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BlackBerry 10 Launch: Review of BlackBerry Z10 & Q10

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The next generation of BlackBerry launches in the UK today. The BlackBerry Z10 is the world’s first smartphone with BlackBerry 10: an operating system that has been designed from the ground-up to better compete with iOS and Android. We take a look at the new operating system and at the first BlackBerry 10 devices.

 

BlackBerry 10: A New Operating System

 

BlackBerry Logo.jpgBlackBerry has had a tough time over the last few years. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating system have both captured the public attention with their powerful touchscreen handsets. Meanwhile, BlackBerry’s keyboard-centric devices have fallen out of public favour. A lack of applications has also put consumers off the BlackBerry platform.

 

BlackBerry 10 is the long-awaited re-launch of the BlackBerry platform. It’s a brand new operating system that’s designed from the ground up for touch input – indeed the first BlackBerry 10 device, the BlackBerry Z10, is fully touch-based and lacks a hardware keyboard.

 

We’ll take a look at the new operating system and devices in this article.

 

BlackBerry 10 on giffgaff

 

With Blackberry 10, there is now no extra charge for using your BlackBerry on giffgaff. This means you can browse the web, check your e-mail and chat on BBM using a standard giffgaff goodybag.


BlackBerry 10 Devices.jpg
BlackBerry 10 devices such as the BlackBerry Z10 (left) and BlackBerry Q10 (right) no longer require the BlackBerry add-on.

 

This means that if you’ve got a SIM-free BlackBerry 10 device, you can get 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB internet for just £10/month. Even bigger savings to be had than before.

 

Note that if you’ve got an older BlackBerry device (BlackBerry 7 or earlier), you’ll still need the BlackBerry add-on.

 

Flow: BlackBerry 10’s New User Interface

 

BlackBerry Homescreen.jpgWith BlackBerry 10, the entire operating system has been redesigned. The general look of the operating system will now be fairly familiar to anybody who’s used an iPhone or an Android device, but the operating system is also unique in being based around a series of swipe gestures:

 

  • Minimising an application/Returning to home screen – Swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen. This will return you to your “Active Frames”: a page on the home screen that shows all of the applications you’re running. BlackBerry 10 does not have a home button.

  • Configuring settings or options – Swipe downwards from the top of the screen. This will give you a list of options for the current application. Alternatively, swiping downwards in the home screen will give you settings for the device.

  • BlackBerry Peek (Notifications) – Swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen and then hold. This will open up “BlackBerry Peek” which shows notifications such as missed calls and new messages. This is similar to the notification tray on Android.

  • BlackBerry Peek.jpgBlackBerry Hub (Messages) – Swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen, hold and then swipe to the right. This opens the BlackBerry Hub. BlackBerry Hub combines all of your messages together in one place including SMS, BBM, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter posts. It’s possible to use the BlackBerry Hub to check messages without closing the application that you’re using. See this video of it in action.

The use of gestures throughout BlackBerry 10 means that there is no need for buttons on the front of the phone. Whereas the iPhone has a home button and most Android devices have menu, home and back buttons, the BlackBerry Z10 is button-free. This makes the design much cleaner.

 

Applications in BlackBerry 10

 

With BlackBerry 10, there’s been a real effort to increase the number of applications on the BlackBerry platform. Unlike older versions of the BlackBerry operating system, BlackBerry 10 is based on the QNX platform. QNX offers benefits such as the ability to run more powerful applications and true multitasking. The downside is that applications designed for older BlackBerry devices will no longer work in BlackBerry 10.

 

At launch, BlackBerry claims that there are 70,000 applications available for BlackBerry 10. This includes some big names such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Kindle and Angry Birds. However, there are some notable omissions too – Instagram, Google Maps, Spotify and YouTube for instance.

 

The figure of 70,000 applications falls rather short of the 800,000 applications that are offered on iPhone and Android. BlackBerry applications also tend to cost more than their counterparts on other platforms – something that’s worth being aware of.

 

To increase the selection of apps available for BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry has implemented the ability to run Android apps. However, developers will still need to repackage their apps and they will need to re-submit it to the BlackBerry Store. It isn’t possible to access Google Play from BlackBerry 10. Only time will tell how many developers go through this process and whether it increases application availability on BlackBerry 10.

 

BlackBerry 10 Keyboard

 

BlackBerry’s devices have historically been popular for their hardware keyboards. For many people, this has made it somewhat surprising that BlackBerry is shifting towards on-screen touch-based keyboards. 

 

BlackBerry Predictive Keyboard.jpgThe on-screen keyboard in BlackBerry 10 aims to predicts what you’ll type next. It does this by analysing the content of your messages and by looking at the way you write. When the keyboard can make a guess of what you’ll type next, it’ll show that prediction above the next letter in the word. Swiping through that prediction will insert it into the message. Android users may be familiar with this functionality: it comes from the SwiftKey keyboard which can be downloaded on Android. The Android version, however, has a distinctly different interface with a “prediction bar” of words located above the keyboard.

