BlackBerry 10 launch liveblog: full-touch Z10 and QWERTY Q10 shipping this week in UK and Europe

Screenshot 2013-01-30 at 12.27.04

It’s been a long time coming, but today is the day that RIM steps into the future as they prepare to unveil their new – and heavily delayed – BlackBerry 10 platform and devices. Rumour has it that we will see two devices today – one with RIM’s iconic QWERTY keyboard and one with just touch input – and further leaks suggest that we could even see devices on store shelves within the next 24 hours. Whether or not this turns out to be the case, RIM’s New York launch event starts at 10am ET/3pm GMT, and we will be blogging it live on this very page. Join us then to find out what RIM’s been working on.

All times are in GMT
This event has now finished

14:58 Let’s go!

15:00 Things seem a bit late starting, but the live stream is available here.

15:01 The apps seem to be popping up already. Here’s evidence.

15:04 According to TechnoBuffalo, the Z10 is already in Phones4U. We’ll be hunting it down tomorrow.

15:06 Things are kicking off! They flashed up the already-announced software stuff and now a broadcasting guy is showing global launches.

15:08 Now they’re showing business people (including EE’s Olaf Swantee) talking about what they love about BB10.

15:09 What seems evident is that carriers and businessmen love BB10, but will consumers?

15:10 I love rhetoric questions.

15:10 Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations (and this guy) says there are no devs in Antarctica. I need to prove him wrong.

15:13 “Honk if you want BlackBerry 10!” says this guy.

15:13 Now there’s a guy who made a song called No Sleep ‘Til BlackBerry 10. I kid you not.

15:14 Now random guy is talking to CrackBerry Kevin, the guy who said he wouldn’t cut his hair until the launch.

15:15 THEY ARE CUTTING KEVIN’S PONYTAIL.

15:16 Here’s Thorsten Heins, sounding German.

15:18 “Innovation is at the heart of RIM. Now finally, here we are!” Thorsten gets applause.

15:19 They keep saying BlackBerry 10 is here, but they’re not actually doing anything.

15:20 Are you hyper-connected socially? BB10 is for you!

15:21 It is ‘built to keep you moving’.

15:23 We can confirm Thorsten did just say ‘internet of things’.

15:23 Thorsten’s thanking the QNX guys, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.

15:26 RIM is killing the RIM name. RIM is now BlackBerry, making the BlackBerry. Finally they are making sense.

15:28 BlackBerry’s new stock symbols are BBRY and BB.

15:29 NEW PHONES. Z10 and Q10.

15:29 The Z10 has a 356ppi 1280 x 768 4.2″ screen with a textured surface for comfort.

15:31 The Q10 has a physical keyboard. That’s literally it.

15:32 It does, however, have a glass weave cover. Nobody knows what that is, but it sounds weavy.

15:34 Some guy called Vivek is showing off the Flow multitasking and Peek notifications while watching a video of a German car.

15:37 Vivek and Thorsten are making vacation jokes in the Hub (the one with the notifications).

15:38 BB10 can link contacts together automagically, just like every other platform in the world.

15:38 Thorsten is literally clapping louder than the entire audience.

15:40 The new prediction-heavy keyboard looks cool, and is modelled on the BB QWERTY.

15:41 The default email signature seems to be “Sent from my new BlackBerry Z10”. UGH. I WILL NOT READ YOUR EMAILS WITH THAT KIND OF ADVERNATURE.

15:43 Balance lets you have work and personal profiles. Thorsten’s talking about the boring business security stuff.

15:56 We’re back! WordPress decided to do some server maintenance. Here’s what we missed.

15:56 And camera stuff, new third party apps (70k total) and Story Maker. STORIES.

15:58 The review embargo has been lifted. Here’s Joshua Topolsky’s.

16:02 Over 1k top apps are on BB10. Massive punch aimed at Microsoft.

16:03 There’s Rdio, SoundHound, EA, social stuff and other stuff, but no sign of Spotify. Dealbreaker for many.

16:06 You can also get movies, TV and music from BlackBerry World.

16:07 Insert generically intensely soundtracked content advertising video here.

16:08 All four US carriers are getting these. Insert Thorsten clap.

16:09 The Z10 is available tomorrow in the UK in basically every store. I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

16:10 Chemistry, that is. Might find the phone after.

16:10 Another big announcement from Thorsten is impending!

16:11 “We’ve created a new positiion at BlackBerry. A Global Creative Director!

16:12 It’s Alicia Keys.

16:15 Thorsten Heins is officially freakishly tall. Either that or all his employees are diminutive.

16:16 Alicia wants to “bridge the gap between the work phone and the play phone”.

16:17 Her job is to persuade Neil Gaiman to use BB10. There’s a video on it.

