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RIM renamed BlackBerry, release OS10 and 2 new phones

  • Z10 touchscreen, Q10 QWERTY keyboard
  • Big specs; OS10 looks sharp
  • Will it be enough?
Written by Adam Wajnberg
31/01/2013

Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the BlackBerry, had a big day today in which amongst other things, they renamed their company to BlackBerry. Makers of the BlackBerry.

blackberry z10

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After almost 6 months delay and much speculation that the company was headed for the scrap heap, BlackBerry announced two new handsets at an event in New York, the Q10 and Z10. Both handsets will go on sale in the UK this week, with Canada in February and the US in March. With BlackBerry never having a heap of traction in Australia, we might not see these phones for a while, if at all (let’s not forget Microsoft’s first big attempt to break into smartphones, the KIN, which died quickly and never made it here).

Z10

The Z10 is the flagship, a 4.2 inch touchscreen phone with a screen the equal of the iPhone (better, really:  1280 x 768 pixels resolution, or 356 pixels per inch). It also boasts:

Dual Core 1.5GHz Processor

2GB RAM

8MP camera (2MP front facing)

MircoSD (which you’ll need, with only 16GB onboard)

LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, BT 4.0 – all the usual radio protocols

And a price only a BlackBerry stockholder could love. In the US, the phone’s going to be offered only on three year contracts from AT&T, and cost the same as an iPhone 5.

BlackBerry seems to be making the same mistake as Windows Phone 8; it’s only releasing on premium hardware, on exclusive agreements, at huge prices. That means asking dedicated Apple and Android ecosystem users to migrate (at cost – you have to re-buy all your apps) with no cheap buy-in or ‘testing’ incentive. And iOS and Android are not yet bad enough for a third alternative (sorry, a fourth) to be expected to make headway.

The specs are damn good, and BlackBerry OS 10 (which has been previewed extensively at this point) is roundly agreed to be very good, but not appreciably better than the big two. And those specs will be superseded within months, as a new generation of quad-core superDUPER phones running Android will be released from HTC, Samsung and the rest. And of course, the iPhone 5S/6/Whatevs will probably have to bring some game, as the market becomes saturated and Apple finally starts to look vulnerable (even if that vulnerability is mostly in the minds of bonko analysts).

Q10

blackberry q10

 

The Q10 was released with less zeal, but is really the more intriguing of the two, as it still boasts the famous QWERTY keyboard that made BlackBerry both a star and a pariah when touchscreens came along. As people have grown accustomed to touchscreens and their limitations, there’s room to appeal to people who miss and prefer the feel of tactile buttons.

The phone has most of the processor heavy internal specs of its handsome brother, but with a 3.1 inch screen that appears to be relatively well integrated. It’s nice to see that hardware keyboards can still be done correctly.

Both phones boast great design, perhaps ‘inspired’ by the iPhone 5 but with that unmistakable BlackBerry industrial toughness that was missing in their last round of

phones.

Conclusion


Look, we’ve never been big fans of BlackBerry here, but that had more to do with their boneheaded PR moves and general incompetence at getting traction in the smartphone game (which they created) after the iPhone busted through. But no-one has ever doubted that BlackBerry/RIM had the chops to make good stuff.

Unfortunately, it still seems like nothing has changed. BlackBerry has released two good looking, well built pieces of kit that could appeal to the masses looking for an alternative to the status quo, or who are looking to get their first smartphone – and they’ve priced themselves out of contention. Who are these for?

The best thing to maybe come out of this is that some features of BBOS 10 look great, like clear profile separation for business and personal use, and some features in BBM that make it look better than iMessage. Maybe that will spur the other guys to make some changes to their own offerings, but BlackBerry would have to steal some market share to make a point – and that’s not looking certain, or even remotely likely, at all.

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