Technology Brief: Blackberry 10

On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, the company formerly known as RIM renamed and rebranded itself as BlackBerry, with the tagline "One Brand. One Promise." At the same presentation, BlackBerry announced its new smartphones, the Z10 and Q10, running on the new BlackBerry 10 OS (BB10) operating system (first announced in May 2012).

Blackberry Z10The Z10 is BlackBerry's new flagship device and eschews the classic BlackBerry physical keyboard for full touchscreen input. These smartphones are significant releases for BlackBerry: between the Z10 and the related (and physically keyboard equipped) Q10, these devices must be successful for BlackBerry to remain relevant in the US market.

BlackBerry 10, a top-to-bottom revamp of the BlackBerry OS with a completely new look featuring swipe gestures. Key features of BB10 are:

  • Phone notifications displayed by "Peeking" at the Hub, a notification tray along the left edge of the screen
  • A new "smart" keyboard with predictive typing that places word predictions next to the first letter of the word and inserts them by swiping up on that letter
  • BlackBerry Messenger now includes voice, video chat, and screen sharing
  • BlackBerry World, their proprietary app store, offers over 70,000 apps at launch due in large part to an Android to BlackBerry conversion utility

The Z10 features a full touch 4.2-inch screen (with 356 PPI), a dual-core Qualcomm processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage (with MicroSD for up to 32 GB of expansion), and a removable battery. The Z10 is currently available from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

The Q10, with a form factor familiar to BlackBerry users, sports a 3.1-inch square screen (328 PPI), traditional (for BlackBerry) physical keyboard, dual core processor, and 2 GB RAM. The Q10 is currently available from AT&T and Verizon, and is expected from Sprint in late August.

Testing

Information Systems & Computing (ISC) has tested Q10 and Z10 connectivity with Exchange 2010 and Zimbra 6. Both connect without issue using Exchange ActiveSync, though Exchange AutoDiscover currently does not function. There are no plans to support next generation BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 10 servers at any organization at Penn, so ActiveSync must be used to connect to email/groupware accounts and for individual device management, making the Blackberry experience more like that of iOS, Android, or Windows Phone. Due to the lack of the new BES 10 servers, BlackBerry Balance, the dual persona on-device service, will not be available to Penn users for the foreseeable future.

The Z10 also connects to AirPennNet - a first for a BlackBerry smartphone - though it does not yet work through XpressConnect, so the device must be configured manually. The AirPennNet setup, however, is straightforward; documentation is available here. The Q10 works equivalently with Penn groupware and wireless services.

--Ted Moskalenko, Michael McLaughlin, John Mulhern III, and Vern Yoneyama, ISC Technology Support Services (March 21, 2013, updated August 8, 2013)

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Date Posted: May 25, 2013 Tags: Mobile, BlackBerry, Review, New and Noteworthy

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