16:20 It seems Alicia is starting in the office on Monday. Nice few days off.

16:20 Thorsten’s wrapping things up, so I will too. Thanks for joining us!

16:21 The press get a Q&A session, but I get to go and eat some crisps now. I’ll be getting some hands-on time tomorrow.

16:21 See you next time!

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Why I love my BlackBerry

There are many aspects about BlackBerry devices which this site has constantly reminded us are negative, but I, as a Curve owner, love my phone. Now I will try to defend this marvelous piece of technology.

Admittedly there are some things about the BlackBerry which are not up to scratch e.g. the constant crashes and crappy cameras, but also things are also very well done e.g. the hardware QWERTY keyboards. This is not a phone built for gaming so, if that is what you have had in mind for your phone, do not buy a BlackBerry. The BB has a wide range of apps that are useful for many things but not that many games can be found in the App World so, like I say, consider every aspect before you run into buying a phone which you will later regret. It is a lot more about socialising and business ventures because it is easy to send and receive e-mails and to surf the web while on the go.

One of the key features of BB is BlackBerry Messenger (or BBM). This proprietary service is great for contacting your friends. There are many apps out there which are available cross-platform but these are not as recognisable as BBM and also can be slightly confusing and hard to use if you do not know what you are doing from the beginning. I have broken many a phone having not known how to work the phone as a whole or just a certain aspect of it and this is unacceptable for non-technically-minded people.

If you get a Curve, BlackBerry phones can be very inexpensive. These cost next to nothing compared to iPhones and some Windows Phones which can cost ridiculous amounts of money. There is no need at all to spend £500 on a phone, excluding the newest models and especially the sexy PorscheBerry. The “click… click… click…” noise that Hannah complained about last week does not annoy me and can be easily avoided. and and the buttons on the qwerty keyboard is just the right size for people with normal sized hands. It is the right size to fit in most pockets and is also very easy to use and very straight forward.

Teenagers enjoy their BlackBerries for many different reasons, mainly because they look stylish and are cool. Everybody who is anybody in a secondary school either has a BB or has owned one. It has become a necessary accessory for those who wish to become cool. Saying this, I also recognise that RIM will have to pull their fingers out of their arses in order to stay alive and remain a major player in the smartphone market. There is a lot to be improved and fashions change but, at the moment BlackBerries are in and, like it or not, I don’t see desire for them fading anytime soon so get used to it.

Why do teenagers love BlackBerry devices?

Among teenagers, BlackBerry smartphones are all the hype at the moment, but I genuinely can’t help but ask myself why. While most people can see that RIM is on a knife edge and need to make drastic changes to survive, our demographic seems to be addicted to the Canadian QWERTY phones, with their outdated operating systems and poor user experiences. Why is this?

In my opinions BlackBerry phones (and PlayBooks) really aren’t great. People say that the BBM way of communicating is their favourite thing about the phones world, but this service ties you down to communicating with other BB users. Why not just download a cross-platform thing like WhatsApp? Then you will be able to communicate for free with people that have other phones too, such as Androids, iPhones and Windows Phones.

The performance of BlackBerry phones is often absolutely appalling, usually due to the outdated hardware, and my friends that have them are always complaining about how they crash far too regularly to be considered reliable. The camera quality is in a completely different league to other phones, and not in a good way. You cannot compare the quality with that of Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Apple cameras as it is just far too poor. The video quality is equally awful, almost embarrassing to watch once blown up to a decent size. The keys on the phone are small and hard to use at times.

Also (personal rant here) have you ever tried sharing a room with a BlackBerry user? When you’re trying to sleep at night and all you can hear is “click… click… click…” People claim that the keypad on the BlackBerry Bold doesn’t click, which for the record, is a lie. When the room is silent at night you can, and I repeat can, hear it. Now you may be thinking of a counter argument to do with the all-touch Torch and similar models due to the fact that they have software keyboards, however the touch panels are quite frankly of a severely sub-standard quality. In some of the older models the screen clicks as if it’s a button when you touch it. Resistive touch-screens do not deserve a place in this world.

BlackBerry devices are good as business phones due to the security and relative efficiency of the push email services, however as a phone for the youth, they are quite simply abysmal in my opinion. Much better alternatives are available at a wide array of price points, but BB diehards seem oblivious to this fact. I just wish that more people would think the same as me.

The Poll: Will RIM exist in 2013?

Last time, we asked who actually uses Google+. We had a remarkable 50/50 split in the results with all who responded having a knowledge of the service.

Today, spurred on by their Biggest Flop award and our general hatred of them, we ask if Research In Motion, the failing makers of BlackBerry devices, will still exist this time next year.

