The first smartphones based on the BlackBerry 10 operating system have been met with a broadly positive response since their official launch yesterday.
At event in New York yesterday, at which Research in Motion also changed its name to BlackBerry, the Canadian company officially unveiled two new devices that use BB10. The Z10 smartphone features an ‘adaptive’ touchscreen keyboard, which learns what users type in order to make future suggestions. The Q10 smartphone pairs a smaller touch screen with a physical ‘QWERTY’ keyboard.
Both devices feature near-field communication (NFC), 1.5Ghz dual core processors with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and an expandable memory slotm and support LTE network services.
The devices were praised by Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson. "The new OS brings some very interesting and innovative features," Husson said in an email to Information Age. "The smart contextual prediction keyboard, the BlackBerry Hub, the BlackBerry Balance, as well as the new video chat and screen-sharing functionalities available to BBM users will also offer a seamless and innovative experience to the ‘business execs’, ‘working moms’, and ‘hyperactive teens’ that BlackBerry is targeting."
Ovum analyst Adam Leach said the devices will stand out in crowded smartphone market. "The Blackberry Z10 and Q10 will stand out from the Android masses and look distinct from Apple’s iPhone. The user experience of Blackberry 10 introduces some nice new features but importantly builds on Blackberry’s UI heritage and therefore will certainly appeal to existing Blackberry users.
The Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur wrote that the Balance feature, which splits the device into personal and work profiles, was BB10’s "hidden" USP. "It’s very neat, and for the properly paranoid corporate IT chiefs it will be the answer to a prayer," he wrote.
Not everyone was complimentary, however. The Wall Street Journal‘s gadget guru Walt Mossberg criticised the lack of built-in cloud system for syncing or storing data, akin to Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, or Microsoft’s Skydrive. Mossberg also highlighted the lack of a native printing function, which may prove problematic for business users.
Meanwhile, Ovum questioned whether the devices would be enough to rescue BlackBerry’s business. "Ovum believes that despite a well-designed Blackberry 10 platform, that will certainly attract short-term interest from existing users the company will struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market."