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  1. m0de25's Avatar
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    Default My thoughts on X10 design, as a professional industrial designer

    Look, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I felt compelled to write this as I literally cringe when I scroll down to threads like "why the f is the x10 so ugly?" or "Is the N series Ugly?"

    I have been an industrial designer for the last 15 years working as the head designer for a major appliance company. I have no affilaition to RIM other than I invested in some 1600 shares a few months back. Heck, I'm not even a heavy cellphone user, so I likely won't even be getting BB10 just because it would not be used to it's fullest.

    Before I start...
    Criticisms about available screen space and hard buttons for accurate onscreen pinpointing may be valid, but because of my inexperience with these particular details, I cannot comment on them. However, I would imagine that the designers at RIM have weighed all the "critical to quality" aspects in regards to these important user interface items. So... let's try the phone out first before we dust off the pitchforks.

    Now, a lot of people are dismayed that the new X10 images don't have the pizzaz and perceived cutting edge personality of some of these blue-sky concepts floating around (TK Victory, TK Justice, Blade, etc). To me, these concepts are the OBVIOUS concept iterations an industrial designer draws up as he/she explores the direction of a new model. For example: make the screen size large, body thin as possible, make the lines and surfaces as cutting edge as possible (to show everyone that we are bleeding edge technology), slap on our renowned-sure thing keyboard, etc, etc. But it takes experience and courage to step back from this train of thought and say to oneself... what makes a BlackBerry a Blackberry?
    It's not the rather cold, sleek, shiny images that many of you are praising. These concepts are fun to look at, but ultimately something I would expect out of an HTC or Samsung copy. In other words, these concepts look like Toyota Yaris, Chevy Aveo, Kia Rio, Honda Fit, Scion IQ, etc... Absolutely nothing wrong with any of these, but I think Blackberry should be considered as the classic brand. Cue in Mini Cooper, SmartCar, Fiat 500. Something modern, yet classic.

    These classic designs are the STANDARD because they have a deeper history and personality than the "knockoffs"

    So, finally, to cut to the chase.

    X10 design

    - Overall first impression maintains a certain warmth and classiness. People all over the world are/were romanced by BlackBerry, and this warmth and classiness is the very thing that they can't put their finger on (BBM, red notification light, dependability, security are obvious big draws as well, lol ) It's part of the reason why people come back... the other brands are just not the same despite their latest hardware and cool looks. It's part of the reason people refuse to UPGRADE and UPGRADE year to year. The BB's fit like a leather glove, with its features *AND* weathered look.
    - Straight keyboard/fret design is actually refeshing! The curved keyboard (although obviously a staple of BB, and perhaps provides the ultimate comfort angle for your thumbs) was getting long in the tooth and was too strong of a tie to the past few, troubled years. Whatever slight loss in comfort you MAY think you are losing going straight, I think the QWERTY straight is, frankly... cooler looking! Like the brand is young again.
    Perhaps most importantly, the straight keyboard design balances out the rather soft/round features of the rest of the phone. The straight (stainless steel?) frets provides and maintain a unique aesthetic that not only looks GREAT across the black backdrop but maintains the BB look going forward and matches the new paradigm of the touch keyboard. With the sheer boldness of the frets, anyone else who dares come up with a new QWERTY model will not be able to go cruved or now even straight(!), without coming out as a blatant knock off.
    - Rounded shape... yes, straight edges and minimal iRadius scream cool, but ultimately, soft edges are better for ergonomics and is more pocketable to balance increases in overall size of phones today. Not to mention, this kind of curved design is more robust for drops.
    - The back cover. Again, a lot of people are screaming about how ugly the leaked images of the back are. I'm in the boat as the the other half in saying that the final product (with the texturing and perfected finish), will ease people's minds. Not to mention, without handling an X10, it appears that they optimized the back for holding and typing comfort in the long haul. This phone can very well be the most comfortable, workhorse phone out there!
    - Lack of metal trimming found on current staple models? $$$

    I can literally go on and on, but I just wanted to say... Chillax! In my opinion, the X10 is looking to be another classic in the making out of RIM. I don't know about you, but if I was in the market for a Mini Cooper, I would want the thing to still maintain its classic cues... not turn it into some futuristc looking Scion.

