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The new BlackBerry cometh [the competition] 16

by Derek Kessler Wed, 30 Jan 2013 2:47 pm EST

The new BlackBerry cometh [the competition]

Today the fine folks from Waterloo unveiled the fruits of their most recent labors in the form of the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, both powered by the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Truth be told, there weren't many surprises this morning from The Company Formerly Known As Research In Motion™ (they're now calling themselves BlackBerry, by the way, like everybody else ever has been for a decade) thanks to the steady stream of leaks over the past, well, year.

The Z10 is BlackBerry's new 4.2-inch all-touch smartphone (and practically the same phone as was jammed inside a squared-off casing as the BlackBerry 10 Alpha developer devices), while the BlackBerry Q10 is the physical QWERTY keyboard with a square 3.2-inch screen entry. The former comes out tomorrow in the UK, next week in Canada, and in March for the United States, while the latter doesn't have a release date just yet.

Both the Z10 and Q10 look like solid pieces of hardware, but the real story is the new from-scratch operating system powering both: BlackBerry 10. Based off the QNX operating system that RIM purchased back in 2010 (which also powered the BlackBerry PlayBook), BlackBerry 10 offers a unique and gesture-driven take on the mobile operating system, though we're not certain it's going to catch on.

Unlike the PlayBook OS, which did a decent job at aping webOS's multitasking cards user interface, BlackBerry 10 instead lays out currently running apps in a two-by-four grid, allowing you to have up to eight apps running at once. Yeah, eight. Open a ninth and the last app drops off and you'll have to reopen it if you really want it. While that's frustrating, it's even more disappointing given that BlackBerry 10 allows these minimized app cards - err, sorry, they call them "frames" - to display secondary information instead of just a small preview (e.g. a weather app can show the current conditions). So if you want to keep the weather app there as a widget of sorts, be sure to open it up every eighth app.

To complicate matters further, dragging the multitasking grid to the right will reveal the "BlackBerry Hub" everything-goes-here messaging system, while swiping to the left goes to a traditional grid-of-icons app launcher. Much of the operating system is dependent on gestures. Turning on the devices is accomplished by swiping up from the bottom of the screen; dragging all the way up will turn on and unlock. There's no home button or gesture area, so dropping out of a running app happens with a swipe up from the bottom, and if you continue that drag to the right you can pull whatever's on the screen to the right and take a peek at the Hub. Convenient? Sure. But so is a notification drawer or dashboard, and that gives you an idea of what's going on (boom, icon at the bottom of the screen) instead of having to perform a deliberate gesture to see what that little red light is about.

Overall, BlackBerry 10 looks like a nice OS, and the Z10 and Q10 look like fine phones. With the exception of a few misses over the years (looking at you, BlackBerry Storm), hardware has always been where BlackBerry smartphones have excelled. Even the limited production run of the Dev Alpha devices felt great and solidly built. BlackBerry 10 has plenty of unique ideas, but like Ubuntu for Phones it might be missing hard on the discoverability side of the equation.

Luckily for BlackBerry they have a loyal and still relatively large customer base and long-standing excellent relationships with carriers worldwide. In fact, all four major US carriers have already committed to carrying the Z10, and a few have even spoken up about carrying the Q10 when it's eventually available. Too little too late, or enough to save BlackBerry from the dustbin of technological history? Well, that's up to you the potential customer to decide. For our part we're still holding out for an Open webOS smartphone, whether that comes form a manufacturer or homebrew porting efforts.

In related news: Alicia Keys has been named as BlackBerry's new Global Creative Director. That was a surprise.

16 Comments

The one with the physical keyboard looks like the Pixi

Not saying I like BBZ10 and BB10 but what exactly is it competing with? A 3 yr old webOS phone or the Open webOS on a Galaxy Nexus?

so you saying its no webos?

Not to be too picky, but in order for there to be "competition" dosen't there need to be a product????

I don't know how BB will do... i wish them well cause those phones and the OS looks good.

I will say this...

This is EXACTLY what Palm or HP should have done... a full sized slab plus a decent sized keyboarded version AT THE SAME TIME!

Not a tiny niche piece and not a fragile slider. If they had launched hardware like BB did, it would be a three horse race.

I agree 100%. The Blackberry Torch is what the first Pre should have been and then a full slab touch screen phone.

+1

Can' t they get that damn flashing red light to stay off? Maybe some black tape would help.

A serious question: How easy is it to place the text cursor in a desired spot in the middle of a paragraph? The Q10 needs a d-pad just like the Pre2 does.

Opt + drag, friend.

also sometimes its easier to just delete the whole word and re-type. I mean by the time you figure out what is wrong with the word you could have ret-typed it. And the great thing about webos is that one only has to place the cursor anywhere in the word to erase it unlike the pc

At first glance, I have to admire Blackberry's attempt to be creative (at least with parts of the new OS) while trying to be competitive with iOS and android. Sounds familiar, no?

As I look in to my crystal ball...these two phones that Blackberry are finally putting on the market should at least garner some support from the millions of current users and probably keep blackberry in the fight for 3rd place with Windows Phone. How long they'll survive like that is hard to predict at this point.

Two other items:

Its interesting to note that Blackberry's engineers found a way to use (emulate?) android so that these two new phones supposedly start off with over 70,000 apps. Sure would be great if that could be done for webOS!

Did anyone else catch this article:

http://blackberryrocks.com/2013/01/12/blackberry-10-lets-home/

Is(n't) the writer subtly referencing webOS in the 4th paragraph, 2nd sentence with his "Web Operating System" comment?

Indeed, I agree it sounds like he meant to say "webOS" but doesn't seem to know exactly what he's talking about.
To further that argument, he refers to "...having all the opened tabs that you visit frequently..."
I think he means "apps" and not "tabs" but who can say for sure.

I can't stop blaming HP when I see something that could've been webOS. That phone looks good but would've looked great if it has webos on it. Thanks but no thanks. I'll stay with my Pre 3

No offense, Derek, but wasn't that a bit harsh? It just seemed like bashing their new OS.

On other hand, though, I agree with some of your points. I don't care for the notification system since it makes more sense to me to see a preview of the message on a notification bar like webOS or Android does (can't say anything for iOS or WP as I've never owned either).

We're all a little jealous that Palm & HP couldn't put together a reinvention/push like RIM is doing, but I'm trying to be happy for the BlackBerry platform. I would still take my Pre 3 over either of those BB10 phones, but that's just my preference.

BlackBerry is doing exactly what HP should have done, putting it in all carriers at launch, and throwing money at advertising. They basically copied almost everything good from webOS. It also helps that the CEO is fully on board, and is focusing (read working with the highest priority) on BB10.

I am sorry folks, after using webOS since 2010 (first a palm pre plus, then a pre 2), I have purchased a blackberry z10. It's pretty comparable to webOS (real multi-tasking, developer options (C/C++, or webbased APIs), exchange support, VPN), but way faster, includes the Android Java runtime, and the browser is up to date with today's standards (see html5test.com). If any of you are looking for a worthy successor to webOS, bb10 is it.

I thought about buying a galaxy nexus and installing open webOS, but the maturity just was not there yet, and realistically, my 2 year bb10 contract will have expired before webOS is once again ready for modern day devices.

I love the community here, and I do miss preware on bb10, but at least you can side load apps, unlike iOS.

I wish all you webOS die hard fans all the best, and I hope to return when webOS is ready to take over the world!

That should've been HP