Just in case you were under a rock for a good part of the morning and afternoon on January 30th, BlackBerry 10 launched. The launch happened simultaneously around the world in key markets ranging from Canada to London to Dubai.
Not only did the company launch new handsets and a new operating system, but RIM officially became BlackBerry for good in name. So there is no more confusion – RIM now and forever will be known as BlackBerry, which is perhaps how it should have always been. In other news, Alicia Keys was named their new Global Creative Director, because there can never be a new product launch without some mention or involvement of a celebrity. But does having Alicia’s stamp of approval mean you should run out and get the Z10 or Q10 featuring the BlackBerry 10 OS – maybe. Ms. Keys’ new gig includes showing us that BlackBerry is essential for your professional and personal life – bridging the gap between the two. Is it also a coincidence that Ms. Keys will be singing the national anthem on Super Bowl Sunday? AND there will be the first ever BlackBerry commercial on game day too? Last but not least, Kevin Michaluk from CrackBerry got a haircut live at the announcement. Yes folks, today was an all around good day for BlackBerry.
But putting all the pomp and circumstance aside, BlackBerry’s newest handsets – the Z10 and Q10 are potential game changers for BlackBerry. Having spent a couple of hours now with the Z10, we have only scratched the surface of this new smartphone. While the design isn’t that out of the box in comparison to other handsets out there – heck, the front looks a lot like a black iPhone! But we have come to really enjoy its soft touch grip and its super sharp 360 ppi display. That said, brightness of the screen could be a little better and we are starting to realize that the ’10’ in BlackBerry 10 indicates how long it takes to get acquainted with the device. For some, it could be 10 minutes or 10 hours! Learning which way to swipe and gesture is going to force a big learning curve for most users. That is because the user interface experience on BlackBerry 10 is a sharp departure from BlackBerry’s previous software versions.
That said, BlackBerry fanboys and girls will truly love the innovative revamped BBM with its Screen Share feature. This new feature lets BB 10 users share their screen with other BlackBerry 10 users and it’s quite an impressive feature to come installed out of the box. We can already see screen sharing being used to troubleshoot issues on devices in IT environments. As for the U.I., transitioning between apps is fast and fluid. The MicroHDMI output is also a nice inclusion for those professionals who want to use their smartphone for presentations on the go. And while BlackBerry has ditched as many buttons as possible on the Z10, they did include dedicated volume buttons, a voice control button on the side of the handset, and a reset button on the top of the device. And finally, our tried and true red blinking notification light is still very much intact.
So where does that leave the Q10? Well the Q10 is a must have for those BlackBerry users that want to try out BlackBerry 10 without giving up their beloved QWERTY keypad. It is basically the second coming of the beloved Bold series. That said, with both a touchscreen and dedicated keyboard, the Q10 offers the best of both worlds. But with a 3.1″ display, you’ll be giving up some display real estate for the sake of having a keypad. This smaller screen real estate looks like it could potentially become an issue with the feature rich BlackBerry 10 OS. But overall, the quality of the handset is solid and we have to say, the Q10 area of the BlackBerry event was getting the most attention. The keypad is extremely ergonomic for its size and offers great tactile feedback. So even though the Z10 might be the flagship BlackBerry 10 device, the QWERTY keypad touting Q10 could be the sleeper hit. And fortunately, the battery is still removable in case you end up experiencing a freeze or failure… but we are hoping that is not the case with the BlackBerry 10.
Other key specs for both devices, include 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in memory, a 1.5GHz processor, NFC, LTE support, a 8MP rear-facing camera with 5X digital zoom and 108p video recording, and a 2MP front-facing camera. with 720p video recording.
Because of the massive worldwide appeal of BlackBerry 10, many carriers around the world will be launching the device on different dates in February, while we can expect to see the Z10 on both AT&T, Verizon ($199 on contract), and Sprint, sometime in March.
So have we fallen for the re-designed, re-engineered, re-invented BlackBerry 10? We’ll need to spend more time with the Z10 and Q10 before we jump to any hard conclusions.