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.

ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

    SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power