The company formerly known as Research in Motion has unveiled the BlackBerry 10 operating system and two new phones, the Q10 and Z10, that run on it. Before RIM CEO Thorsten Heins debuted the new gadgets in New York on Wednesday morning, he made a different kind of big announcement: RIM no longer exists. From now on the company that makes BlackBerry phones will go by BlackBerry, likely because Research in Motion had almost zero brand recognition. And with that new brand, BlackBerry has a new OS and gadgets to help bring the brand back to relevance in a hail-mary move to catch up with the competition. Below, what BlackBerry announced today. (Plus: The reviews are in, and did we mention that this event was pretty weird?)
The BlackBerry 10 OS
The hardware isn't what will save BlackBerry — it needs apps and software that will lure back customers.
Apps: BlackBerry claims it already has 70,000 apps in its store, including Facebook, Skype, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, What's App, a bunch of games (like Angry Birds), and news apps. It does not, however, have Instagram, showing it might have a problem drawing the coolest, newest apps.
BBM: Another hallmark of BlackBerry got a face-lift today, too. The once-popular messaging service now has video chat, voice calls, and screen sharing, basically making it a competitor to that whole iChat/Facetime thing that Apple has going on.
The BlackBerry Z10
Features: This is the company's first full-feature touch smartphone. On the inside, it has a 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (microSD storage up to a 32GB card), NFC, and LTE. On the outside, it looks a lot like the iPhone or Samsung smartphones out there, with its 4.2 inch, 356PPI screen. It's nothing too crazy, but it looks classy and sleek. The Z10 has all the standard features of phones these days, including two cameras.
The OS has people excited, though, because of its gesture controls. The homescreen shows all the apps running at that time, not just all the apps ever. And people can swipe between them. Another big draw is the hub, which works like a notification center. But, unlike on an iPhone or Android phones, it's integrated into the homescreen, not just a side feature. Everything from Facebook to Twitter shows up there, making it really easy to use with just one hand—a big sell for the company, which won so many fans with another hand-compatible features.
Even with the Z10, BlackBerry has tried to maintain some of its longstanding dominance on, well, typing. It doesn't have the touch keyboard that everyone's loved for years, but the new phone has easier autocomplete function, using swiping — instead of tapping — to finish a word. It also allows for swiping-word deletion. That basically removes two whole taps from a lot of words. BlackBerry texters will no doubt be the fastest in the land.
Price: $599, without a contract, suggests RIM. It will sell for around $150 with a two-year contract... in Canada. All four of the big U.S. carriers will eventually sell the phone. But so far, the Z10 will run on AT&T and Verizon, for $200 and a very long three-year contract.
The BlackBerry Q10
Features: This one still has that beloved keyboard, to keep BlackBerry's loyal customers happy, a smart move considering those people are what has kept BlackBerry alive. But the keyboard forced BlackBerry into offering a much smaller screen than the Z10, coming in at 3.1 inches and 330PPI. And people these days tend to like their big phone screens. The Q10 looks a lot like the Bold models, but unlike those old BlackBerry phones it runs the updated new OS, meaning it works just like the Z10, but with the tactile keys.
Original Post: This morning Research in Motion will unveil new phones and its first new smartphone operating system in a year and a half, the BlackBerry 10 — an update that RIM hopes will save it from gadget doom. Even if BlackBerry 10-compatible phones prove as incredible as the tech world expects, RIM will have to give consumers a lot more than a nice cellphone if it wants to gain cultural relevance again. The company is behind on both apps and carriers. Even if the two new phones coming out today have the total package, most people won't think BlackBerry when opting for their next smartphone. Then again, maybe BlackBerry will announce something super fresh today. We'll update this post with all the news and specs as soon as the press conference gets underway.