Research in Motion, now rebranded as BlackBerry, has finally taken the lid off its widely rumored BlackBerry 10 phones, the all-touch Z10 and the physical keyboard equipped Q10. The much delayed BlackBerry 10 OS, based on RIM’s acquisition of QNX’s real-time operating system, is a fresh start for the company’s BlackBerry platform and doesn’t borrow even a single line of code from previous versions.
Since there was a lot of information revealed at BlackBerry’s event today, we highlight the main announcements:
RIM is now BlackBerry
CEO Thorsten Heins announced that Research in Motion would now be known as BlackBerry, reflecting the “reinvention” of the company around the new BlackBerry 10 platform. As a part of this rebrand, RIM’s stock symbols would be changing too—it’ll now be listed as BBRY on NASDAQ and BB on Canadian stock exchange TSX.
Since BlackBerry’s all new BB10 OS is a fresh start to a smartphone OS at a time when most other platforms have been around since at least half a decade, it adds a lot of new features:
- The entire OS is gesture driven, and there are no physical buttons for navigation on BB10 devices. Swipe up to close an app and go to the home screen, swipe right for notifications and messages, swipe down to accept a call, swipe up to reject.
- A dedicated screen for app switching called BlackBerry Flow, with large cards showing what’s going on in an app. What’s interesting is these cards can also double up as widgets in certain cases.
- The BlackBerry Hub is the equivalent of the Notification Center on iOS, which unifies messages and notifications from all sorts of apps and services.
- Unlike other platforms where word suggestions appear above the keyboard or in the text field, BB10’s keyboard gives you word suggestions on the keys itself, and in case to choose an accurate suggestion, you can simply swipe up. (A jailbreak tweak named Octopus brings similar predictive typing to iOS as well)
- The camera on BB10 phones will capture images 10 milliseconds before and after you take a shot, detect faces, and let you select the best facial expressions.
- Keeping in mind its corporate user base, BB10 has a feature that lets you keep your work and personal apps separate, letting you flip a switch to toggle between the two.
BlackBerry has managed to generate a good amount of developer interest for BB10, and the platform will launch with an impressive catalog of 70,000 apps.
The Z10 is BlackBerry’s answer to modern smartphones like the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and runs the BB10 OS. It features an impressive set of specs:
- 4.2” 1280 x 768 display with a pixel density of 356 ppi as compared to the iPhone’s 326ppi Retina display.
- At 9.3mm and 138g it’s both thicker and heavier than the iPhone 5.
- A 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and 2GB of RAM.
- An 1,800 mAh battery, expandable storage, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0.
- 8MP rear camera with 1080p video recording, 2MP front camera for 720p video.
The phone will go on sale in U.K., Canada and U.A.E. within the next week, but will come to the U.S. only in March on all four major carriers at a price of $199 with a two-year contract.
In its revamp, BlackBerry hasn’t forgotten its fans who swear by the physical QWERTY keyboard on earlier devices in the wild. The company’s Q10 phone features a full QWERTY keyboard with a square touchscreen display and runs BB10.
- The display measures 3.1” and has a 720 x 720 pixels resolution with an impressive pixel density of 330ppi.
- Just like the Z10, the Q10 has an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera.
- It has a 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM.
- It’s industrial design is also very different from earlier BlackBerry QWERTY phones.
There’s no information on pricing yet for the Q10, but it’s supposed to arrive in April this year in the U.S.
BlackBerry also announced a number of accessories to go along with the new hardware that the company unveiled today. It showed off an iPad like Smart Cover for the new phones that doubles up as a stand and will be available in multiple colors. It also put on display a charger that has a slot for an extra backup battery in addition to the phone. And lastly, they company showed a Bluetooth mini stereo speaker that also acts as a loudspeaker for conference calls.
Do you think all that BlackBerry has unveiled today would guarantee its existence as an independent company a few years from now?
See also: BlackBerry Z10 and iPhone 5 compared in a video.