8-14-13 4:39 PM EDT | Email Article
 

By Karen Friar

 

Apple's fortunes are outstripping BlackBerry's right now. The iPhone maker's back on the up, as its shares just crossed the $500 mark for the first time since January, propelled by a tweet from activist shareholder Carl Icahn. Its Canadian "smartphone" rival, by contrast, has just declared it's looking for a lifeline -- that is, evaluating its "strategic options" -- that could include agreeing to a sale.

 

But when it comes to products, Apple (AAPL) doesn't necessarily come off best. Despite not taking off with the masses, BlackBerry's (RIMM) flagship Z10 smartphone -- a touchscreen device aimed directly at taking on Apple's lineup -- has several very cool features that has won over a hardcore band of fans. Here's a rundown of where the BlackBerry handset trumps the iPhone.

 

-- Text by Karen Friar

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Virtual keyboard

 

So what's to like? First, the Z10 learns from your typing. If you tend to hit "d" when you want "s," it remembers this: In fact, there's a hidden, second-layer keyboard under the one you see, remapped to your typical patterns. You'll never mistype "Bernanke" again.

 

Other cool things this software can do: It suggests the next word you want and lets you "flick" these from the keyboard into your typing. And, again, it can learn from your history. So if a Trekkie types "Live," it'll automatically suggest "long" "and" "prosper" in succession.

 

People just love this virtual keyboard -- including AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg.

 

"For a one-finger typist like me, it was faster and more accurate than either of the native keyboards on the iPhone or Android (GOOG)," Mossberg says.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Defense Department seal of approval

 

BlackBerry rules the roost when it comes to the U.S. military. This week, the company revealed the Pentagon has given the green light for Z10 and Q10 handsets to have Authority to Operate (ATO) on Department of Defense networks. Granted, they must be running BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 -- but that's another win for the company, as it's the first mobile-device-management software the Army has certified.

 

While this doesn't mean BlackBerry's devices get full access to the Defense Department's networks, it's a big step closer to that, and streets ahead of the iPhone.

 

The numbers tell the story: Of the 600,000 phones allowed on the military's networks, 470,000 are BlackBerrys. There are about 41,000 iPhones, all in testing rather than fully supported.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Screen sharing

 

Yes, the iPhone has FaceTime. But BlackBerry 10 takes video calling up a notch by letting both people on a call look at the same document, image or browser at the same time.

 

But what if you need to enter a password while someone else is looking at your screen? "Turns out this BBM Screen Sharing is SMART," writes Kevin Michaluk, editor in chief of the CrackBerry site. "When you're typing in confidential information, it does not show it to the person on the other end of the line."

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Removable battery

 

The jury's out on battery life, until the whole of the BlackBerry and Apple lineups have gone head-to-head. And with the Z10 versus iPhone 5, the Apple handset seems to have a bit more juice.

 

But the BlackBerry flagship smartphone has one huge advantage when it comes to its battery: You can remove it.

 

Why does that matter? Well, if you're traveling, your phone dies and you can't wait for it to recharge, you can just swap out the battery with a spare and carry on working. Granted, more of a feature for on-the-road power users -- but who hasn't run out of juice at just the wrong moment?

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

TimeShift

 

Here's tricky: Taking a photo with a phone camera at exactly the right moment. The BlackBerry Z10's TimeShift setting aims to get the best from moving subjects: It rapidly captures a series of images when you click, lets you select a face in the picture, and then roll backward and forward to find the best expression.

 

"TimeShift is unique to BlackBerry 10 -- you won't find anything like it built into iOS or Android -- and it works very well," says Al Sacco of CIO.com.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Hub and Flow

 

It may not seem a biggie, but this feature underlines just how much hopping about people normally do between apps on a smartphone -- including Apple's.

 

The Z10 has what BlackBerry calls a Hub, where people can see all their emails, text messages, Facebook alerts and other notifications in one lefthand-side list. They can check and respond to these without coming out of the app they're using -- providing a way of getting about the handset that BlackBerry calls Flow.

 

So if they're keeping track of markets news online, a side-swipe of a finger lets them take a quick glance at Hub messages without missing out on the action.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

BlackBerry Messenger

 

Yes, Apple has iMessage -- but the service is nowhere near as popular as BlackBerry Messenger, which helped the iPhone rival move beyond its business-user heartland into the pockets of teenagers everywhere. The downside: BBM was the peer-to-peer communication service of choice for rioters in London a couple of years ago.

 

Building on that popularity is one of the ways BlackBerry has tried to keep itself relevant: In May, it said it would launch a social network, BBM Channels, on top of the service.

 

Still, BlackBerry's edge in messaging is drawing to a close. In the same May announcement, BlackBerry said it planned to introduce a free BBM app for iPhone in the summer -- though there has been no sign of it yet.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Watch video from the phone on a TV

 

Let's say you caught your favorite activist investor giving off-the-cuff advice, and captured it on high-definition video on your smartphone. With the Z10, you don't have to have people huddle round to share it.

 

Unlike the iPhone, the BlackBerry device has an HDMI-out slot, which means you can connect it to a TV or other display with an HDMI in. Then you can sit back, hit play and watch on the bigger screen.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Nonslip case

 

Where the back of an iPhone is slick, the Z10's is rubberized and textured. That makes it a lot easier to use one-handed -- on a commute, for instance -- and less likely to be dropped, calling for expensive repairs.

 

It could cut also down on typing time, and for some people those extra seconds count.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

Common charger

 

Unlike the iPhone, Z10 can use any standard microUSB charger. That means it's no big deal if you left the BlackBerry one at home -- you can just plug in the cable for your e-reader, or for a friend's phone, or any other lying around.

 

Apple handsets have a proprietary port that fit only chargers designed specifically for the hardware. Yes, you can get a microUSB adapter -- but that's an extra cost, even for those who don't mind the inconvenience.

-Karen Friar; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-14-13 1639ET

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Copyright 2014 MarketWatch
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