BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Hands On!

Hands-on photos and first impressions of the BlackBerry 10 Alpha Device - the developer test device that will allow developers to get their apps ready for the release of BlackBerry 10 phones later this year!

BlackBerry Dev Alpha Device!
By Kevin Michaluk on 1 May 2012 09:30 am EDT

There's been a lot of talk about the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device leading up to BlackBerry World 2012 and the BlackBerry 10 Jam, including some leaked photos that we posted this past weekend of what we *believed* was the Dev Alpha device. Turns out those early photos were the real deal, which we confirmed when we received an early hands-on look at the Dev Alpha device. 

Reminder: The Dev Alpha is not a BlackBerry 10 Phone. RIM has made this message loud and clear, but we'll repeat it once again for good measure before we give some thoughts on the device:

The purpose of this seeding is to give BlackBerry 10 Jam developer attendees a testing device to create excitement as they start to develop BlackBerry 10 applications alongside us.

To be clear, this is not a BlackBerry 10 device. It's the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha. It includes a modified version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS which shows the path to the BlackBerry 10 OS, which has been customized to a phone. This device will allow developers to test the applications they are building with our BlackBerry 10 toolsets.

The Dev Alpha definitely looks like one would expect a BlackBerry 10 development device to look. It has the appearance of a shrunken down PlayBook tablet, featuring a 4.2" touchscreen display at 1024x768 pixel resolution, which is the same resolution of the PlayBook (which puts the pixel density at over 300 DPI). Another PlayBook similarity is the OS. The Dev Alpha as developers will receive it is running a stripped down version of the PlayBook OS, which when loaded features only the web browser and camera as apps. Developers can, of course, sideload their apps for testing and as the launch of BlackBerry 10 phones nears, developers will receive OTA updates to the device.

Picking Up the Dev Alpha

BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha
Picking up the Dev Alpha for the first time!

Considering the Dev Alpha is *just* a developer device, it gets us really excited for what the actual first BlackBerry 10 phone will look like. Reading through previous comments on CrackBerry related to the leaked Dev Alpha photos, a lot of you out there would be happy as punch if BlackBerry put out a phone with this hardware as it is in these photos. And looking at the phone in person, it does look pretty nice, with that utility feel of the PlayBook.

On the subject of size, the device is what I'd call everyday usable big. With a 4.2" display, the Dev Alpha makes the iPhone look tiny, but the Dev Alpha still feels good in the hand compared to some of the other smartphones  out there, which have taken display size a little too far in my opinion (at some point a phone becomes a tablet...). Knowing that developers need to test their apps for given resolutions, one thing we can expect to carry over from the Dev Alpha to the first BlackBerry 10 phone is that awesome display.

As noted above, RIM made it clear that looks aside, even the underlying guts of the Dev Alpha shouldn't be taken as representative of the first BlackBerry 10 phone. In other words, you can expect an even faster chipset to be powering the BlackBerry 10 phone you buy compared to what's in the Dev Alpha. And we're ok with this. The guts in the Dev Alpha are still pretty solid, so even faster is even better.

The big question mark for us still after going hands-on with the Dev Alpha is of course the OS experience. On the Dev Alpha we're still looking at the BlackBerry PlayBook OS, which uses bezel gestures to navigate around the device and swipe between apps. But that's the PlayBook OS, and we know RIM has been heads down working on BlackBerry 10 and we're dying to see it.

Bottom line: The BlackBerry Dev Alpha device is a nice piece of kit that gets us salivating for real deal BlackBerry 10 phones. We hope all the developers getting a free one at the BlackBerry 10 Jam put it to use and build tons of apps so we can download them when BlackBerry 10 phones hit the market later this year. Let's get to it devs. You build those apps, and we'll blog the hell out of them and spread the word!

Photos of the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Device

BlackBerry 10 Alpha Dev Specs

  • OS: BlackBerry 10 Developer Preview V
  • Display: 4.2-inch 1280x768 HD LCD (356dpi) touch screen.
  • Storage: 16GB Internal.
  • Network: Quad Band HSPA+, No LTE support enabled. microSIM.
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, NFC
  • Cameras: Front Facing with no flash. Rear Camera with Flash.
  • Ports: 3.5MM Headphone Jack, microHDMI, microUSB.
  • Battery: Non-Removable.

Reader comments

BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Hands On!


