After months of anticipation, the BlackBerry 10 was unveiled today at a simultaneous, six-city press conference. Right before the event began, RIM (Research in Motion, the Canadian telecommunications giant responsible for the development of BlackBerry) made a major announcement. While their market symbol on NASDAQ had previously been RIM, they changed it to BBRY, perhaps to strengthen the brand’s identity (interestingly enough, the stock actually fell immediately following the announcement). This set the tone for the unveiling: a lot was at stake. After all, the brand that once dominated the smartphone industry has become a tool of the past. While its loyal fan base is still there, more and more BlackBerry users have ditched their keyboards and moved onto the iPhone or an Android device. Many are saying that this is BlackBerry’s last attempt to remain relevant. With that in mind we broke down everything you need to know about the BlackBerry 10 below to help you answer the inevitable question of “should I ditch my iPhone?”
1. The two new phones introduced today are the touchscreen Z10 and the Q10, which both still boast BlackBerry’s trademark keyboard—a feature which has become one of the only reasons people have stuck with the device. The Z10’s model is unlike anything BlackBerry has done before, with a 1280 x 768 4.2-inch HD display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 1,800mAh battery. The Q10 has similar specs, but is physically reminiscent of the previous BlackBerry Bold model.
2. A main point that RIM CEO Thorsten Heins stressed throughout the press conference was that the new BlackBerry system reflects the many complaints the company had heard regarding Internet usage, and they have streamlined it to provide a far more convenient operating system which freezes less frequently.
3. The operating system has also been streamlined, with a new feature called “BlackBerry Flow.” Users of BlackBerry can admit that if you’re trying to switch between different apps, you’re often met with a lot of trouble. Flow creates a seamless transition between an app like YouTube with the BlackBerry Hub.
4. The BlackBerry Hub is similar to what BlackBerry users are using now. It’s essentially the main screen, where all your messages—across every social platform—are available. This is a convenient way to view everything in the same place and easily jump between different messaging formats.
5. Unlike the iPhone keyboard which is frequently riddled with “autocorrect” errors, the Z10 uses language algorithms to predict what words users will type based on what they have previously said. Z10 users will be able to flick the word that appears on the screen and select it if it’s the correct one, unlike the iPhone which will just complete your word without asking. There’s also a handy multi-language support system, so if you begin typing in another language, the system will alter accordingly.
6. BlackBerry knows that many of its loyal customers are only users because their jobs require it. Thus, they developed BlackBerry Balance, which allows for you to have two “profiles” on your phone—a work profile and a personal profile. Each has different contacts and apps depending on what you want, and you can easily switch between the two profiles via the BlackBerry Hub. This is great for people who handle confidential information that they wouldn’t want to accidentally send to someone else.
7. BlackBerry Messenger (or BBM as diehard fans call it) now has video calling capabilities, similar to the iPhone’s FaceTime feature. You can also sync screens.
8. While the BlackBerry camera is notoriously worse than the iPhone and Android market, they have stepped up their game immensely with the BlackBerry Timeshift feature. This allows you to take multiple photos in a row, and choose your favorite—and then create the perfect shot. There are also filters (similar to Instagram) for photo editing on the go.
9. While the U.S. release date has not been announced, it is expected to happen in March. Verizon will be stocking both the Z10 and Q10, priced at $199 with a two year contract. Meanwhile, in the UK you will be able to snag the Z10 tomorrow through all major networks.
10. In a random twist, singer Alicia Keys has been announced as the brand’s creative director. In case you’re wondering what that means, the singer stated, “I’m going to work closely with the app designers, the carriers, to explore this BB10 platform. I’m definitely going to start with other super women who also love BlackBerry, and work with people in the entertainment and music business to inspire creative projects. And I want to enhance this concept, or bridging the gap between the work phone and the play phone. I’m extremely excited to work with you and your team.”
The Verdict: This may appeal to diehard BlackBerry users, but we don’t think it necessarily has the power to convert others back to the system. As much as it kills us to say, we think it’s too little, too late.
Share your thoughts in the comments below, what do you think of the new BlackBerry?