BlackBerry Z10 Launches In U.S. As CEO Slams Apple, Samsung


BlackBerry Friday launched its long-awaited Z10 smartphone in the company's latest effort to take back lost market share from rivals like Apple and Samsung.

The BlackBerry Z10 is the first device designed for the company's new BlackBerry 10 operating system. The enterprise smartphone, which is priced at $199.99 with a two-year wireless contract, comes with a 4.2-inch touchscreen display instead of the traditional physical keyboard of older BlackBerry models.

In advance of the Z10's launch, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins has hammered the competition this week, criticizing rival offerings from Samsung and Apple in various interviews. For example, Heins told CNET that Samsung's Android devices will never offer "top-notch" security; Samsung recently introduced the Knox security solution, which has features similar to BlackBerry Enterprise Services 10, but Heins said Samsung's solution was the equivalent of locking your windows but leaving your front door open.

[Related: Head-to-Head: BlackBerry Z10 vs. Apple iPhone 5]

Heins also told the Associated Press that the iPhone was outdated and criticized Apple's lack of support for true multitasking.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry has been playing up the Z10's attributes, such as its dual-core ARM-based processor running at 1.5 GHZ, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage. Unlike other competing smartphones that offer various amounts of internal storage, BlackBerry is only launching the 16-GB Z10, though the device comes with microSD card support for an additional 64 GB of expandable storage. The Z10 has a 1,280-x-768 display resolution and supports HD video recording. The device also has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera.

The true allure of the Z10, however may be the software inside the smartphone; the BlackBerry 10 OS has a number of enterprise-focused features such as BlackBerry Balance, which allows user to create a personal profile and business profile and move seamlessly between the two, and BlackBerry Flow, a multitasking feature that lets users move in and out of applications without quitting them.

But, BlackBerry still faces questions over whether the company's comeback effort is too late to keep the smartphone maker viable. BlackBerry delayed BB10's release last year, which had partners concerned about the enterprise smartphone maker's future. And while the company launched the BlackBerry 10 OS in January, the actual BlackBerry devices for the OS weren't available in the U.S. until today. In addition, the BlackBerry Q10 had been delayed yet again from its intended launch date in April to later in spring or early summer.

PUBLISHED MARCH 22, 2013