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.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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

    Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache, MySQL, Moodle)

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior .NET Web Developer - Winform / MVC

    £21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Java Developer

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Java Developer is requ...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015