What to expect from BlackBerry 10 and the Z10

After a year in the wilderness, RIM is all set to come out all guns blazing with its latest operating system – BlackBerry 10, and a smartphone that will run the new OS, which is rumored to be the BlackBerry Z10.  For the last year we’ve had a pretty good idea what the OS has in store for us through numerous BlackBerry Jam events that have been held throughout the globe and the numerous ‘Dev Alpha’ devices RIM has handed out to developers. This allows us to paint a fairly clear picture on what to expect later in the day, from the guys from Waterloo. Read on to find out.

A Radically new user interface paradigm

Yes, that’s how RIM CEO Thorstein Heins puts it. And to some extent he is speaking the truth because currently on the market, there is nothing like BlackBerry 10. The OS is entirely dependent on a multitude of swipe gestures and the focus is on ‘One Thumb’ access. It’s a clean break from BlackBerry 7. It’s a beautiful and unique OS and from what we have seen, and is fluid too. Watch out for RIM’s demonstration of Flow, Balance, Peek and the intuitive keyboard at today’s launch event.

Having said this, the ideas found in the UI of BB10 are not entirely new. We have seen similar user interface principles in operating systems like MeeGo and WebOS, and we know how those platforms ended up like. It’s just not about having a new fresh platform, but the play should be around an ecosystem of applications and services. RIM is trying to remedy that situation by aggressively courting developers to develop apps for BB10, and by signing deals with content providers for a music store and also by revamping its hugely popular BlackBerry Messenger service. We will just need to wait and watch for this.

A new all touch, the BlackBerry Z10

The device we expect to be announced today is expected to be called the Z10. It will be an all touch BlackBerry, but those who are skeptical about an all-touch BlackBerry smartphone should know that RIM has done some plumbing on the software side and tweaked the virtual keyboard that it manages to provide a wildly faster touch-typing experience than other platforms. And at the end of the day that’s what matters to the end user. If the virtual keyboard is as fast as RIM says then it may be onto something because that’s a major reason for people not to opt for a touchscreen device. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the current BlackBerry smartphones are doing well in emerging markets like India. If this keyboard turns out to be not-so-hot then RIM could have a problem at its hands. That said, RIM will also launch a QWERTY BlackBerry smartphone, the X10 later this summer.

But for today it will be the Z10 that has been leaked all over the net over the past few months.  The hardware specifications are expected to be on the lines of what we have been seeing in the current crop of Windows Phone 8 smartphones. The BlackBerry Z10 is expected to have a 4.2-inch 720p display, a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, a 8-megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, microSD card support, a 1,800 mAh battery, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and NFC. Some markets will have LTE support.

Now there is no clarity over which chipset the device will use. For LTE markets a Qualcomm Snapdragon Plus chip is a given but for HSPA+ markets like India, RIM could slip in an TI OMAP 4470. Additionally, the camera on the Z10 is expected to be wildly better than any current BlackBerry smartphone. A few days ago, an image on Flickr emerged, claiming it to be shot from the BlackBerry Z10. If that image was anything to go by, then we can expect a solid imaging experience. To add to this, RIM had struck a deal with Scalado before it was acquired by Nokia for some photography tricks, so we can be sure that for the first time a BlackBerry smartphone will also offer a good camera experience, unlike earlier when the addition of a camera seemed to be an afterthought.

However, the thing to note is that in light of new Android smartphones like the HTC Butterfly, which was launched in India yesterday, the spec sheet of the Z10 does look a tad dated. Some will say that’s so very 2012, not 2013. Check out the expected specifications of the BlackBerry Z10.

  • Processor: Dual Core 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470・ Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 (US and Canada)
  • Radio: Quad Band HSPA+ / UMTS (850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz) ・Quad Band GSM / GPRS (850/900/1800MHz) ・Quad Band LTE: Bands 2,4,5,13,17 (700, 850,1700, 1900MHz)
  • Display: 4.2”, 4 point multi-touch LCD display, 1280 x 768 resolution at 356 DPI, Touch On Lens
  • Camera: 8MP rear facing camera, Auto Focus, 5x digital zoom, 1080p HD video recording ・2MP front facing camera, 3x digital zoom, 720p HD video recording
  • Memory: 2GB RAM ・16GB Internal Storage ・Hot Swappable microSD Slot
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n ・2.4/5GHz ・4G Mobile Hotspot
  • GPS: Assisted, Autonomous, and Simultaneous GPS
  • Battery: 1800mAh Removable ・Talk Time: up to 10 hours on 3G・Standby Time: up to 305 hours on 3G, up to 316 hours on 2G・Audio Playback: up to 60 hours・Video PlayBack: up to 11 hours
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Proximity, Gyroscope, Ambient light sensor
  • Connectivity: NFC ・microUSB ・microHDMI-Out ・Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
  • Size (LxWxD): 130mm x 65.6mm x 9mm

Image: CrackBerry.com