There have been a lot of rumours about BlackBerry’s new handsets and a lot of hype about how they could turn around parent company RIM’s fortunes. And now the much-anticipated Z10 and Q10 have finally had their official launch.
The two new gizmos will be the very first to run the company’s new operating system. And, in a symbol of the fresh start they could signal, Research in Motion is accompanying the launch by officially changing its name to BlackBerry.
As expected, the Z10 is a flashy touchscreen device very much designed to rival Apple’s flagship iPhone franchise. The Q10 on the other hand retains the famous keyboard that built BlackBerry into the iconic brand it is today.
At the heart of both new devices is a new operating system called BlackBerry 10 which is designed to cash in on BlackBerry’s strength in the business market while still appealing to consumers using the device to organise their personal life.
While a single interface allows you to manage your work and home calendar at a glance, the two are completely segregated. If you take a photograph and select work, for example, it will be stored in a different place to snaps taken while in personal mode. As one BlackBerry executive explained: “If you get fired, you don’t want the boss to delete all the photos you took of your kids.”
So, with so much pressure on the shoulders of one device – the money is really on the Z10 to change BlackBerry’s struggling reputation – what can we expect?
With solid build quality and a rubberised back, the Z10 has a 4.2-inch screen that is sharp and detailed at 356DPI. If you compare that to 326 for the iPhone, it looks like BlackBerry has a real contender on its hands.
BlackBerry’s new emphasis on touchscreen rather than relying on its Qwerty keyboard devices comes to the fore as soon as you turn on the new device – which you do by swiping your finger up the screen rather than pressing a button.
Once in, you swipe up to reveal a screen with tiles of all the programmes you are running. Then you swipe right to look at your BlackBerry Hub – a combined inbox which brings together everything you have from your email and social networks.
The new system runs on Peek and Flow. Flow refers to the way BB10 operates as you glide between applications and screens while Peek is the clever little gesture which allows you to check your latest notifications and messages without having to exit the current app you’re using.
It’s all impressive stuff, but apps may prove a problem for BlackBerry. While the new devices do run its own and lots of Android apps, some, such as the Facebook app, isn’t yet fully formed and there is no YouTube app. With consumers increasingly looking to apps to make life more convenient, this may be off-putting for many.
Only time will tell whether BlackBerry’s Z10 and Q10 have what it takes to challenge Apple and stem the dominance of Google’s Android. BlackBerry certainly has a tough task ahead of it.
The gizmos are set to cost around £50 a month on contract.