 

The BlackBerry 10 keyboard also implements gestures such as swiping left to delete the previous word and swiping up to change to the numeric/symbol keyboard. The target regions for each key will also move depending on your typing patterns.

 

The first BlackBerry 10 device, the BlackBerry Z10, is fully-touchscreen. If you’re a fan of the traditional hardware keyboard on BlackBerry devices, you’ll need to wait until the BlackBerry Q10 is released. This should be in the next few months.

 

BBM: Voice, Video & Screen Sharing

 

BBM.jpgBlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is one of the most popular ways of keeping in touch on the BlackBerry. In addition to messaging, BlackBerry 10 adds voice calling and video calling to BBM. These calls are sent over the internet, working in a similar way to FaceTime and Skype. It’s also possible to share your screen: something that could be helpful when collaborating on work with a colleague.

 

BBM is only available on BlackBerry devices. If you want to call a friend on a different platform (e.g. iPhone or Android), it’s possible to download a third-party applications such as Skype. Screen sharing is only possible on BBM. See our guide to instant messaging applications for more information.

 

Photography: Time Shift Camera

 

One of the most talked-about features in BlackBerry 10 is the new camera with “Time Shift” functionality. Whenever a photo is taken in BlackBerry 10, the device actually takes a rapid succession of photos. When it comes to reviewing a photo, it’s possible to select the best photo from that sequence by fast forwarding or rewinding through time. Facial recognition is also supported to make it easier to choose the best photo.

 

TimeShift Camera.jpgPhotography isn’t a traditional strong point for BlackBerry but they’re hoping that they can catch up in their latest devices. The BlackBerry Z10 features an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash – similar to what you’d find on the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3. It can also do full HD video recording (1080p) at 30 frames per second.

 

The Galaxy S3 has functionality that is similar to Time Shift. This is called Best Photo.

 

Other Features in BlackBerry 10

 

Other changes in BlackBerry 10 include:

 

  • Improved Web Browser. BlackBerry 10 features a new and improved web browser. The new web browser is based on WebKit (the same technology that powers Safari & Google Chrome) and has improved support for HTML5 applications. Support for Adobe Flash is also built-in to the browser.

  • BlackBerry Balance. Primarily designed for corporate users. BlackBerry Balance separates the data on your device into two parts: business and personal. IT policies can be used so that business data isn’t transferred to your personal account and vice-versa.

  • Improved ‘BlackBerry World’ Store. The old ‘BlackBerry App World’ has gone and been replaced by ‘BlackBerry World’. As well as selling applications, the store now sells music, films and TV shows.

  • Voice Control. BlackBerry 10 features voice control functionality, similar to Siri on the iPhone.

BlackBerry Z10 vs BlackBerry Q10: BlackBerry 10 Devices Compared

 

BlackBerry 10 Devices.jpgThe BlackBerry 10 operating system will launch with a choice of two devices: the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10.

 

Following in the footsteps of the iPhone and most Android devices, the BlackBerry Z10 dispenses with a hardware keyboard and is a fully-touchscreen operated. Text input makes use of the on-screen keyboard in BlackBerry 10.

 

In contrast, the BlackBerry Q10 maintains the traditional BlackBerry form factor. There’s a hardware full QWERTY keyboard – something that should be popular for people who text and e-mail a lot.

 

The BlackBerry Z10 is available for sale today whereas the BlackBerry Q10 is due to be released in the next few months.

 

 

BlackBerry Z10

 BlackBerry Z10.jpg

BlackBerry Q10

 BlackBerry Q10.jpg

Processor

1.5GHz dual-core

1.5GHz dual-core

Display

4.2-inch LCD display

3.1-inch organic LED display

Screen Resolution

1280x768 pixels

720x720 pixels

Pixel Density

356 pixels per inch (356 ppi)

330 pixels per inch (330 ppi)

Operating System

BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 10

RAM

2GB

2GB

Storage

16GB Storage

16GB Storage

MicroSD Expansion

Up to 32GB

Up to 32GB

Camera

8 megapixels with LED flash

TBC

Video recording

1080p, 30 frames per second

TBC

Battery

1,800mAh (removable battery, 10 hours talk time)

TBC

NFC

Yes

Yes

Text Input

On-Screen Keyboard

Hardware Keyboard

Approx. Price

Approx. £480

TBC

SIM Card Size

Micro SIM

TBC

 

Both devices will be compatible with giffgaff. You can save money by buying the devices upfront and using one of our giffgaff goodybags. Plans start from £10/month on giffgaff and no additional add-ons are required for BlackBerry 10 devices.

 

BlackBerry Z10: Compared to iPhone 5 & Galaxy S3

 

As BlackBerry’s big comeback device, the BlackBerry Z10 is bound to be compared to the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S III. It certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard: the BlackBerry Z10 has specifications that can compare with the best of devices from Apple and Samsung.

