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BlackBerry 10: what you need to know

BlackBerry 10 launch preview

BlackBerry 10 preview

We've had to wait a long time, but today the BlackBerry 10 is finally being launched. Click here to view our live video from the BlackBerry 10 launch, or click here to read our BlackBerry 10 launch: live blog. See also: BlackBerry Z10 review and BlackBerry 10 review.

It is supposed to be the solution to RIM's declining market share, turning the company around to once again become a player of significance in the smartphone market. The new operating system together with a number of new smartphones are intended to make BlackBerry relevant again. Hardware.Info compiled everything you need to know about the new BlackBerry.

Today the new OS from RIM will be unveiled, together with two new smartphones. We'll call these the BlackBerry X10 and the BlackBerry Z10 for now. They belong to RIM's high-end segment, the X10 has a physical keyboard and the Z10 is a full-touch model.

The SoC that's rumoured to be inside the Z10 (and probably also the X10) isn't that impressive compared to the current generation of high-end smartphones. It's allegedly the TI OMAP 4470, with two Cortex A9 cores running at 1.5 GHz and the PowerVR SGX544 for GPU. The same SoC appeared a few months back in the Archos 101 XS and it's certainly not a bad choice, but it can't really be called high-end. It does support 4G LTE.

Then again, power and speed isn't everything. If you have a very efficient OS that can take maximum advantage of the available processing power, then you don't always need the most powerful chips around. Windows Phone has proven that already. The Z10 is supposed to have 2 GB of RAM, and that will definitely help facilitate a smooth user experience.

The only physical buttons on both phones will be the on/off switch and the volume buttons, the rest are virtual buttons located in the touchscreen. You can do lots of things by swiping, and for certain commands you actually start moving your hand outside of the screen. If you've ever used Blackberry's Playbook this concept will be familiar. The Playbook OS is based on QNX just like BlackBerry 10 is.

The main characteristic of BlackBerry 10 is the fact that you can access everything by means of a swipe. There is very little layering inside the menus, so you won't find submenu after submenu here. The OS has been designed with multi-tasking and single-hand operation in mind. To make multi-tasking as efficient as possible, RIM has spent a lot of time and effort on what it calls BlackBerry Flow. It enables the smooth transitioning between apps, without having to leave an app entirely. For example, if you notice a new email arriving, you can have a quick look. 'Peeking' is enabled by moving your thumb a quarter circle, starting below the screen. If it's nothing important, you can just keep working inside the app you were in.

BlackBerry Hub displays all of your communication (mails, messages, tweets, linked-in updates, and so on). You can access it with a single swipe. It reminds us of the Windows Phone approach. When you're in an app, you can access all of the options of that app by moving your hand top to bottom, again starting outside of the screen. It's comparable to how it works on the Playbook. When you swipe from bottom to top you go to the start screen.

To read more about the hands-on experience and the first impressions of BlackBerry 10, read the full preview on Hardware.Info.

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