Thursday, January 31, 2013

RIM Launches BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 New Smartphones

In addition to changing its name from RIM to BlackBerry, the Canadian smartphone-maker has today launched its next-gen operating system and phones.

BlackBerry 10 (BB10) was unveiled at an event in New York by BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins. Accompanying the new mobile OS, which competes with iOS and Android, were two new BlackBerry phones: a touchscreen Z10, and a touchscreen-and-keyboard Q10. Both run the new OS.

These phones both support 4G data connectivity, feature 1.5GHz dual-core processors, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable internal storage.

The BB10 OS is a complete overhaul of the traditional BlackBerry aesthetic, with a focus on ease-of-typing on a touchscreen interface, better apps, a simple interface for managing social network alerts, email, BBM and a number of other features.

Case in point is an update to the popular messaging tool BBM, called BBM Screenshare. It allows for Skype-like videocalls over a data connection, but also offers a remote screen-sharing functionality. In a nutshell, it means you can let another BB10 user see your phone's screen, apps, and what you're currently doing with them. It could be used for showing photos during a video call, for example, or slides from a presentation.

BlackBerry has also aimed to address the fact that its userbase is made up of businesspeople and teens. In BB10 it has developed BlackBerry Balance, which essentially lets users switch between two profiles: Work and Personal. One could feature only apps and other functions needed during the working day, while the other might highlight games, Facebook and similar tools reserved for out of office hours. They can be switched between quickly and each profile gets its own customisation options, such as wallpapers and homescreens.

An interesting feature shown off was BB10's Picture Editor, which offers basic cropping and editing functionality for photos, as well as Instagram-like filters and sharing functions. Although not likely to win sales in itself, building such a function into the OS that other platforms require separate apps for, is a smart move.

The same is true for sharing videos and photos as complete packages. BlackBerry Story Maker lets holiday-goers, for example, quickly create slideshows that incorporate multiple pictures and moving images. It's a bit like a one-touch slideshow-maker, with built-in tools for adding titles and captions.

The OS is designed to run multiple apps at once -- something the iPhone is renowned for not supporting as fully as Android, or even the defunct Palm Pre from HP. It means that switching from watching a video to replying to an email doesn't have to mean the video is paused and moved to the background.

BlackBerry has also promised that a big selection of well-known apps will be available at launch. Seventy thousand applications will be available from BlackBerry World, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Linkedin, Skype, Kindle, Dropbox, Fruit Ninja, WhatsApp, Angry Birds and a number of Gameloft titles.

Movies, TV shows and music downloads will also be available from BlackBerry World. The company has signed up all major record labels, a number of indie labels and multiple major movie and TV studios to populate the catalogue for launch.

A newsstand app will sell issues of magazines and newspapers, including those of the Guardian, the Economist, Cosmopolitan, Mail Online and the Wall Street Journal.

Although BlackBerry 10 is launched today, the rest of the world will get their hands on the new phones around February or March -- except for the UK, which will get the touchscreen Z10 on 31 January. Orange, T-Mobile, EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have all confirmed they will sell the Z10. It will be free on various contracts, with other prices yet to be confirmed.

BlackBerry Z10 is a touchscreen device running on BB10, has a 4.2-inch 1,280 x 768 touchscreen display with a 356 pixel density, front- and rear-facing cameras and comes in black and white. BlackBerry Q10 will keep a full QWERTY keyboard and has a 3.1-inch display. Both devices have 4G LTE capabilities.

BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Q10 

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