 

In terms of its form factor, the BlackBerry Z10 is marginally larger than the iPhone 5. It features a 4.2-inch display at a pixel density of 355 pixels per inch (335ppi): enough to outclass the “Retina” display on the iPhone 5 (4.0-inches at a pixel density of 326ppi).

 

If you’re coming from an Android background, the screen on the BlackBerry Z10 might be smaller than what you’re used to: most high-end Android devices have screen sizes of between 4.7-inches and 5.0-inches. For example, the Galaxy S III’s 4.8-inch display eclipses the 4.2-inch display on the BlackBerry Z10, though some consumers may appreciate easier one-hand usage on the BlackBerry Z10.

 

Looking beyond the display, all three devices feature 16GB of onboard storage as standard and have an 8 megapixel camera for photography. Where BlackBerry’s Z10 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III both have an edge on Apple is in providing expandable memory (via micro-SD), larger batteries that are removable and support for NFC.

 

 

BlackBerry Z10

 BlackBerry Z10.jpg

Apple iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Front.jpg 

Samsung Galaxy S III

Marble White.jpg 

Processor

1.5GHz dual-core

1.3GHz dual-core

1.4GHz quad-core

Display

4.2-inch LCD display

4.0-inch TFT display

4.8-inch AMOLED (organic LED) display

Screen Resolution

1280x768 pixels

1136x640 pixels

1280x720 pixels

Pixel Density

355 pixels per inch (355 ppi)

326 pixels per inch (326 ppi)

306 pixels per inch (306 ppi)

Operating System

BlackBerry 10

Apple iOS 6

Google Android 4.0. Upgradable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

RAM

2GB

1GB

1GB

Storage

16GB Storage

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

MicroSD Expansion

Up to 32GB

No

Up to 64GB

Camera

8 megapixels with LED flash

8 megapixels with LED flash

8 megapixels with LED flash

Video recording

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

Battery

1,800mAh (removable, 10 hours talk time)

1,440mAh (non-removable, 8 hours talk time)

2,100mAh (removable, 11.6 hours talk time)

NFC

Yes

No

Yes

Text Input

On-Screen Keyboard

On-Screen Keyboard

On-Screen Keyboard

Approx. Price

Approx. £480

£529

Approx. £370

SIM Card Size

Micro SIM

Nano SIM

Micro SIM

 

Your Thoughts…

 

In this article, we’ve looked at BlackBerry’s new operating system, BlackBerry 10. We’ve also looked at the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10: two devices that are trying to challenge the dominance of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S III.

 

What do you think of BlackBerry 10? Are you a fan of BlackBerry’s new devices? We’d love to hear your thoughts … please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!

 

Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

45 Comments
seer

New Blackberry looks a great contender to the iphone, but maybe less so for the android.

The benefit of not needing the GG add on saves £36 per year as well

Thanks for the posting. Nice bit of info

phenomenon

"With Blackberry 10, there is now no extra charge for using your BlackBerry on giffgaff. This means you can browse the web, check your e-mail and chat on BBM using a standard giffgaff goodybag.

This means that if you’ve got a SIM-free BlackBerry 10 device, you can get 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB internet for just £10/month. Even bigger savings to be had than before."

 

That's very interesting - so potentially in the long-term, there will be no need for giffgaff to offer the BB-add on, as the older devices stop being used. 

lives and breathes giffgaff
How does that come about then and will members who buy the bbm and not need to get a refund
phenomenon

there's a new KB article about upgrading(oldyorkie pointed it out to me)

http://community.giffgaff.com/t5/Unlocking-Discussions-Knowledge/Guide-to-upgrade-to-a-BB10-device/t...

 

which does say "If you were already using a BlackBerry before, don't forget to cancel your recurring or queued BlackBerry add-ons. Once active the BlackBerry add-on can't be cancelled or refund anymore, so remember to verify it before the end of your current BlackBerry add-on."

seer

Presumably the giffgaff APN settings will have to be input manually for these phones.

 

The Blackberry guides will need amending!

head honcho

Hi bud

 . . . . .  Thanks for the review top job

 

Willie

newcomer
Is it better then the galaxy s3 or I phone 5 the tech info says no and the s4 is round the corner maybe it's to late for blackberry which is a shame.
oracle

Thanks for this kenlo Smiley Happy

Intereesting to see Blackberry have ditched the name "RIM" as part of their product relaunch - I spotted it on their official page yesterday and posted a link in OT for others to see.

 

The KB was an interesting find yesterday too - again eagle-eye yorkie spotted it lol.

 

Just waiting for all the "it's not fair - that BB doesn't need the addon but mine does ... " posts and whinges now .... you know it's gonna happen Smiley Wink

consultant

blackberry getting rid of need for blackberry add -on is great news indeed... this was one of the major stumbling blocks for new users looking to join blackberry platform, i guess rim themselves couldn't justify this extra cost...

llw
mentor

It's good the £3 add on won't be needed Smiley Happy