I'm sure with all the buzz going on there it's a Typo I'm sure it's supposed to be 600. since that's the same as the playbook. 1024x600. But 1024x768 is just habit from the old days. So I'm sure it just rolled right off the finger tips haha.

yeah just got on webcast and saw it. I had just woke up and saw kevin mention it's the same resolution as the playbook. I guess he meant scalable. I can't wait to see the next BB10 device.

BlackBerry Curve 3G Verizon.

I'm just trying to figure out what would make this phone prefereable over a droid or iphone. I think if they can make one of these with their amazing keyboard, then they have something. The problem is I don't like the torch layout with the sliding keyboard. I don't know. It would seem to me that from what I see here, there doesn't seem to be anything that would draw the public away from platforms that already have endless apps. The final product needs to kick the crap out of anything out there right now, with little to no compromise on any features. Of course I could be wrong.

If any of the 'few' demos that came out today make it there will be a few reasons. If the early promis of cascades is realised then that could help.

you mook, its not the finished phone, its a Developers phone, in the Alpha stage....."Reminder: The Dev Alpha is not a BlackBerry 10 Phone."

I realize that, but I would think they would use the same resolution. Plus, the article states that it is the same resolution, qutoes two different resolutions, niether of which are the same as the PlayBooks.

that would be worrying..."develop your app and test it on this phone...and your final product will look different when we launch the phone"?!?


Meaning the device will have the same aspect ratio and automatically adjust the app.

They said if you make an app for the PB it'll work for BB10. That's why they have these Alpha Dev devices.

But the new phones you can best believe they will be 1280 by 768.

Beautiful device. I want one.

(But I'm hesitant because it doesn't have a keyboard. Make that TK Victory.)

Looked nice enough, but some of the spec choices were just about throwing high specs at a design without thinking about whether they would be of any use whatsoever.

Looks good, definitely need a phone like that in the BlackBerry line up. Can't wait to see what they do to the Bold series as well.


Thank you for not making this a video only article. I appreciate your efforts at catering to those of us stuck behind corporate filtering policies all day that cannot view any streaming media.

This is moving in the right direction. Now lets quickly get this into consumers hands and show the true value/performance of the BB devices. This looks amazing!!

BB10 will not be the answer to the iPhone juggernaut... Unless of course, they are developing 8000 'fart noise' apps somewhere. Then you're in with a chance... ;^)

I've been saying the same thing for some time now - That the iPhone is 'toy-like' and for all the thousands of applications available it is still a toy with apps to fart, ding, dong, blow a horn or sound like a door bell. It imitates but does not really innovate. What the iPhone has, has been done. Granted, its a phone with slick marketing and does what it does well; but its not a GREAT phone.

That said, RIM / Blackberry, with the soon to be released BB10, has to come out swinging. It has to have not just applications (with is important) but useful applications that WOW both consumers and business alike. It has to be fast, slick, robust, powered up, and ready to kick the iPhone Android Windows collective asses!

Okay, I know.... I'm hyperventilating and I have to slow down.... pant pant wheeze.

Right, I'm feeling much better now....

I'll just finish off with the following - BRING ON THE POWER OF TEN! BB10.....

BlackBerry Curve 3G Verizon.

I'm always confused when people say the Iphone is toy like. Yes, you can turn it into a toy, but that doesn't mean it's a toy. I just never understood that statement from a logical point of view.

Absolute nonsense and fanboy rhetoric! As much as I love BB and have been with them for years, I will always be honest about it an the competition. On my 1st gen iPad, I have the following business apps: AP News, BBC News, Bloomberg, NPR, WSJ, CNN, CNBC, The Economist, Bloomberg TV+, Fox Business, and Howcast. The streaming apps I have are: Hulu PLus, Netflix, TED, PBS, WatchESPN, Crackle, TBS, TNT, NBC. I wouldn't consider any one of these toys. These are what business and consumer want and what the Playbook is severely lacking. If BB10 does not get some of these popular apps, it is DOA!

Only thing missing is MicroSD & physical keyboard. I hope the physical keyboard version comes out by the end of the year, I've already asked Santa many times. I would also like a removable battery.

I wouldn't write off the microsd just yet, including one would allow them to stick with a single model with just 16gig built-in and not have to worry about getting the right balance of each version while demand was uncertain.

Micro SD is gone. It's not really needed when you have 32GB+ models (which is what I hope the BB10 device will start with). Plus, the consumer market is not demanding it.

Zack Morris approves this screen for the next BB 10 device.

I sure hope RIM doesn't decide on a 4.2" display. The screen is the size of the iPhone 4S!! I have a Playbook for a reason. I hope RIM puts telephony into the Playbook for those clowns that need a huge phone, and keep the form factor suitable for those who want a phone.

