I went along to BlackBerry's launch of BB10 all prepared to get a hands-on look at the new Z10, only to find that all attendees were given a unit to take away and review at leisure - with the phone going on sale within hours.

It seems that us Brits did something right, getting access to the new BlackBerry well ahead of the rest of the world.

So, doing a full review is precisely what I'll be doing in the coming days, so I will have a proper chance to see if all the hype about the new BlackBerry means the company, formerly known as RIM, can make an impressive comeback.

The jury is still out, but I am sure many people feel a lot more confident than 24 hours ago.

My first impressions of the Z10, and the QWERTY-keyboard Q10 (that wasn't around to see in the flesh, due later in the year), is that BlackBerry is pitching at a rather high-end market, primarily consisting of business and enterprise users, which could be a bit off the mark - even if that is arguably where the money is. Given its popularity with the teenage market, this could be alienating a large proportion of potential customers. It seems equally odd when there's such an emphasis on gaming, even if BlackBerry would argue that business users play games too. What's more, aren't many companies just telling employees to bring their own phone to work? That's an argument for another day, but this time around there's no need to sign up and pay for a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) subscription as a consumer, but that doesn't mean that saving £5 or so per month is going to stop you paying a high price on contract - in the region of £35 a month, or more if you sign up for 4G with EE. Ultimately, you're going to have to pay for a very powerful phone with a HD display, Qualcomm S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, NFC, and 4G. To get up and running, you simply log in with your BlackBerry ID (or create one there and then) and add your email, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts. The phone goes off and – much like Windows Phone – throws it all together in a unified inbox, or 'Hub'. However, unlike Windows Phone, you can easily access the BlackBerry Hub at any time, using a series of common gestures that control every aspect of the phone. Apps can be minimised and continue to display information, much like Live Tiles. Another swipe reveals a more familiar grid based list of apps, while a drag down from the top of the screen doesn't open an Android-style notification bar, but beings up menu options for that app instead. Everything is done without a single button to press at any time. No back key, no home icon, no search buttons – just a series of gestures that are very easy to learn with a load of tutorials installed on the phone to learn from the minute you switch on. You can even skip pressing the power button to turn the device back on with a swipe up from the base of the screen. It's all very clever, but there's a learning curve that will potentially put a lot of people off who aren't in the mood for change - especially one this big. One thing you will quickly master is the on-screen keyboard. It's so good, with support for multiple languages and a dictionary that detects the language and switches automatically, you'll possibly wonder if the Q10 needed to be made at all. There are numerous shortcuts on the keyboard, from swiping left to delete a word to flicking words that appear on the keyboard upwards to insert them. A swipe down reveals numbers and symbols, so pretty soon you'll be typing as if you still had a physical keyboard. The keyboard will even split up wordsaccidentallyjoinedup automatically! For the traditional BlackBerry user, this is perhaps the most important feature of all. Thorsten Heins, President & CEO of BlackBerry called it: "Writing without typing". Another existing BlackBerry feature, BlackBerry Protect, is also included to back up all of your data, and also make it possible to track and block your phone if it gets lost or stolen. If you once owned a BlackBerry but got dragged away by sexier user interfaces, BlackBerry 10 does still have all of the features you once loved - but it's a very different beast. There won't be many things that you'll feel that familiar with. All in HD Besides the 1280x768 pixel HD display, the HD port on the side is perfect for not only putting those presentations on the big screen, but equally good for gaming too. Gameloft told me after the main presentation that they haven't ruled out offering support for Bluetooth gamepads in the future, which could enable this to join the growing number of smartphones that can offer a virtual console-like experience in the living room.
HDMI output

Another feature shown off was video calling, a feature that nobody really showed much interest in. It's neither new, nor popular for anyone but Skype users (which is also available for BB10), perhaps. However, the real feature being announced wasn't face-to-face conversation but screen sharing. How much you can share wasn't made totally clear, but it all shows that BlackBerry has considered lots of different things in the development of its new platform. Other features including a 'Time shift' feature within the camera app, allowing you to take a sequence of photos in succession, then allow the phone to pick out the faces automatically. Pick your key photo and with a turn of a virtual dial, you can pick the best faces to merge into the perfect shot. In addition to that, there's a picture editor with gestures to apply a number of effects, with a simple sliding action to see before and after. The Story Maker app acts like iMovie to let you quickly create videos combining moving and still images with a music track of your choice dubbed on top and simple captions. Gaming potential Great as the phone is (and it really has impressed so far, even if some of the 'apps' on the phone are little more than web links to mobile-optimised sites), it's how it is supported by the gaming industry that will determine if this has any place as a device for gamers. Asphalt 7 BB10
Asphalt 7 (beta) running on BB10

NOVA 3
N.O.V.A. 3 being played on the big screen via the internal HD output So far, BlackBerry has boasted that 1,000 of the top apps will be on BB10. This includes a number of top gaming titles, including Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope and Where's my Water? - along with 11 titles from Gameloft, including N.O.V.A. 3 and Asphalt 7.

Can BlackBerry 10 succeed? The new BlackBerry World store now combines apps, games, films and music in a single location, with the process of finding, downloading and installing apps easier than ever before. It should make a huge difference over previous versions of the OS, and open up users to a lot more choice - like the other platforms it is competing with. Of course, simply duplicating the existing library of apps and other content is one thing. To make BB10 a platform that you will want to switch to requires new and original content, thus giving people an incentive to move and proving that the platform is one to take seriously. Unfortunately, knowing the outcome of that will take a lot longer than it will take to review the first phone itself. However, despite thinking BlackBerry has a huge struggle ahead of it, I do think that the company couldn't have done anything more than it did today to make a positive impression. Now it's a case of playing the waiting game.