New smartphones from the company formerly known as RIM are the first to run its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. They won't go on sale in the U.S. until March.
Research In Motion re-launched not only its smartphone business Wednesday, but its entire company.
First, Research In Motion will no longer be known as RIM. It has rebranded its company name to "BlackBerry," the same as its marquee smartphones. This change has been a long time coming, and will help RIM ... nee, BlackBerry unify its branding around the world.
BlackBerry announced two new smartphones, the Z10 and the Q10. Both devices run BlackBerry 10, its new mobile operating system. As BlackBerry has said many times, the Z10 is an all-touch device and the Q10 is a QWERTY keyboard device.
The two devices share most specs and features, which include dual-core 1.5-GHz processors with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of built-in storage. They each include an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture. The camera application includes a new feature called TimeShift, which lets users select from a range of photos to get the best one. The Z10 and Q10 also include user-facing 2-megapixel cameras that can record 720p HD video.
The devices will support NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, but BlackBerry was quiet on what cellular networks the devices would support. Given the large number of carriers rolling out the new platform, it is safe to assume 4G support is included.
The Z10 has a 4.2-inch LCD screen with 1280 x 768 pixels, making it capable of displaying HD content. The Q10 has a physical QWERTY keyboard and a smaller touchscreen that has 720 x 720 pixels.
Both devices have BlackBerry 10, which is a completely revised operating system. It uses gesture-based actions to move from screen to screen and the BlackBerry Hub, which brings together all communications avenues into a single master inbox. The operating system has a new HTML5 browser, Story Maker for creating videos and business-friendly features such as BlackBerry Safeguard and Balance.
The new BlackBerry Messenger application for BB10 includes the same IM features as before, but is now able to conduct free two-way video chats and VoIP-based phone calls. The app can also be used to share screens between two BB10 devices.
The devices will have access to a wide range of apps and content from the new BlackBerry World store, which is available online and directly from BlackBerry devices. BlackBerry has signed on some important brands, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, WhatsApp and The Weather Channel.
As far as availability is concerned, the Z10 will be sold by all four major U.S. carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. Only Verizon has announced pricing; it will charge $199 for the Z10 with a new two-year contract. Neither device will be available in the United States until the middle of March, though they'll reach the United Kingdom on January 31 and Canada on February 1.
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