff, so it's particularly irritating because I don't know how to troubleshoot it.

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Nickdanger
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Aha, I see now after you posted the pics that I indeed do have the incorrect app installed. I'll do that. Thanks, Karl!

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Tickerguy
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I think it's called "Accubattery" in the Play Store. I also like GSAM which is good for nailing the bad acting apps, but GSAM doesn't have the capacity tracking. It sucks that there doesn't appear to be one app that does both competently, since these apps do take a small amount of power to have loaded and leave running.

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Nickdanger
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Thanks Karl. I obviously did have the incorrect app installed. I just installed Accubattery and had installed GSAM the other day. It appears that the app needs some time to develop the profile, so I will keep an eye on it for a couple of days to see what it shows.

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Tickerguy
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It requires a couple of minutes on first use to figure out the specifics of your phone (which polarity shows up in the CPU monitor for charging, for example) and such, but it will give you a rough capacity guess after the first 5% or better charge once it has initialized.

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Winding it down.
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