Research in Motion has announced the release of BlackBerry 10 and two smartphones, the Z10 and Q10 during a live streamed, global event. There has been a lot of information released today, so here’s our quick guide covering all you need to know about BlackBerry 10.
It’s not RIM anymore, it’s just BlackBerry
BlackBerry 10 isn’t just a re-invention of an operating system. To show its commitment to change, Research in Motion (RIM) has changed its name. Now, RIM is officially known as “BlackBerry.” Using the tagline, “One brand, one promise,” CEO Thorsten Heins said, “We have transformed ourselves in and out.” That’s quite a promise, so does BlackBerry 10 live up to its introduction?
You may feel as if you already know the Z10, as it has been leaked so extensively. This is BlackBerry’s full touch phone and it boasts a 4.2-inch touchscreen with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory and an 8-megapixel camera. It also has 2GB of RAM, a microSD card slot, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0. At 9.3mm thick it’s not the slimmest smartphone available, and at 138 grams it’s not the lightest either. See how the Z10 compares to the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 here.
The Z10 is compatible with 4G LTE networks all over the world, and will be offered in black and white color schemes, although the latter will be exclusive to Verizon in the U.S. and Phones4U in the UK.
RIM (or “BlackBerry”) couldn’t get away with ditching the traditional QWERTY BlackBerry phone, which according to Thorsten Heins, was a must-have piece of hardware for the firm. Not much is known about the technical specification of the phone yet, only that it has a 3.1-inch touchscreen, a 720 x 720 pixel resolution and a glass-weave back panel, which is supposedly lighter and stronger than plastic. Early reports indicate the Q10 shares the same dual-core, 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM as the Z10. Unlike the Z10, its availability hasn’t been announced; however, during the Q&A session after the BB 10 launch event ended, it was revealed the U.S. should see the phone in April. See how the Q10 compares to older BB phones here.
BlackBerry 10 the software is what BlackBerry the firm is pinning its future hopes on, and like the Z10, it has been previewed, tested and leaked until there was almost nothing left to reveal at the launch event. However, it was good to see it up and running in its final version on stage and the smooth, gesture controlled user interface is sure to have won it many fans.
The new operating system promises an excellent keyboard, a super-fast web browser, easy one-thumb controls, the ability to keep your work phone and personal phone separate on the same device using Balance, plus 70,000 applications, plus movies and music available inside the BlackBerry World store at launch.
In addition to all this, we were treated to a demonstration of BBM Video, where a BlackBerry Messenger conversation was instantly turned into a video call, plus the a screen sharing session showed BBM Video’s versatility. BlackBerry Remember, an all-encompassing personal organizer was shown, as was the camera’s clever time-shift feature. BlackBerry 10 will operate in exactly the same way on both the Z10 and the Q10 and there will be no difference in features either.
Despite BlackBerry not acknowledging the iPhone exists, it does and it’s very much BB 10’s competition, as is every top-end Android smartphone from the Samsung Galaxy S3 to the HTC One X+. What’s more, BlackBerry has said it will be updating BB 10 hardware every 12 to 15 months, so the phones we’ve seen today will be with us until at least this time next year.
Under normal circumstances, this isn’t a big problem, but in-between now and then we’re almost certainly going to get a new iPhone, the Galaxy S4 and the new HTC M7, plus new Windows Phones. The same can be said on the software front, as Android 5.0 and iOS 7 are on the cards for later in 2013. BlackBerry 10 needs to be very good indeed if it’s to stay fresh in amongst all this new hardware.
If anyone should be looking over their shoulders it’s Microsoft, as BlackBerry 10’s ability to appeal to both business and personal users – through features like Balance – could be the level of versatility needed to attract those who don’t want to get involved with Apple or Google.
BlackBerry’s understated Q10 could be its a dark horse, a device which really doesn’t have any competition, as the QWERTY Android phones that do exist aren’t worth buying. If the firm is right, and there really is still demand for this form factor, the Q10 could be a winner for BlackBerry.
Should you put your money down?
This is a tough one, as BlackBerry 10 is completely new and comes from a manufacturer that despite appearances, is still on the brink of having to sell off parts of the business to survive. Hardcore BlackBerry fans won’t care though, and those wanting something different should take a look.
Potential buyers in the U.S. won’t need to make a decision yet, as the phones are still at least a month away from going on sale. It’s a different story in Canada and the UK, as they’ll both get to buy the BlackBerry Z10 over the coming week. UK network O2 is offering a slightly reduced tariff on the Z10 for the first two weeks – from £42 per month down to £36 – making it a good choice. In Canada, Telus, Bell, and Virgin are all pushing the Z10 for $150 with a frightening three-year contract, which could have the unfortunate effect of prompting anyone wavering to look elsewhere.
Adopting BlackBerry 10 at this early stage is more of a risk than choosing Android or iOS as your mobile ecosystem, but could be seen as comparable to adopting Windows Phone. More than any before it, BlackBerry 10 is a try-before-you-buy OS, but there’s a good chance it could turn out to be what you’re after. Exactly how many people will think this way remains the big question.