RIM renames itself BlackBerry, launches BB10 and all-touch Z10 smartphone

By on January 30, 2013, 1:00 PM

Today’s a big day for the BlackBerry platform. The launch of a new operating system built from the ground up and new hardware to go with it could very well set the stage for a much anticipated comeback into the modern smartphone race, or seal its decline into irrelevancy. The company knows everything that’s at stake here and is kicking off its relaunch by dropping the Research in Motion name and rebranding itself as BlackBerry. 

CEO Thorsten Heins talked about how they’ve reinvented the company over the course of BlackBerry 10's buildup and said that going forward they want to represent this by bringing everything together under one brand.

Hardware

The Z10 will be the company's first full-touch smartphone running the new BB10 operating system. If you’ve been following BlackBerry in the news at this point you’re probably already familiar with some aspects of the phone thanks to a stream of leaks over the past few weeks. Design wise it looks like a beefier version of the iPhone 5 with similar touches at every angle -- the corners, the surface space on both ends of the screen, the solid band of metal that runs around the casing. But it’s also different in other aspects, of course.

The device features a larger 4.2 inch 1280 x 768 (356 PPI) screen and no home button whatsoever. Inside you’ll find a dual core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage expandable through microSD, rear (8MP) and front (2MP) cameras, and all the usual array of connectivity options and sensors -- Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensor.

Details are scant for its Q10 sibling besides Heins noting that it will sport a physical Qwerty keyboard and a 3.1-inch, 330PPI screen. More details about this model were promised further ahead along a launch in April.

Software

But of course hardware is only one part of the story. The star of the show is actually BlackBerry 10, the new operating system that should finally bring the company up to speed with iOS and Android -- or so the company hopes. Among its key features are the ability to switch between professional and personal profiles on a single device, a centralized location for all your messages and social media updates, a word recognition system to make typing easier, and free voice calling with screen sharing integrated into BlackBerry Messenger.

The company bragged about having the largest number of apps for any first generation launch at 70,000, and though they managed to get some big names on board we’ll reserve judgement on the other ~69,950.

Availability

Carrier support will be crucial for the fight to stay afloat and so far they have all four major US providers on board. The Z10 will be available on Verizon and AT&T equipped with LTE radios for $199 on contract -- initially BlackBerry mentioned a three year contract but some are reporting a standard two year commitment. T-Mobile and Sprint will also be involved with BB10 but they haven’t announced what phone they’ll carry.

Release dates will be in the "middle of" March for the US market, but UK customers can get their hands on the BlackBerry Z10 starting tomorrow and those in Canada will only have to wait until February 5.

What reviewers said

Reviews for BlackBerry 10 and the Z10 are already popping up around the web with mixed comments about hardware design, usability, third party app support, and battery life. Check them out.

The Verge: "The Z10 is a good smartphone. Frankly, it's a better smartphone than I expected from RIM at this stage in the game. It does everything a modern phone should do, usually without hesitation. The problem with the Z10 is that it doesn't necessarily do anything better than any of its competition."

Engadget: "As a replacement for older versions of BlackBerry OS, BB 10 is a huge step out of the dark ages of mobile OS design. It's something that finally feels intended for a modern, full-touch device, yet still offers the core productivity focus we think BBID-holders will like. Does it have mainstream appeal? Yes, it does, but we're not sure a great stock keyboard and some trick gestures are enough to unseat the current kings of mobile devices."

Cnet: "Although it builds off previous BlackBerry operating systems, BlackBerry 10 is a brand-new thing. [...] On the whole, it's more sophisticated right out the gate than Microsoft's first iteration of the Windows Phone OS, though some of what RIM left out -- like a way to click-to-call from any app -- leaves me scratching my head."

AllThingsD: "The Z10 and BB10 represent a radical reinvention of the BlackBerry. The hardware is decent and the user interface is logical and generally easy to use. I believe it has a chance of getting RIM back into the game, if the company can attract a lot more apps."




User Comments: 17

Got something to say? Post a comment
1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Good for them, I hope they can carve out a little niche for themselves now that they've gotten over their bias that no one would ever want a phone without buttons.

Can someone please explain to me the obsession with 'more apps'? Many times I've browsed the top free and top paid apps in android and haven't seen anything I've cared about. I only use about 6 or 8 regularly, and they're pretty mainstream apps.

RH00D RH00D said:

Good for them, I hope they can carve out a little niche for themselves now that they've gotten over their bias that no one would ever want a phone without buttons.

Can someone please explain to me the obsession with 'more apps'? Many times I've browsed the top free and top paid apps in android and haven't seen anything I've cared about. I only use about 6 or 8 regularly, and they're pretty mainstream apps.

Yeah, I agree that the whole "But we have THHIISSS many apps" argument is pretty weak. If you remove the apps that are duplicates, haven't been downloaded more than 10 times, is a free version of a paid app or vice versa, and ones that have no meaningful functionality, then you're number of apps goes down quite a bit.

treeski treeski said:

@MilwaukeeMike and @RH00D:

I don't think there really is a big obsession with app numbers anymore. Sure it still gets talked about, but people almost always talk about particular key apps in unison with overall app numbers. We all understand that have key apps is the most important aspect of an app store. When investigating a new phone OS, people don't ask, "How many apps does it have?" They ask "Does it have Draw Something? How about Instagram and Facebook? Netflix?"

