BlackBerry has finally unleashed its Blackberry 10 operating system (OS), with the platform making its debut on the recently launched BlackBerry Z10 smartphone. After facing some tough times in 2012, BlackBerry has completely redesigned its OS to start 2013 afresh with a brand new approach.
The software is a lot different to previous BlackBerry operating systems and promises big things, but could this radical departure re-establish the company at the top of the mobile manufacturer game? We spent some time with the BlackBerry 10-toting BlackBerry Z10 to weigh up the pros and cons of BlackBerry's new operating system venture.
BlackBerry Z10 hardware:
The BlackBerry Z10 features a 4.2-inch full touchscreen display and is currently the only device released that sports the BlackBerry 10 software. The smartphone is highly superior to any previous BlackBerry handsets and looks sleek, sophisticated, and a little bit like the iPhone 5. The only criticism that could be mustered is that the plastic back casing feels a little cheap when it's removed, however, when it is secured in place it doesn't detract from the look or feel of the mobile.
The touchscreen BlackBerry Keyboard on BlackBerry 10 helps you to type faster and more accurately because it learns which letters you regularly mistype and then adjusts itself to make sure you hit the right key. Cool huh? The predictive text function is intuitive too, and suggested words will appear above the first letter of the word you are typing. These can then be easily 'flicked' into whatever you are typing on screen using an upward swipe gesture.
There's a feature called the BlackBerry Hub on BB10 that collects all message notifications in one place. Sounds good yes? Well get this - it can be accessed whilst you're using any feature of the phone without leaving that app. An upward and to the right swipe gesture pulls the hub screen out and allows you to 'peek' in to see if you have any new messages. BlackBerry has dubbed this BlackBerry Peek, and it lets you keep on top of all your messages whilst multitasking.
The Time Shift camera feature on the BlackBerry Z10 is really cool and helps you capture perfect pictures every time. Time Shift allows users to isolate sections of photos they have taken, and rewind and fast forward to milliseconds before and after the shutter button is pressed. This is handy if anyone in the photo has blinked because you can simply isolate their face and rewind until their eyes are open.
BBM video call with Screen Share
The BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messaging service has been upgraded so that you can now make video calls, and there is also a new feature called Screen Share on board. Screen Share allows you to share whatever is on your screen with the person you are video calling, whilst continuing the conversation. It could be an image, webpage, or anything else that you are looking at whilst chatting.
Flagship pricing At the moment BlackBerry 10 is only available on the BlackBerry Z10, which is a high-end flagship smartphone and carries an equally high price tag. A QWERTY BlackBerry has been announced too in the form of the BlackBerry Q10 but as this has not been released yet, so your only option is the BlackBerry Z10 if you want a slice of BlackBerry 10 action.
The BlackBerry Z10 uses gesture-based navigation that can be a little awkward if you're not familiar with it. It does take a bit of time to get to grips with if you're more used to Android or iOS devices, and if you're a lover of older QWERTY-fied BlackBerrys you may find it even more of a challenge.
No upgrades to BB10
Earlier BlackBerry devices can't be upgraded to BlackBerry 10, so if you were hoping to update your BlackBerry Bold 9900 to BB10 you're in for disappointment. Those who wish to use the new BlackBerry software will have to invest in new hardware. Sad face.
The BlackBerry Z10's 8 megapixel camera doesn't produce photos that are as good as those created by the likes of the Sony Xperia Z's 13 megapixel camera, or the HTC One's UltraPixel camera. Although Time Shift helps to get the correct expressions from all the people in photos, the images produced aren't as detailed and the camera doesn't perform as well in low-light conditions. When you compare it to the camera functionality on previous BlackBerry devices it's light years ahead, but there are other recently released mobiles with extremely advanced snappers that trump the BlackBerry Z10.
Lack of apps
BlackBerry pulled out all the stops before the release of BlackBerry 10, offering incentives to developers to create apps for the new BlackBerry World app store. Despite its efforts BlackBerry can't quite compete with the number and quality of apps provided by the likes of Apple's App Store and Google Play at present. However, we should point out that BlackBerry World did have the most apps of any new app store upon its launch, and the number is growing all the time.
Despite its slight faults, the BlackBerry Z10 is undoubtedly the best BlackBerry smartphone ever produced, and if anything is going to save the Canadian manufacturer, this handset could. To learn about the BlackBerry 10 operating system and the BlackBerry Z10, check out our hands-on video below:
This guest blog was written by Abbi Cox of Phones 4u, who offer great mobile phone deals including the Blackberry Z10 in white.