At a splashy press event in Manhattan on Wednesday, chief executive Thorsten Heins introduced as expected the next generation of BlackBerry smartphones.
Thorsten Heins also announced that RIM was abandoning the name it has used since its inception in 1985 to take the name of its signature product, signaling his hopes for a fresh start for the company that pioneered on-your-hip email.
“From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry,” Heins said at the New York launch. “It is one brand; it is one promise.”
Indeed, it was a day of new beginnings for RIM as the embattled BlackBerry maker attempts to sweep clear the last vestiges of its tarnished recent history and strikes out anew to re-establish itself as a serious player on the global smartphone stage.
On large video screens inside the keynote, the company plastered the slogan: “Re-designed. Re-engineered. Re-invented.”
“We have definitely been on a journey of transformation,” Mr. Heins said during his keynote address to several hundred media and corporate partners.
The new BlackBerry 10 phones will compete with Apple’s iPhone and devices using Google’s Android technology, both of which have soared above the BlackBerry in a competitive market.
The Z10 is a touchscreen device, while the Q10 retains the famous keyboard that has built much of BlackBerry’s growth.
A Q10 model equipped with small “qwerty” keyboard that RIM made into its trademark, will launch globally in April.
At the heart of both of the devices is a new operating system, called BlackBerry 10, which combines a work persona with a personal mobile into a single device. BB10 also combines all emails, social networks, messages and other communications into a single inbox.
The BlackBerry Z10 has a 4.2-inch screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 768, or 356 pixels per inch (ppi). It actually makes it sharper than the iPhone 5, whose “retina” display is 326 ppi.
The phone is 0.35 inch thin, and it weighs 4.78 ounces. It’s powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. Built-in memory is 16GB, but users can install a microSD card to expand storage by up to 64GB.
Among wireless connectivity a user may find: dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and near-field communication for instant pairing with NFC accessories and mobile payments. It supports both 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks as well as global roaming.
There’s an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2MP front-facing model. The cameras are equipped with a feature called Time Shift, which allows the user to “go back in time” on a specific person’s face in any given shot, finding the moment where, say, they didn’t blink.
Battery last for about 10 hours of talk time (on 3G) and up to 305 hours on standby (again on 3G). Video playback is up to 11 hours, writes Mashable.
In the eyes of analysts, BB10 “will appeal to the faithful”. As Ben Wood from CCS Insight says, however, “challenges remain”. Wood says BlackBerry must “swiftly sharpen” what it offers, reports the Telegraph.
According to the Reuters, announcements about pricing so far have been in line with expectations. U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless said the phone would cost $199 for a two-year contract, while Canada’s Rogers Communications is quoting C$149 ($150) for certain three-year plans.