Blackberry Announces New QWERTY Phone And 10.1 OS Update

BlackBerry has announced a raft of new products and services for its business-centric platform, including an OS update for Z10 users and a new BlackBerry smartphone that packs a familiar QWERTY keyboard. Here’s a recap of what Blackberry 10.1 offers along with what we know about the new phone.

The announcements came thick and fast at this year’s Blackberry Live event, but the main showstoppers were the Blackberry 10.1 OS update and a new BlackBerry smartphone dubbed the Q5.

As its name implies, Blackberry 10.1 is an OS update for current-gen Blackberry smartphones such as the Z10 (which is the only Blackberry 10-supported model currently available in Australia). New features ushered in by the 10.1 update include Instant Actions (i.e. — predefined action shortcuts within the Universal Search interface), the ability to view calendar in landscape mode, Keyboard Shortcuts, notification customisation and some improvements to cursor control and the camera (most notably a high-dynamic-range mode).

You can also automatically call phone numbers that appear in emails and messages by simply clicking on it. The Blackberry Hub has also received some tweaks, including support for PIN-to-PIN encrypted messages between BlackBerry devices and improved attachment support.

Naturally, the update will also provide full support the new features of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10.1 including Regulated-level EMM, new dashboard and reporting tools, and 12×5 telephone access to BlackBerry support services.

Blackberry 10.1 is available to US users now. Local telcos should hopefully be rolling out the update in the coming days.

Blackberry Q5 Outed

At the same event, the company also announced the Blackberry Q5; a new entry-level smartphone primarily aimed at consumers that features a distinctive QWERTY keyboard in place of a full touch screen.

“The BlackBerry Q5 gives you the best of everything with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality and a physical QWERTY keyboard,” boasted BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins at the event. “It is for youthful fans that are passionate, confident and bold, and it makes it easy for them to have fun, create, share and stay connected.”

The Q5 will feature Instant Action shortcuts, Time Shift/Story Maker camera tools, BBM Video chat and BlackBerry Hub. Thorsten was pretty tight-lipped about the new phone’s specifications, but it will likely compete against mid-tier Android devices with an eye on the frugal fashionista market.

The new phone will be shipped to “selected markets” around world starting in July. Australian availability and pricing has yet to be confirmed.

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