In some ways, the new BlackBerries are pretty much what you’d expect from a modern-day smartphone, from the newly-rechristened BlackBerry corporation. Guess they got sick of all those jokes about “being on the RIM of collapse.” In other, usually somewhat small ways, the phones are better or at least different. But one way they might be very different, and thus in trouble, is with pricing.
The technical stuff is pretty standard on both the Blackberry Z10, which is a full touchscreen, and the Q10, which has a physical QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen: 1.5 GHz system-on-a-chip processor that contains two ARM cores, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 8-megapixel back camera, 2-megapixel front camera, MicroSD slot, NFC, micro USB, micro HDMI, and LTE and WiFi.
The Z10 has a bigger screen and better resolution, with 4.2-inch touchscreen with a 1280 x 768 pixels resolution (better than the iPhone’s) compared to a 3.5 by 3.5 inch touchscreen at 720 x 720. The Q10 is pretty clearly a legacy product, and actually won’t be arriving in the US until April, with the Z10 arriving in March.
And the software is full of nice touches. It’s essentially built around swiping and one-handed use. Swipe from the left and you bring up a notification center with Tweets, emails, texts, all in one timeline. While typing swipe left to delete a word and swipe down to bring up a punctuation menu. Swipe down on the home screen and you can switch between a Work and a Personal profile.
On a professional level, BlackBerry Messenger is getting video calling and has Skype in its app wheelhouse, and BBM can actually enter a whole-phone screen-sharing mode, which is pretty interesting. It even has a function called Remember, which lets you save essentially anything with little notes and other stuff. If that sounds like Evernote… well, that’s fully integrated as well.
As for apps, it claims to have 70,000. As for carriers, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon will be carrying it according to BlackBerry’s site.
The big question is this: How much does it cost? Thorsten Heins said during the presentation, again and again, that the Z10 would be available on a three-year contract. Yes, three.
That’s odd not least because T-Mobile is dumping contracts altogether. And Google, for example, is going in the exact opposite direction with the Nexus 4, a phone they literally can’t keep in stock.
We’ll know soon: It’s arriving in the UK today, Canada next week, and the US in March. But technologically and software-wise, BlackBerry has done what really seemed impossible: Delivered a high-end phone we might actually care about.