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Last Call For Blackberry? (Part 1)

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Can the one-time king of business mobile survive in the modern smartphone world?

It was once called the “CrackBerry”. Five years ago, a BlackBerry smartphone was a necessary accessory for anyone who hoped to be taken seriously in the business world. But Canada’s finest stuttered and stumbled after more advanced phones too k the stage, realizing too late the importance of touch, the value of apps, and the willingness of working people around the world to bring their own Androids and iPhones into the office.

The company now known as BlackBerry is betting the maple syrup farm on two new releases: the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, both running the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, both running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. They’re the fruit of years of acquisitions and study, a break from old software that aims to keep BlackBerry’s focus on messaging and communication. They show a lot of promise, but they may not be enough to bring the company back to leadership on the very smartphone world it helped create.

BlackBerry’s new touch-screen phone, the Z10, uses the innovative BlackBerry 10 OS, but is it enough to help reverse the company’s fortunes?

BlackBerry’s new touch-screen phone, the Z10, uses the innovative BlackBerry 10 OS, but is it enough to help reverse the company’s fortunes?

The phones

The flagship BlackBerry Z10 is a thoroughly modern smartphone with a thoroughly modern mobile OS. It’s attractive and well built, with a 4.2-inch 1,280-by-768 LCD that higher density than those of the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII, and a 2GB of RAM that ensure consistently good performance. Call quality is strong, and the speakerphone is excellent; there’s even moderately accurate (though not perfect) voice dictation. An 8-megapixel main camera and a front-facing 2MP camera with 720p video recording complete the picture.

Unfortunately, the Z10 doesn’t set itself dramatically apart from other leading slab-style smartphones. It’s another nice black slab. Even if the Z10 is competitive with the latest offerings from Apple, Google, and Microsoft, can it be competitive enough without a more distinctive approach? I’d have been more profoundly moved if the first BlackBerry 10 phone one of the spectacular hardware keyboards BlackBerry is famous for.

The flagship BlackBerry Z10 is a thoroughly modern smartphone with a thoroughly modern mobile OS

The flagship BlackBerry Z10 is a thoroughly modern smartphone with a thoroughly modern mobile OS

Not that you’ll have to wait long for one of those. I’ve spent some time with the “coming soon” BlackBerry Q10, which does have a hardware keyboard, and have been even more impressed with it than I was with the Z10. The Q10’s features parallel a lot of the Z10’s, but the phone feels just like a BlackBerry Bold, though it’s a little taller and wider and has a much larger screen. RIM gets to play with the fact that it isn’t entirely a one-handed device-you’re going to type with two hands, so you probably won’t have to reach all the way across its keyboard with one.

That keyboard is Bold-quality, too, with larger keys that make it even easier to type accurately. And the Q10 will support many, if not all, of the familiar BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts. If you start typing from any screen, it will start a universal search; if your typing becomes the name of a contact or an email address, it’ll start an email. Yes, this is more direct and effective than the Z10’s interface. It’s even quicker to get things done.

Phone comparison: The design of the BlackBerry Z10 makes it look a lot like other Samsung and Apple smartphones.

Phone comparison: The design of the BlackBerry Z10 makes it look a lot like other Samsung and Apple smartphones.

This could be either good or bad news, depending on whether BlackBerry wants to be known for its keyboard-equipped smartphones on 2013. Given its release schedule, it looks like BlackBerry would prefer to focus on the Z10. But because we’ve seen so many phones designed just like it, the understated Z10 could fade into the background and it wouldn’t be surprising if that has an impact on sales.

BlackBerry Z10 specs

·         Price: $199.99

·         Carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

·         Dimensions (HWD): 5.1 by 2.6 by 0.35 inches

·         Weight: 4.8 ounces

·         Screen Size: 4.2 inches

·         Screen Type: 1,280-by-768LCD

·         Screen Density: 356ppi

·         Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcoom Snapdragon S4

·         Storage: 16BG internal, up to 64GB micro card

·         Camera: 8MP rear, 2MP front

·         Video Capture: 1080p rear, 720p front

·         Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz)

·         Bluetooth: 4.0

·         NFC: Yes

·         4G LTE?: Yes

·         Battery: 1,800mAh

 

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