At the end of January, came the announcement of the launch of the new BlackBerry, which went on sale in the UK and other countries at that point and in Canada on February 5th. All major carriers in the US will carry the new phone for around $199 when it arrives here in March or April.
How will this BlackBerry compare to its predecessor and to other phones on the market? Well, for one, it has a completely new Operating System, and Research in Motion (RIM), the company that makes BlackBerry, will re-brand itself as Blackberry to show its commitment to the new phone. The first devices to use the new Operating System are the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10.
The Z10 is the most radical departure of the two from the original BlackBerry. It is a touch based smartphone with a 4.2 inch display. The back of the phone has a textured surface. In an article of January 31, 2013 in the WSJ, Walter Mossberg reviews the Z10 version. He writes that this is the version that BlackBerry is betting on to improve its sales since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The new OS is the most important part of this product, because it is a clean break from the old OS. Because its user interface is very different from the original, BlackBerry fans might have difficulty adjusting to it. Also, the Z10, being a touch based phone, looks more like its rival smartphones. The virtual keyboard of the Z10 has been reviewed as the best keyboard available.
Mossberg’s assessment of the Z10 is that it works fine but is still a “work in progress.” Features that he particularly likes are the new virtual keyboard, the camera, and the single Hub that gathers all messages. One downside he noted is that the Blackberry (at least for now) has fewer apps than its competitors. It also does not have its own cloud based system for storing and sharing files.
PC Magazine (January 30, 2013) also looked at the Q10 version for keyboard lovers. It features the BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard, a smaller screen than the Z10 and the back has a thinner and stronger glass weave cover.
BlackBerry Flow is a major feature outlined by the PC Magazine article. It can turn a traditional BlackBerry Messenger Chat into a video call. It also has screen share, which allows you to share your entire screen with another person. When you share a screen, your screen will disappear and you will see the screen of the person to whom you are chatting, so you can share documents, websites, photos, etc.
The BlackBerry Hub, as mentioned is a unified inbox, that contains all of your emails, texts and updates from social media like twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The BlackBerry 10 keeps work and personal apps separate, but email and calendar items are still mixed.
It will be interesting to see how this completely new BlackBerry does in the glutted smartphone market and if it is enough to bring the company back to its competitive status. The initial sales signs in Canada and the UK are positive. Look for more tips on the BlackBerry and other mobile devices on our blog.