    My opinion is that the X10 design continues BB's tradition as a great communicator and an object of desire that will please heavy users, and looks to be something that will age well... like a leather glove. Newcomers and or previous naysayers will either gladly come on board, or get their cutting edge fix with the Z10. It's a win-win for RIM, exactly what their design intent should be. And this is exactly why the 2 phones look so different from one another. RIM is covering their bases, old and new.
    Last edited by m0de25; 01-25-2013 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Smelling Pistakes fixed
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  2. m0de25's Avatar
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    Yikes! Just realized how much I typed! Sorry for the long read.
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    I appreciate the observations - especially the automobile metaphors. I too am glad that the X10 will be more 'Mini' and less 'Scion.'
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  4. Bob G's Avatar
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    I've been in Android he!! for the past year, so I am very excited to be able to come back to BlackBerry.
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    Yep m0de 25, you echo my thoughts BlackBerry just has to bring it's traditional functionality to the design. How they handle fine navigation without the trackpad will be a biggie, and hopefully it will keep keyboard shortcuts. If the BlackBerry X10 handles these issues well AND has the BB10 flow navigation, you're talking awesome!
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  6. 416to604's Avatar
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    m0de25 i agree with you 100%. people need to realize that concepts are just that and be happy with the X10 (or not, and don't buy it). complaining on a forum where half of the people disagree with you won't soothe your sore backside.

    also we haven't seen the final product. once it gets the polish and high-res image treatment i have feeling a lot of the people who are saying the X10 is ugly will change their tune.
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  7. mermonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 416to604 View Post
    also we haven't seen the final product. once it gets the polish and high-res image treatment i have feeling a lot of the people who are saying the X10 is ugly will change their tune.
    Exactly.
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  8. Bbnivende's Avatar
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    We all agree that the X10 is all about functionality . Make the phone thin but do not sacrifice the battery. Make the screen as large as possible but not at the expense of holding the phone comfortably. As far as the back cover I would have preferred leather for the feel. Two big issues are: Did they just use the 9900 footprint out of expedience and to save design costs or do they truly feel that that size is the what the audience wants. By not growing the size have they neglected where the smart phone industry is going. I think here the answer is to offer a large and classic size model. The large model would enhance the use of BB10. The large model would have grabbed some attention to what many perceive to be a dying design. The second issue is the loss of the track pad. Is the screen large enough to warrant the loss of the trackpad ? Presumably RIM has done ample testing and knows that the X10 works better than the 9900 for the majority of users.

    Thanks M0de for your article on the design aspects. Maybe a another analogy would be to the Harley Davidson or Vespa . Make it modern but classic at the same time. I hope though it doesn't turn out like most recent Thunderbird. I wish I would have bought 1600 shares months ago. I just bought enough shares to be able to make enough money to finance the purchase of a new phone.
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  9. CranBerry413's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m0de25 View Post
    Yikes! Just realized how much I typed! Sorry for the long read.
    I actually prefer a long read!

    But this was well put and I happen to agree with your points. Furthermore, I also feel that the BlackBerry "look" is in fact Iconic. And that is something that you cannot let got of. Personally, I like the classic look of the X10 and will be a proud owner of one once they come to Sprint.

    Then again, it is Sprint, so who knows when they will be getting anything these days.
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  10. m0de25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bbnivende View Post
    ... By not growing the size have they neglected where the smart phone industry is going. I think here the answer is to offer a large and classic size model. The large model would enhance the use of BB10. The large model would have grabbed some attention to what many perceive to be a dying design. The second issue is the loss of the track pad. Is the screen large enough to warrant the loss of the trackpad ? Presumably RIM has done ample testing and knows that the X10 works better than the 9900 for the majority of users.
    Thanks everyone who read and for all of your replies!

    Bbnivende, you've brought up some valid points about increasing the footprint and about justifying the loss of the trackpad. Functionality is paramount for this model as everyone knows. I agree that perhaps a bigger overall phone would align the model with the current trend, while improving the experience in most respects (typing, visable and useable screen real estate). Ultimately, let's hope that the size they spec'd marries well with BB10. If it doesn't, we can certainly have issues.... but this goes against the attention to detail that I've been witnessing on what we've been exposed to so far.

