Right out the gate, I was surprised by the BlackBerry 10 event. The very first announcement was one that completely took me by surprise: RIM, or Research In Motion, is changing their name to BlackBerry. It makes sense, but I didn’t think they’d go so far to underscore the point they’re trying to make about their rebirth. The rest of the presentation went swiftly as well, and saw the announcement of two new phones running the new BlackBerry 10 OS.
The first new phone is one that we saw in many leaks before today: the BlackBerry Z10. This is a touch-screen phone, with internals that are up to Android flagship standards – vintage late 2011, at least. That includes a reasonably dense and quite pretty 4.2″ 1280 x 768 display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage expandable via micro SD to 48 GB in total. The phone’s chassis is interesting too, with the same wedge-ended design that we saw in leaks previously. The BlackBerry Z10 case comes in a black/white colour scheme, with the main colour decorating the body and back and the alternative colour being shown on the wedge ends. It’s a handsome phone, and looks to suit the new OS well.
As we knew about the phone for some time, there are already a wide range of BlackBerry Z10 accessories ready to ship in the UK. The phone itself will be sold tonight in the UK, with slightly later release dates – in the magnitude of days to weeks – elsewhere in the world.
The BlackBerry Q10 is one that we kind of expected, but hadn’t seen leaked prior to the event. The phone, as the Q suggests, is a QWERTY hardware keyboard model that should be just the thing for die hard BlackBerry fans. Inside, we’ve got similar specifications to the Z10 with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 2 GB of RAM. The display is interesting; a 720 x 720 pixel square that measures 3.1 inches diagonally. Another interesting point is the phone’s back, which is made of a ‘glass weave’ material that is lighter, thinner and stronger than plastic – not bad.
Of course, both of the new phones (as well as the old BlackBerry PlayBook tablet) will be running the new BlackBerry 10 OS. The OS includes a number of changes, all in line with BlackBerry’s traditional strengths. The OS itself is entirely gesture-based, without relying on a home button for multi-tasking. Instead, that’s the job of an assortment of swipes that will allow you to switch apps and check notifications with a single thumb. Core BlackBerry apps – including BlackBerry Messenger and the photography apps, which now include video calling and magical blink elimination, respectively. The new OS will surely take some getting used to, but seems to be a modernizing upgrade over the old BlackBerry OS.
After seeing the show, I’m feeling a lot better about BlackBerry’s chances – they’re certainly giving it their all to create a phone that continues their strengths of security and professional world, while still maintaining modern smartphone features that people have come to expect on other platforms.