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By 31 January 2013 | Categories: news

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BlackBerry holding company RIM (Research In Motion) has finally played its hand by which it aims to turn its increasing fading mobile fortunes around.

The company formerly known as RIM, now simply known as BlackBerry, pulled the wraps off its new mobile platform, BlackBerry 10, as well as the first two smartphones powered by the new operating system (OS), at a glittering function in Sandton last night.

Canada’s smartphone and tablet maker showcased two new LTE (4G) enabled smartphones, the all-touch BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10 that, much like the Bold 9900 (review), features a touchscreen and physical QWERTY keyboard.  

BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones

The new BlackBerry 10 smartphones are very elegant and attractively styled devices, especially the Z10 which looks like the mix between an iPhone and HTC One X (review). At 130 x 65.6 x 9 mm and 135.4 g, it fits neatly in your hand and is comfortable to hold. Even though it features an all-plastic design, the smartphone still manages to exude an element of class.

In terms of displays the Z10 boasts a 4.2" (1280 x 768; 356 ppi) IPS LCD touchscreen, whilst the Q10 is fitted with a 3.1" (720 x 720; 330 ppi) Super AMOLED just above its traditional QWERTY keyboard.

Both devices are powered by a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon chip in some regions, TI OMAP 4470 CPU in others) along with a multitask-accommodating 2 GB of RAM. These smartphones come equipped with 16 GB of internal storage, but you do have hot-swappable access to a microSD memory card slot supporting cards up to 32 GB in size.

Also featured are a micro HDMI out port for showcasing presentations and multimedia content on an HDTV; dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11n; Bluetooth 4.0; and NFC (near field communications).

BlackBerry also have all the snapping basis covered with the Z10 and Q10 sporting an 8 MP autofocus rear-facing camera capable of full-HD (1080p) video recording as well as a 2 MP front-facing snapper for taking self-portraits and recording HD-Ready (720p) videos. This will come in handy since users are now able to make video calls over BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) with voice calling and screen sharing functionality also supported.

Two interesting extras enhances the camera and video functionality of the new devices. When one takes a picture, Time Shift actually records burst shots before the actual image, allowing users to select the scene where, for example, the subject’s eyes are not closed. Story Maker enables users to bring a collection of photos and videos together, along with music and transition effects, culminating in an HD movie that you can instantly share.   

Modern, classy, and elegant: the new BlackBerry Z10 (left) and Q10 (right) smartphones.

Highlights of BlackBerry 10

Just like Nokia, BlackBerry has seen its smartphone market share gobbled up by iOS and Android, but unlike Nokia who adopted Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, the firm is gambling on its proprietary BlackBerry 10 platform to boost device sales.

After a bit of hands-on time with this innovative new OS, we can report that it is smooth, really responsive, and incredibly intuitive once you get to learn its ins and outs. The platform is entirely based around gestures with the star of the show being BlackBerry Hub (check the video posted below), which is a central location to manage all your conversations, social networking updates and notifications, email, and BBM messages.

The fact that you can check your messages without having to close applications is a treat, since the Hub is accessible from anywhere in the OS. When your LED indicator starts blinking for instance, you simply swipe up from within any app to reveal the type of message or notification received (peek) and then swipe right to get more detail on the message.

It’s very quick, works well, and much less intrusive than having jumping from the one app to the next.  

Superb typing experience & balancing work and play

We simply love the new onscreen keyboard that learns what words you use and how you use them. It offers suggestions above the letters on the keyboard so that users can just flick them onto the message, helping to drastically speed up typing. An Afrikaans language pack will apparently also become available for predictions in Afrikaans.

Corporate users will appreciate BlackBerry Balance technology, which elegantly separates and secures work applications and data from personal content on BlackBerry devices. You simply swipe down, which reveals two onscreen buttons to quickly switch in between the two profiles.

BlackBerry stated that its BlackBerry World storefront now boasts 70 000 BlackBerry 10 apps, which might be a far cry from the 800 000 apps available in Apple’s App Store but remains a very robust selection for a totally new platform. A lot will depend on BlackBerry’s ability to draw in app developers to enhance the expand the new ecosystem.

Worldwide, several key markets have revealed pricing and availability for the Z10, but unfortunately this does not include South Africa. All the local operators will be offering the new BlackBerry 10 devices, and we should get the pricing info within the next two weeks. BlackBerry expects the first global carriers to launch the Q10 in April, with pricing and availability info to follow around that timeframe.

To the point

BlackBerry 10 and the new phones have us excited about the Canadian firm’s devices once more, and we’re looking forward to more personal time with the devices. At the very least, it appears that BlackBerry fanboys will have a device able to compete with the iPhone and Galaxy S3 once again. But, with the next generation of smartphones, the likes of the Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z, hitting the market soon, BlackBerry needs to come up with even better devices sooner rather than later.

What do you think about the new platform and smartphones? Let us know by posting a comment below.  


In related news, RIM also recently revealed that the music section within BlackBerry World will be locally available. It will bring DRM-free music from all major and independent labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group.

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