Everything you wanted to know about (upgrading to) BB10, but were afraid to ask

A few weeks ago I received a Blackberry Q10 that I had won in an EE competition. It was sent directly to me from Blackberry in the UK. Unfortunately it was locked to EE and I am an O2 customer, but with help from Blackberry an unlock code arrived in Email the same day.

The Q10 was sent out with various bits configured for EE, which I queried and was told "once the new SIM works, the device gets the settings from the network", so again all well and good.

Next install Blackberry Link which is the new desktop software from Blackberry, again all well and good, except though it can now sync photos/music/documents/etc with the desktop (a Mac user) it no longer (compared to Blackberry Desktop Software for Mac) syncs Calendars and Contacts. The new BB10 devices (Z10 and Q10) are completely device centric and all email/calendar and contacts synchronisation is done by the mobile device itself.

I plugged in the old Blackberry Bold 9900 (which Blackberry Link recognised as a OS7 device) and it asked if it would like to transfer the databases, to which I confirmed.

All seemed well, except you have to set-up all the old email accounts/etc on the new device before it actually works and it seems not all of them were working (GMail specifically, luckily the set-up of a BB10 device can be done using WiFi so it doesn't need a SIM in the device to actually set it up).

The email accounts were all working, try the transfer again and all went well.
Then (after reducing the SIM from a normal size to a uSIM using a SIM cutting tool) put the old (u)SIM into the Q10 and bang, everything works (well at that point the phone needed unlocking, but that was very simple and just required entering the unlock code - though not in the way Blackberry had stated, go into settings, then security, SIM and then you are asked to unlock).

On the Mac iCloud is the default system for contacts and calendar, so on the Q10 just add a new Email account (i.e. iCloud account). That's where problems started. There is a known problem using iCloud for newer versions of BB10. The Email account is set-up fine as is contact sync, however it fails to set-up the calendar sync (with a credential issue).

It's also possibly to directly add a Caldav account in the advanced Email set-up, again the forums were awash with suggestions but it should be possible to just add caldav.icloud.com as the calendaring service, but again this failed with a credential issue and would not complete.

Search the forums and lo and behold there's a Blackberry knowledge base entry which states "there's a known issue with Apple's caldav services" (Apple uses CALdav for calendar synchronisation, it also used to work on older versions of BB10, the phone upgraded itself to v10.1.0.273 via the WiFi, some earlier version of 10.0 used to work). The forums also stated that after speaking to Blackberry users had been told to report the fault to their carrier who could then escalate to Blackberry, the more users/carriers reporting the fault would increase the escalation.

So decide to phone O2 and report the fault and managed to get through to the Blackberry specialist team, explaining that I had upgraded from a Blackberry Bold 9900 and was now using a Q10 and wasn't able to sync calendars. They explained they would look at the problem and get back to me, which they did. Unfortunately they wouldn't escalate the problem as it was a known issue by Blackberry and thus couldn't escalate. I tried to explain that even Blackberry themselves were telling users to go through their carriers to report the fault, but they were adamant that they wouldn't be able to report the fault as it was already "on the system".

So no calendar synchronisation, but the phone seemed to be working well apart from that, email coming through, twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn all seemed to be doing the right thing.

There are some immediate quirks though: -

  • On the old Blackberry you can delete an Email on the device or delete it on the device and the Email server. this is no longer possible and deleting an email deletes it completely. This isn't disastrous it just means you get a lot of emails on the device, the Email icon turns grey if read, but it's still there. After 90 days it is possible to to set a shorter time) older emails will disappear.
  • The old twitter client used to support multiple accounts, the new one in BB10 only supports a single twitter account, this is a real pain. Direct Messages (DMs) and mentions (@) appear in the hub, which is fine, but the actual twitter client only supports a single twitter account itself. Would be happy if the Hub just supported DMs and mentions from the active twitter account, but the actual twitter client should support multiple accounts and the user can select which twitter account to be active.

So only a single twitter account, no way to delete emails off the device without deleting them on the server, and no calendar synchronisation, but all is work.

Now the fun really starts

On the 30th of May I get an email/text from O2 saying my bill is £470 more than it is usually.

I contacted customer services and ask about the problem and am told that it's data charges, so I tell them my settings (Blackberry Unlimited tariff and APN set to mobile.o2.co.uk) and it's confirmed those are the correct settings, but the customer services agent has started a "Network Investigation" and I wont get anymore data charges.

I am not convinced, but hope that all will be good.

On the Saturday I get another email/text now saying that my bill is £580 over my normal bill.

Unfortunately it wasn't until Sunday that I managed to contact customer services again. This time I'm told that I should move to a normal data tariff and that the old Blackberry Unlimited tariff is very old and not available to new customers and I should move immediately (the tariff has a 750MB data limit, which I've exceeded in the first week). I refrain saying I will wait for the network investigation.

I then decide to do some of my own investigations and find that the new BB10 devices don't work how the old pre-BB10 devices work (the old BES and BIS connections went through a "hardwired" blackberry.net "private" APN that was embedded in the Blackberry software itself). The new devices (at least for a BIS - which is the Blackberry Internet Service) now do use the actual Internet data connection and don't have the cludgery that was the old style BIS connection. The devices have become completely device centric ...

However on some forum it's stated that setting the APN to wap.o2.co.uk works and as it's with the Blackberry Unlimited service, it's free. So I plug that into the Blackberry and lo and behold no more data charges.

I also phoned O2 support to check and they agree that setting will work.

I still have a massive data bill and there is an on-going network investigation.

Twitter to the rescue

I have had a few conversations with @O2 on twitter, who are very responsive to tweets and good for sorting technical and other issues and get into a discussion with the "web team" who DM me and ask for details of the problem, which I duly sent them. It seems they have a massive influence and today (Tuesday 4th of June) I get a call from O2.

Unfortunately I do have to move to a standard new tariff (that only comes with 750MB of data), but they are going to wipe the data charges (eventually £600+ +VAT).

As soon as the tariff is changed (should come into play tomorrow), it looks like I'll have to ask for a PAC code and move to a new network, one that does unlimited data.

I've been a loyal customer with O2 on this number since 2005 (and on another number - moved to GiffGaff a year ago, since 1984). It will be a shame to move, but unlimited Internet is unlimited Internet.

So long and thanks for all the fish as they say.


ARM Mali now has DRM on-chip

ARM the company that designs microprocessors and micro-controllers that are used in high-end smartphones down to dishwashers has announced a new range of graphics co-coprocessor with digital rights management (DRM) built-in.

ARM has been forging relationships with bodies to support its TrustedZone security implementations in its ARM cores, now it is extending this with DRM backed into its video processing hardware (Mali) and it has just announced the Mali-V500 which supports 1080p/60 encoding and can decode up to 120 frames per second with a resolution of 4K. This should make the chips appealing to video companies like Netflix who want modern hardware, but also want to appease Hollywood with native DRM support.

ARM have also released new CPU cores, the Cortex-A12 (mid-range smartphone, faster than current Cortex-A9 technology). ARM also boast the performance of the Cortex-A15 supersedes Intel's low power core technology, even though it's based on their new 3D transistor at 22nm.

Newer ARM chips will migrate to 20nm technologies and even 16/14nm designs and they say that will keep them ahead of Intel for the foreseeable future.