Blackberry DTEK50: The Smartphone for a Hostile World

By Rob Enderle August 17, 2016

There are certain things I’ll probably never understand.  One of them is how the entire market moved from phones that were secure and built for business (as in paid the bills) and moved to phones that are unsecure, distracting and wickedly expensive.   Celebrities that have been hacked, politicians, government workers and a lot of CEOs still use Blackberries, but the rest of us typically don’t.   Now their last phone, the Blackberry PRIV (by the way it is a ton of fun to watch someone’s face when you drop the keyboard), was an amazing phone and it brought back the keyboard without compromising the screen size by allowing it to slide from under the screen. 

Unfortunately, the Priv was also pretty pricey, pushing $650, making it hard for firms to budget for it. Plus, so many of us have lost the Blackberry keyboard skills that once defined us and many no longer see the value of a keyboard.  (By the way, I see the value, and am seriously having keyboard withdrawal issues at the moment).

Well, the new Blackberry DTEK50 may be the phone for you, particularly if your organization is still willing to pay for your phone.  It is around half the price of a Blackberry PRIV, loses the keyboard, but has all of the other key security and usability features, including full Android support.  And it has one unique feature that could make it the king of selfies. 

Hardware

As noted, the DTEK50 doesn’t have a keyboard, which not only makes this phone far cheaper but also makes it noticeably smaller and lighter than the PRIV. This is one of the first phones that supports the new SD card capacities of up to 2TB of memory (the PRIV also had this capability but the Samsung S5 does not).   That’s more than I currently have on most of my PCs.  As a side note, with 2TB you likely could download most of your movies onto this thing and carry them with you on trips, assuming the movie service you use allows that (Netflix is rumored to be moving to a download model shortly).  

Screen resolution and size is down from the PRIV and more in line with the Samsung Galaxy 5 at 1080x1920 pixels and 5.2” (the Samsung is 5.1 but the Priv is 5.4).  The phone’s primary camera at 13 megapixels is down from both the PRIV and the Samsung (18 and 16 respectively) but the secondary camera which you’d use for selfies and conferencing is way up at 8 megapixels (both the Priv and the Samsung are the more normal 2) and the DTEK50 has a front flash which is unique (this could be the selfie king camera for now).  

Two other unique aspects of this phone are that it has a dedicated button on the side you can program to launch an app (I use it to launch the camera) and it has an FM radio.  So why an FM radio?  Well if there is a disaster and the cellular network goes down you can pick up events on the radio (assuming transmission towers are still up) and get to safety.   The phone has up to 17 hours of battery life and uses the Qualcomm 8952 64-bit quad core processor (Snapdragon 617).

Software

As you might expect, this phone is focused on communications and security.   At the heart of the communications solution is the BlackBerry Hub, which is very good with Microsoft Exchange and can connect to most email solutions, consumer and corporate, currently in market.  You can color code the accounts and it has a number of ways to rapidly find email but it also aggregates social networks, phone calls and instant messaging.   This can get a tad overwhelming if you are active, but you can get through this using their pinch filter which allows you to get to what you want more quickly.    Notifications show up on the lock screen as well as calendar events.  It is the most comprehensive messaging app I’ve ever used and it is truly addictive. 

The other area where this phone truly shines is in security.   Security is particularly important when it comes to Android phones because they tend to be malware magnets.  The DTEK50 phone is designed from the ground up to be secure.  It has a password keeper for passwords and it has built in encryption to protect your pictures and data.  When booting the phone, you first boot the BlackBerry layer which means that root kits, which have been a plague on Android phones in particular, can be identified and removed.  The problem with root kits is they install below the operating system so, once in, they can’t be reliably detected or removed.  By having an operating layer below the operating system, these kits can be more easily identified and removed because they reside on top of this unique layer. 

The phone has a built in security scanner called DTEK (that’s where the name came from…) which you can run to see if your phone is, or is vulnerable, to being compromised.  It will also tell you if you have an application that is behaving like malware.  

Wrapping Up:  So Who Is This Phone For?

Obviously the target market for the Priv was celebrities, executives and government officials who have the status and budget to get one.  The target market for the DTEK50 is folks who also need security but don’t need the status, don’t want the keyboard, and/or don’t have the budget that high rollers have.  It is also a decent company funded phone and it is less likely to be stolen (because it is pretty worthless without the pin or password).   But there is one other group that might particularly like this Priv, and that is heavy social media users who love taking selfies, as this may be the best selfie phone camera in the market.  

Basically if you live off your phone and the related communication and worry about security, this is likely the best phone on the market for your right now.  That’s Blackberry’s niche; good to still have someone in it.   




Edited by Alicia Young

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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