    But, who knows? Maybe one of the 6 upcoming models is a large X10! ... and maybe they thought "out-of-the-box" with the trackpad... ie. touch screen to place cursor, then gyro-tilt phone to move cursor about! At minimum, here's hoping for a nifty, onscreen graphic solution designed by our friends over at TAT.
    Last edited by m0de25; 01-28-2013 at 07:36 PM.
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  11. jesse_h's Avatar
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    I don't think the images we've seen are the final device, so I hope what you wrote isn't wasted on that. We'll find out in a few days.
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    Like a breath of fresh air. Thanks OP.

    And welcome to Crackberry!
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  13. TylerXIII's Avatar
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    I think m0de25 caught the design on the X10 perfectly. I love it's 9900-esqe stature and the X10 is supposed to be not only a consumer item (though it may not be 5 inches tall and massive like the industry standard), but a professional work horse's dream! It's supposed to be functional, and while I'm a student, I love my 9900 for the fact that I can communicate with my Professors, friends and family with ease and I can have useful apps.
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  14. Ray III's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure the only reason the frets are straight is to make the screen as big as possible. They don't have that nice button panel for the keys to wrap around anymore.
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    Default My thoughts on X10 design, as a professional industrial designer

    I never understand why people get so hung up about appearance with phones like the X10. The main criteria is FUNCTIONALITY. if it happens to look as handsome as a Bold 9900 fine but the main rule to judge it by,is how it works. if you're worried about asthetics,buy a Z10.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9800 using Tapatalk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray III View Post
    I'm pretty sure the only reason the frets are straight is to make the screen as big as possible. They don't have that nice button panel for the keys to wrap around anymore.
    By making the keyboard straight it would also lead to the keys being slightly larger on average which would easily offset any minor benefits of the curve on the keyboard.
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    Skeevecr , I see the keys all being the same size as the current T or Y key on the Bold 9900. In fact it would be the P & Q keys that would be slightly smaller assuming that the exterior footprint is identical to the 9900 . I think in real life, the differences in key size and lack of curvature will not be noticeable. Assuming that the designers did not want to make the X10 any wider than the 9900 ( the Porsche phone is 1mm wider) and the screen size was a given based on the width, the only design question was whether the track pad would be retained by increasing the length.

    I tried cut and pasting while not using the track pad. It is not as easy and it takes some practice but like anything the more you do it the easier it becomes. The track pad is more functional. In the end I think the designers/ marketing types may have felt that the X10 presented a cleaner more modern image. Perhaps too the loss of the trackpad was a software issue.
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    As far as the cut and paste issue, it is probably too soon to judge that until we see how it works on the z10 since presumably it will work exactly the same on the x10 too.
  19. m0de25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Houshinto View Post
    Like a breath of fresh air. Thanks OP.

    And welcome to Crackberry!
    Thanks for the welcome, glad to be here!
    Not trying to bump my own thread, just wanted to say, finally, that I hope when the real thing launches on Wednesday, people will see that RIM made the right choice in choosing the simple route for this first generation BB10 QWERTY. It's a nice, simple, elegant design... made to showcase BB10 interface in all its glory (hopefully!).
  20. m0de25's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ray III

    I'm pretty sure the only reason the frets are straight is to make the screen as big as possible. They don't have that nice button panel for the keys to wrap around anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skeevecr View Post
    By making the keyboard straight it would also lead to the keys being slightly larger on average which would easily offset any minor benefits of the curve on the keyboard.
    Straight keyboard was definately designed to maximize the screensize and allow for a straight bezel for upsweeping within the BB10 interface.... and to simplify the design in general. Now, as far as the BB10 touch inteface vs trackpad is concerned, I would believe that either the touch aspect of BB10 works well on its own, or they will come up with a graphic alternative to the trackpad. In any case, we'll soon find out!
  21. m0de25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrew1953 View Post
    I never understand why people get so hung up about appearance with phones like the X10. The main criteria is FUNCTIONALITY. if it happens to look as handsome as a Bold 9900 fine but the main rule to judge it by,is how it works. if you're worried about asthetics,buy a Z10.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9800 using Tapatalk
    I agree with you, however... RIM's in a make-it-or-break-it corner. I think people are very vocal about the design of the X10 (despite its functionality or whether or not it pushes them to a Z10) because RIM cannot afford any negativity with this launch. If their flagship model screams "ugly" or "same old" to the ruthless buying public, they'll have less chance at turning their fate around. Whether you like it or not, both phones are set to represent the "new RIM", hence they need to put their best step forward.

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