After years of watching users ditch its once-popular BlackBerry devices for more modern smartphones, RIM has decided to make one last effort to regain some of its former glory – and market share. The company has changed its name (now BlackBerry, Inc.) and its strategy, this morning announcing the first true BlackBerry smartphone: the Z10.
Question is: is it too late?
The BlackBerry Z10 bears little resemblance to its messenger-class predecessors. With a 4.2-inch touchscreen, rounded corners and flat sides, it’s difficult to escape comparisons with current iPhones – at least in terms of design. The Z10 is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor with 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC, and 8MP/2MP cameras.
The BlackBerry 10 OS that drives the Z10 has been completely rewritten, and is heavily dependent on touch gestures to get the user from function to function. Engadget has posted a fairly extensive review of BB10, which is a must-read if you want to better understand the direction the OS has taken.
It doesn’t appear that the Z10 has any must-have features that would make a significant number of iPhone or Android users make the switch, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens when the new device is released in a few weeks. It will be available from the four major U.S. carriers, with LTE support from all but T-Mobile. Price with two-year contract will be around $200.
Watch the BlackBerry 10 & Z10 launch event video.
Today, Samsung unveiled a new smartphone model, the Galaxy S II Plus. As the name suggests, it is an update to the popular Galaxy S II Android phone, though the updates it offers aren’t exactly mind-blowing.
Like the original S II, the Plus has a 4.3" 480×800 Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, an 8MP primary camera, Bluetooth 3.0, and 1GB of RAM. The only hardware differences appear to be a faster camera, a microSD slot compatible with microSDXC cards up to 64GB, NFC, and reduced internal storage of 8GB (down from 16GB).
Another noteworthy change is the OS; although the S II has been updated to Android 4.0 with further updates on the way, the S II Plus ships with Android 4.1.2 “Jelly Bean.”
No word yet on carriers, pricing or release dates.
View the Samsung Press Release
The forth-generation Nexus smartphone from Google is, not surprisingly, the Nexus 4. This Android-powered phone is built by LG, and offers many high-end features in a relatively inexpensive package.
T-Mobile will sell the Nexus 4 for $199 with a two-year contract; no surprise there. But Google also sells an unlocked GSM version for $100 more. That’s a brand new, unlocked Nexus phone for $299 with no contract.
Features include a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 4.7-inch touchscreen, an 8MP primary camera, NFC, and the latest version of the Android OS, v4.2 "Jelly Bean." The phone is available with either 8GB or 16GB of internal flash storage. However, it does not have LTE.
The Nexus 4 is getting great, glowing reviews.
Learn more about the LG Nexus 4 smartphone here…
We don’t know when it’ll ship or how much it’ll cost, but today AT&T announced that it will offer Sony’s Xperia XL Android phone.
The Xperia XL will sadly ship with Android 4.0, but apparently will be updated to 4.1 shortly after release (we’ll believe that when we see it). But there are some other goodies to mitigate the older OS blues: a dual-core 1.5GHz S4 SoC, a 4.6-inch Bravia 720p HD touchscreen display, and a whopping 13MP primary camera. Other features include NFC with SmartTag, LTE and HSPA+ network support, and a 720p front-facing camera for video chats.
We’ll keep you updated as new information is released.
As expected, Amazon announced its updated 2012-2013 Kindle family this afternoon. In addition to two new eInk readers, three Android-based Kindle Fire tablets were also introduced, two with HD displays.
The Kindle Fire HD models are available with either a 7-inch or 8.9-inch touchscreen, the smaller costing $199 with 16GB of internal storage, the larger priced $100 more. Both screens are HD, with the larger 8.9-inch model featuring an impressive 1920×1200 display with 254PPI (a slightly less-dense pixel count than the iPad 3). New display construction methods are said to reduce glare and increase effective viewing angles.
The larger Fire HD includes the new TI OMAP4 4470 ARM SoC processor, which Amazon says outperforms even the NVIDIA Tegra 3, currently considered to be the fastest tablet SoC.
Amazon also has a 4G version of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, which gives you 250MB of use per month for an annual fee of $50. Impressive. This model comes with double the storage, 32GB, and is $499 – $230 cheaper than a comparable iPad 3 and far more affordable once you factor in the monthly cost of 4G access on Apple’s tablet.
The standard Kindle Fire also received a reported 40% performance bump, improved battery life, and a price cut – now $159 rather than $199.
Pre-orders start today with the new Kindle Fire and 7-inch Kindle Fire HD shipping in mid-September. The 8.9-inch models will ship in November.