BlackBerry 10 Alpha Device Revealed

Research In Motion (RIM) has revealed a BlackBerry 10 Alpha developer prototype device at its big developer-focussed shindig, the BlackBerry World in Orlando, Florida.

Handing out one each to over 2,000 developer, the device isn’t representative of the final phones we’ll see running the new operating system but is meant as a way for developers to start to get to grips with the hardware and software so they have apps ready for launch, rather than months after.

This early version of BlackBerry 10 is very similar to the PlayBook OS and as such the developer prototype strongly resembles a mini version of the company’s 7in tablet. It sports the same soft-touch black back, squared edges, side-mounted volume buttons and programmable ‘convenience key’.

The crucial bits of hardware, though, are the screen size (4.2in) and resolution (720 x 1,280), which the company has confirmed will be used for (some) final hardware. By working to these dimensions and using the core API of this current Alpha version, app developers will know how their apps will look long before final hardware is announced.

Also included is 16GB of on-board storage, 1GB of RAM, mini-HDMI port and microUSB, which will serve double duty allowing developers to use it for debugging as well as charging. It’s ready to roll as a proper phone too with a microSIM onboard. NFC has also been included and intriguingly you can use it even when the phone is turned off, allowing you to use it for transactions or as an electronic key even when you’ve run out of battery.

One thing to note is that even though this is a touchscreen device, there is nothing to suggest there won’t still be BlackBerrys with physical keyboards.

The company also showed off a few features of the new OS in animated videos. It all looked very slick – particularly the gesture/swipe-based onscreen keyboard – though it’s still very early days for the platform so we can’t judge too much as yet.

So what do you think? Excited by the look of BlackBerry 10 or is it all too little too late? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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