This is the new BlackBerry 10, two weeks from its official release. And while visually it looks like a cross between Android and iOS — without any of the spiffiness of Windows Phone — RIM's make-or-break operating system is surprisingly nice. Fast, with clever user interface touches, a centralised hub for all user activity and a good browser.
It may be too late, but after spending some time with BB10, I can't shake the feeling that it may make former BlackBerry users fall in love with RIM again — and perhaps even make some disenchanted iOS or Android junkies jump ship. Or maybe BB10 will just be to RIM what webOS was to HP: a nice phone operating system that faced too many ifs, and two formidable enemies who own the market. And, unlike Microsoft and Windows Phone 8, RIM doesn't have really deep pockets to keep this alive during the long battle against all odds that lies ahead.
But what RIM has done here is admirable. BB10 won't be the prettiest mobile platform on the block, and it's still an app desert. But it's thoughtful, functional and fast in ways that BlackBerry hasn't been in years.