BlackBerry 10: A show-stopping debut for a new operating system and handset

BlackBerry has a key advantage. It makes both hardware and software – only Apple matches this – so it can ensure that everything works together perfectly.

Hear that whooshing noise? It's the sound of countless IT directors punching the air. BlackBerry 10 is here. After long months of anticipation, BlackBerry is back in business, it hopes.

The company’s problems began when BYOD became fashionable. If you don’t know this abbreviation, BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. This refers to the phenomenon where staff lobbied their employers to be allowed to use their own iPhone or Samsung Galaxy III, say, for work. The bean counters cheered – we don’t have to buy our staff BlackBerry handsets any more, they thought – but Chief Information Officers reeled as they realised the security implications. BlackBerry may not have had the sexiest operating system or endless apps, but the security was exceptional. Now companies found themselves supporting lots of different smartphones and tablets.

So part of the intention of BlackBerry 10 and the new Z10 handset which went on sale within hours of the launch is to win back those people who deserted for Apple and Android.

BlackBerry has a key advantage. It makes both hardware and software – only Apple matches this – so it can ensure that everything works together perfectly. It means design of hardware and software are sympathetic and well-integrated.

The design of the Z10 makes clear it is a consumer phone. It even looks a bit like a bigger iPhone 5 with its flat back and front and curved corners. The screen is a little bigger – 4.2ins – and the resolution is noticeably higher than Apple’s Retina display. It looks pin-sharp and detailed. Especially good for video.

Although it’s big, it feels good in the hand and is easy to use. There’s no home button as there is on the iPhone. To wake the screen, you don’t need to press a power button. With BlackBerry 10, it’s all about gesture. Swipe up the screen to wake it – it feels more intimate and satisfying than other systems.

Once awake, it is noticeably different software from rivals – which may mean would-be purchasers trying it briefly instore find it too unfamiliar. There’s definitely a learning curve here, but after a relatively brief period of uncertainty I found it intuitive and straightforward.

Key to this is the Hub, a place where you can find all the latest emails alongside your calendar appointments, Facebook messages, Twitter mentions and LinkedIn notifications. Wherever you are on the phone, whatever you’re doing, the Hub is always there, just out of sight. Swipe up and to the right and the Hub appears, even if you’re playing video, say. Check if there is anything you need to see and if not swipe back to your video. The key difference from Apple, say, is that you don’t need to leave the app you’re using to Peek (as BlackBerry calls it) at the Hub.

BlackBerry is strong on multi-tasking – there’s no home screen in the recognised sense but there’s a screen which shows active apps. And its skill with multiple apps running simultaneously. It showed this on its severely underrated tablet, the PlayBook.

BlackBerry Balance is a key feature if you’re a business user on the Enterprise service. It effectively divides your phone in two, so you can’t mix work and personal information. If you’re in personal mode you can’t even see your work emails, let alone accidentally copy business-critical information into a personal message or Facebook. Those IT directors will cheer for this, too.

But the success of the Z10 will largely rest on winning back those customers who fled for the gorgeous hardware and exceptional user interface of the iPhone or fancied the range of phones running Android. The task is tougher here, though at least BlackBerry has 70,000 apps available on day one. This is a remarkable achievement and is many ways is enough to be going on with. Apple and Android have over 700,000 apps each, but the number of jewels is much lower. Even so, there are gaps among those available despite the presence of popular names like Skype and Angry Birds.

The camera is a crowd-pleaser. The 8MP sensor is efficient and there are features like TimeShift. This is clever. It shoots multiple images quickly and saves them all. Then you can mix and match elements from different shots to create the best result. So if one person’s blinking in the first shot and another looks best in the fourth, you can make this work.

It’s great. But is it enough? We’ll know in a few months, when BlackBery has released its second handset with a physical QWERTY keyboard to appeal to BlackBerry loyalists (though the virtual keyboard here is spectacularly good with suggestions of the next word as you finish the last one).

Meantime, this is a show-stopping debut for a new operating system and handset.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Programmer & IT Systems Technician

    £8000 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity ...

    Recruitment Genius: 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

    £17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity is now ...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you familiar with the sayin...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most