Technophobia: Why you shouldn’t buy a CrackBerry

Technophobia is a column by James Hardy. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

In spring this year, I bought a new phone. I’d looked around for a while for the best deal. As it turned out, I got a pretty decent one. Free phone plus £12 pounds per month, 1GB of internet, around 100 minutes and some (but not enough) texts with a 24 month contract on Virgin. I had a choice between a BlackBerry Curve 8520 and a HTC Wildfire S. I went for the BlackBerry. Not a good decision.

For starters, it turns out Virgin are a bunch of wankers. Over the summer, I went on holiday abroad. For this, I rang Virgin up and got them to turn my internet off so when I returned I didn’t have a phone bill which was in the squillions. After numerous phone calls, this went OK. When I got back, I rang them back up to get them to switch it back on. Two weeks later, nothing had happened. Many hours of frustrating phone calls to some call centre in Uzbekistan later, I finally got through to someone who seemed to know vaguely what they were talking about who assured me all would be sorted. Almost two months after my initial phone call, I still didn’t have internet. After many stressful hours of my life which I will never get back, finally my internet got switched on. And the signal I get is pretty horrendous. And a 24 month contract! What was I thinking? I am now stuck with a phone which I don’t like for the next 18 months.

Virgin hatred over, I shall move on to the phone itself.

First of all, the BlackBerry App World. It is appalling. The free apps you find which are actually worth keeping for more than a week are all but non-existent. I have found one so far: Pixelated. The fact that graphics, quality and controls are pretty limited on the phone is going to be a pretty big drawback for any app developers.

The internet on the Curve is slow. Seriously slow. It can take upwards of a minute just to load a page like BBC Sport. For a phone to be released in 2009 without a GSM 3G radio was an abysmal oversight by RIM, and it was something that I assumed would be present when I signed my contract. The camera on it is also pretty dire. I think it’s 2MP. The picture quality is very poor and it won’t let you record a video unless you buy a memory card. Some people do not have a microSD card handy, and I wouldn’t even want to film in jerky and blurry whatever the crappy resolution is.

The phone struggles with multitasking. Far too often that irritating little timer appears in the middle of the screen, signalling the fact that I won’t be able to do anything until it disappears, normally at least 30 seconds later. At times the timer just doesn’t go away, so I am forced to take the battery out and put it in again, which means the phone decides to take a good five minutes to restart itself. Sometimes, when it’s doing god knows what, it takes more than half a minute just to respond to me pressing the unlock key.

And there are annoying little niggles with it. When I press the mute button to unlock the phone, it takes me straight to the music screen. It’s small, but annoying. Although it has fixed itself now, for a while the zoom on the camera didn’t work. And when you open the QR code scanner, if you don’t scan a code then you can’t close it, so you are forced to take the battery out and put it in again.

As you no doubt know, a couple of months ago, BlackBerry service shut down, for no apparent reason. And it wasn’t a complete internet thing; I could still use a Flixster app to get movie reviews, even though it needs the internet to work. The communication from RIM was a nightmare. I thought it was just my phone until I asked other BlackBerry owners. Then, they announced it was back up and running. Which it wasn’t. A few days later, it finally got back on. There was no explanation from RIM, just an apology with a few crappy apps, most of which refused to run on my 512MHz CPU.

I am focusing on the bad bits of the Curve here. There are good points too. BBM is a very good service when nobody flicks a switch in Slough. The phone looks great, and feels sturdy and well-built. The trackpad works very smoothly, and the layout of the phone is great.

RIM can change for the better. With QNX and the promise of Android apps coming to BlackBerry devices will vastly improve the shoddy software experience. If the next generations of phones come equipped with ‘4G’  LTE and HSPA+ radios then the internet problems will be gone. If BBM can stay up and running whenever we need it and they open it up at last to owners of Android, iOS and other smartphones then it will become the dominant mobile messaging platform. iMessage and ChatOn will die. Design quality seems to be getting better as I would say the new Bold 9900 looks very nice and the touch interaction is useful and the cameras are much improved on newer devices. Dual core or even quad core chips will bring the hardware specs in line with the high end Android handsets and will make the software less laggy and therefore more desirable. It’s not all doom and gloom for RIM.

So, I wouldn’t say that BlackBerries are terrible phones. My 8520 is not bad. It just needs a lot of work on it. RIM need to give it a better processor, a better camera that we expect from new smartphones, a much better wireless antenna like the Pearl and fix the software bugs. They should speed up the internet and give the graphics an upgrade, and find a way to encourage app developers to use the App World more. When BBX launches, it will entice developers but RIM need to make some massive overhauls for them to stay around and forget about iOS and Android.

But, for now, I’m just stuck with this phone for the next 18 months of my life.

Bollocks.