As to BB... I think it looks relatively solid. I guess we'll see if it does enough to draw interest.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

@MilwaukeeMike and @RH00D:

I don't think there really is a big obsession with app numbers anymore. Sure it still gets talked about, but people almost always talk about particular key apps in unison with overall app numbers. We all understand that have key apps is the most important aspect of an app store. When investigating a new phone OS, people don't ask, "How many apps does it have?" They ask "Does it have Draw Something? How about Instagram and Facebook? Netflix?"

When an OS has a lot of apps, it is more likely to have the popular ones you listed above. When you're in Blackberry's position (formerly RIM), getting major players isn't easy, because those developers aren't going to rush to make apps for an OS with little to no users.

Tygerstrike said:

I say good for Blackberry!!! This MAY be the begining of BB rise again. Previously and before Iphone, BB phones were what everyone had. BB was kind of the start of the whole moble device craze. Once Iphone came out and then Android, BB couldnt keep up. Now they have this new phone. I will keep my fingers crossed for them. They have done what Apple refuses to do. They scrapped their old phones and ideas and came up with something completly new for them.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

That bezel is disgusting. Get rid of those top and bottom sections, please. Didn't they learn anything from iPhone 5?

misor misor said:

I don't know if this statement is a jab at light humor but I LOLed:

"The company bragged about having the largest number of apps for any first generation launch at 70,000, and though they managed to get some big names on board we?ll reserve judgement on the other ~69,950."

anyway, nice hardware features on bb10.

however, I think that to move forward, RIM should abandon bb OS and choose android or windows phone OS.

1 person liked this | St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Ubuntu, BB10, Android, iOS, FF, WinPho. There's too many, some need to die.

psycros psycros said:

Ubuntu, BB10, Android, iOS, FF, WinPho. There's too many, some need to die.

FF and Ubuntu, obviously..precisely nobody asked for Linux featurephones. WP could go as well and nobody would notice. A sizable number of people, esp. in the developing world would lament the loss of Blackberry. They need affordable, reliable messaging and business apps first and foremost. Unfortunately they've pretty much killed themselves in the US since the BB10 devices won't be available from American carriers until April. Whatever momentum the Z10 and Q10's innovations might have spurred were squandered with that colossal bungle.

Arris Arris said:

That bezel is disgusting. Get rid of those top and bottom sections, please. Didn't they learn anything from iPhone 5?

I think they leave bezel areas at top and bottom for something to hold on to when using the device in landscape format. Otherwise you are covering the screen when holding it. I too wanted nothing but screen but I couldn't argue with the "handle" logic.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

On the contrary, I believe most mobile OS platforms will find some space, especially if they can also get some big names on board to put their OS on devices.

@psycros

In many Asian countries the likes of Samsung aren't held in highest regard when it comes to quality hence it means there is opening for others, so the OS like WP is starting to make good inroads, and I am not talking about Europe where WP has already made some good gains in several markets.

Personally, S3's cheap plasticky feel is a turn off compared to a much better quality feel of iPhone 4S/5 or 920 for example.On the OS side, until I got fed up and switched to custom ROM, S3 would crash more oftenly than it would work, compared that to WP, Lumia 800 I owned and 920 (I tried for few days) never crashed or suffered performance degradation.

On BB:

From what I've seen so far, they are not bringing anything revolutionary to the table, and at best they can hope to keep their fan base.

Arris Arris said:

I think they would have been better doing BB only apps for Android and then their own overlay (like HTC sense and Touchwiz). I'm sure they could have integrated Android 'blackberry' phones into their messaging system.

T77 T77 said:

The z10 and the htc butterfly have as much ram as my pc! But atleast I can take solace in the fact that my pc's graphics power is superior.

cmbjive said:

If this were the phone that came out instead of the Storm I would still be a happy Blackberry customer. Alas, the Storm did come out, I bought it, I hated it and immediately switched to the Droid X when my contract expired.

I hope this new Blackberry phone works for Blackberry but I've since become a convert to Android.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I think they leave bezel areas at top and bottom for something to hold on to when using the device in landscape format. Otherwise you are covering the screen when holding it. I too wanted nothing but screen but I couldn't argue with the "handle" logic.

While I can see that, holding the phone in a 'handle' fashion is silly. The forces on the phone (gravity) mean that the only time 'handles' are a good option is if you're looking at it from top-down.

People hold phones by the edges. Causes less slips too.

nubwaxer nubwaxer said:

I'll bet they have modest success with these devices because they have comparable specs to most of the other high end smartphones and because many people know how well blackberries work and they are not the kind of people overly worried about apps. I'd bet 10 bucks they'll do okay.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Actually, I've been meaning to ask - what is the experience with getting a new BB phone? Here in Australia, our biggest telco's business area has no freaking idea wtf a BB is, or how to configure it's services. I spent hours on the phone with support getting them to activate the BB account and link it to the phone data account.. I knew more than they did.

Other phones are a lot easier! Sim in, go!

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.