Well, it’s finally here. The last throw of the dice by the company formally known as Research in Motion (RIM).
Now known simply as BlackBerry, the developer of the aforementioned phones is back after a bit of a hiatus from the smartphone market with one last chance at capturing relevance.
That chance comes in the form of two phones, the all-touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 and the QWERTY keyboard Q10. While the Q10 has yet to be released, the Z10 came out earlier this week and has so far been met with pretty decent reviews.
While nobody is proclaiming the latest and greatest BlackBerry device as a game-changer in any way, reviewers are saying the device is a solid entry into the current market, offering many of the same experiences loved by others on the top devices.
And it’s there that perhaps BlackBerry may see the biggest payoff. Instead of investing all of their time, money and effort into trying to do something completely radical and hoping it might stick, playing it safe with a product that offers people exactly what they already want, albeit in a new form factor, is likely the best way to go about ensuring their survival — for the time being.
Honestly, looking at how far smartphones have come in the past few years, there isn’t a whole lot else that can be done to truly innovate on current devices. Short of providing 3D screens or tactile touchscreens, smartphones have come to a point where the only differences we’re seeing are subtle increases in camera quality, thinness and of course, screen size.
So what makes BlackBerry so special? Well BlackBerry’s operating systems have always been a strong point for users and for those not so hot on Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS, the new BlackBerry could offer a solid alternative.
Running the newly designed, much-talked about BlackBerry 10 OS, the Z10’s interface, has been described as a unique marriage of all the things iPhone and Android users loves while still maintaining a distinctly BlackBerry feel.
One of the key features is BlackBerry Hub, which combines all forms of communication, (texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, BBM) into one handy application, minimizing the processing power spent having several apps open instead.
Another new feature is BlackBerry’s Screen Share mode, which is video chat with a twist. While you can do the simple face-to-face video chat similar to other devices, Screen Share lets your contact see your phone’s actual screen, which may come in handy if you want to quickly show them a photo, email or video without having to send it their way.
One of the problems BlackBerry has always had was the serious lack of applications available by third-party developers and if there’s to be any downfall to BlackBerry 10, it’s that. While Facebook and Twitter are available on the BlackBerry store, others such as Netflix, Instagram and and Spotify are missing.
Finally, while the Z10 does look to be a decent device with hardware that rivals that of the current top phones out there in terms of screen size, thinness and processing power, the real test will be user adoption rates. BlackBerry phones are only as useful as their user base and if it doesn’t gain the numbers needed, how useful is BBM or Screen Share going to be if you can’t actually message any of your friends because they have different phones?