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The BlackBerry Z10 is the first phone to market with the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, and it is easily the most desirable BlackBerry device ever made.
This is a full touchscreen handset with a high resolution 4.2" 768 x 1280 pixel display, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, an 8 megapixel primary camera (with 1080p video recording) and a 2 megapixel one on the front for video calling which supports 720p recording. Other features include a microSD slot, NFC support and LTE 4G on certain networks. WiFi, 3.5G and GPS are all included, of course, and there is also a microHDMI port which should make good use of the Z10's multimedia capabilities. The BlackBerry Z10 also supports Bluetooth 4.0 with low-power capabilities to help preserve the battery life. But although the hardware looks pretty good, what sets the BlackBerry Z10 apart is the operating system.
Let's be blunt here - the previous generations of BlackBerry operating systems were truly horrible. BlackBerry devices simply could not compete with modern Android, iOS and Windows handsets when it came to usability, and repeated attempts to pretty up the operating system could not disguise the decade-old mess underneath.
BlackBerry 10 is very different from previous versions of the BlackBerry operating system. Underneath it is running the very stable and fast QNX OS with a completely new user interface on the top. One main area of improvement is data integration - BlackBerry 10 keeps a close track of all interactions with contacts and puts them in one place, and it also builds up a profile of your contacts from all the social network sites you co-exist on.. this "all in one place" philosophy applies to several other applications too, and it seems to be a much more sophisticated level of integration than anything else we have seen.
The second major area of improvement is the way that BlackBerry 10 handles swipes - swipe left to right to peek at your mail, pull down the screen to see your calendar, move running applications around the screen and change the behaviour of the keyboard, all through different actions. Another clever feature is the way that BlackBerry 10 can support both "home" and "business" environments, giving corporate administrators access rights to look after the company side while keeping personal data private and logically separate.
Overall, the user interface is much more modern looking and flexible than Android or iOS, but it isn't as harsh and minimalist as Windows Phone 8. And it is nothing at all like the dated interface of old BlackBerry devices.. to the extent that BlackBerry fans might find the Z10 a bit of a culture shock.
BlackBerry say that there are 1,000 "top applications" available at launch, including Skype, Whatsapp, Angry Birds and many more. There are also thousands of other applications, although we hope that they are better than the cruddy ones that older BlackBerries were offered. The BlackBerry World app store also has access to a large collection of music and movies, all of which should play very nicely on this powerful device.
The BlackBerry Z10 is an attractive and very sleek looking smartphone, available in black or white colours. Inside is a 1800mAh removable battery and the BlackBerry Z10 weighs 135 grams and measures 130 x 66 x 9mm. There will be both a GSM/UMTS/LTE version and a CDMA/EVDO/LTE version, and the BlackBerry Z10 will be available very widely worldwide. The pricing for the Z10 has not been confirmed, but rumours indicate that the SIM-free price will be around £480, €560 or $760.
Undoubtedly, the Z10 is massively better than anything that RIM.. err, BlackBerry have produced before. Whether or not it is good enough to succeed is something that only the market will be able to tell.
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