Fighting back

BlackBerry aims to reclaim former glory

PETER DOCKRILL

The BlackBerry story is one of the more dramatic rise-and-fall tech sagas of recent times. After essentially owning the smartphone market for a considerable portion of the last decade with its keyboard-toting devices, the introduction of the touchscreen iPhone in 2007 transformed the industry. It made smartphones fashionable and accessible to the mainstream for the first time, and led to a long, slow decline in the global strength of the more business-centric BlackBerry (although the brand is still popular in a number of countries, especially parts of Asia).

BlackBerry started its turnaround in early 2012 with new CEO Thorsten Heins steering the development of the impressive new software platform, BlackBerry 10.

Making its debut with the sexy touch-only BlackBerry Z10, and soon to feature on the BlackBerry Q10 (with the classic BlackBerry keyboard), BlackBerry 10 marks a bold new chapter in the company’s story. Will it be enough to save BlackBerry?

What is it? BlackBerry Z10

How much? Available on plans from Telstra and Optus, plus outright from $730.

Pros: The all-touch Z10 doesn’t look too dissimilar to the iPhone, but a number of clever software features set it apart from iOS. An amazing keyboard predicts words as you type. “Peek and flow” enables swift and seamless multitasking, a snazzy “time-shift” camera ensures nobody blinks.

Cons: The biggest drawback? Apps. So far a lot of the big-name drawcards are still missing.

au.blackberry.com

What is it? BlackBerry Q10

How much? Pricing and availability not yet confirmed.

Pros: If you’re a QWERTY diehard and must have a tactile keyboard, the Q10 is for you. It physically resembles the BlackBerry Bold of yesteryear but with a fully updated BB 10 feature set (and no trackpad or rollerball, as the screen above the keyboard is still touch-sensitive).

Cons: While you do get the BlackBerry 10 software, you get a significantly smaller square-ratio display. No confirmed release date as yet.

au.blackberry.com

What is it? BlackBerry updates for OS 5, 6, 7

How much? Free updates for current BlackBerry users

Pros: While BlackBerry is mostly focused on BB 10 these days, it’s still been busy upgrading BlackBerry 7 (and previous versions) for current users, most notably adding voice chat to BlackBerry Messenger with BBM Voice, plus other cool stuff.

Cons: The new BlackBerry 10 platform is the future. Former BlackBerry OS (versions 7 and prior) are unlikely to receive significant development.

au.blackberry.com

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