How is it that you don't know the iPhone has a 3.5" screen and always has been so ??? Just read don't type Please !!!!!

i shake my head to the 3 comments above mine. I'm sure he meant that the screen(4.2") on the alpha device is the size of the whole iphone4s(which it really isn't but making a huge exaggeration)

Other than the iphone, the market especially in north america is for larger devices, so realistically you have to expect their first model to be a 4.2-4.3" device and it would be quite likely for them to also have a 4.6-4.7" model too.

If you think about the dimensions of this device it is going to be the same sort of width as a 9900 while being a bit taller, so would still be nice and comfortable to hold in your hand.

Please tell me that the power button is easier to use than that little bastard on the PlayBook. That thing still annoys me. not that I use it much.

I wouldn't be surprised if they use a better design for the new BB10 phone(relating to the power button), and then implement it on a refreshed PB. At least the one on this Alpha device you could push easier with your nail.

Kevin, you talked about the internals but didn't mention what they are? PB chipset? New PB chipset, something else entirely? Can you see what OS version it is on? Also, you mentioned it but I just wanted to clarify whether or not the bezel is touch sensitive.

Personally I think 4.2" is too big in general and definitely too close in size to the PB, 3.7" or 4" would be better in my opinion.

Nice to see BB 10 announced, am hoping for more metal and premium styling on the eventual hardware that accompanies it (and a phone with a physical keyboard), but for a dev alpha device this looks very impressive in how finished it is.

What's with the barcode at the bottom?

I must be the only one NOT excited about Blackberry 10. =/
I think they should stop trying to keep up with Android & iPhone in the looks
department and just continue to do their signature Blackberry look.
Heck, I have an iPhone right now & I'm thinking about getting a Blackberry,
why would I get something that feels and looks like the iPhone? Lol.

How about you hold your horses about the design and stop thinking that it'll look like the phones you mentioned. This isn't the production phone.

Heck, I converted to an iPhone and even I'm excited for the BB10 phone. At least from these pics it sure looks like a nice phone. And I am a firm believer in the mantra of "competition is good". It brings out the best in everyone.

Will this phone get me to switch back? No. But for RIM's sake I do hope this phone is a homerun!!!

As Kevin and RIM have stated over and over and over, it's a Dev Alpha device.

RIM have already stated there will be alternate product offerings, including with a keyboard.

I have always felt the BlackBerry hardware was rugged and durable but the software was not as user friendly as competitors. This time it is clear they are pouring everything they have into the software (and have plans for pretty awesome hardware.)

I was impressed by their virtual keyboard but I'm torn because I just love the Keyboard of the 9930.

Credit given the software looks great! Particularly the timeline camera! Now how well will the marketing be?

I think BB10 the OS will launch in a few days. The Alpha Device has a stripped down version of the PB OS.We just got a bridge update. i dont know ........ when you think about it it kindah makes sense launch the OS on the PB and the actual phone hardware will follow in a few months.......maybe its wishful thinking on my part.

Not a chance of that happening, the phones are not coming out for months because they need to get the software finished first and the playbook getting an upgrade is almost certainly going to be a far lower priority for bb10 than getting the phones ready and in the stores.

But they're going to be the same OS now so they should have updates that come out at nearly the same time. I certainly hope the PB gets BB10 first, to help create buzz for the new phones.

The priority for them will be on selling new hardware so the fact of the matter is that any issues that were playbook-specific would be lower priority than ones that were common to both phones and tablets or phone only, so it is inevitable that the upgrade for the playbook will turn up after the new phones.

Also, any buzz produced by a version for the playbook would diminish the excitement they would hope to make from the launch of a new device and os.

Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long after that to get a bb10 upgrade on our playbooks, but it is almost certain we will have to wait unless they pull a surprise and manage a simultaneous launch on both phone and tablet.

I'm sure it will be a simultaneous (at least within days) release.

I completely disagree with you about releasing it for PB first. If we're to expect that the PB and Phones will have the same OS except that the PB won't have phone software then why wouldn't they release BB10 at least around the same time they ship the phones to retailers? If I got BB10 on my PB before the phones came out and was able to show it to friends and say "this is exactly how the new phones will be", they could be blown away and be more likely to purchase one or at least tell others how impressed they were.

hope my buddies, Ibnu Maksum, Deddy Avianto, and many blackberry developers around the world, especially from Indonesia, can fully utilize this Dev Alpha for their new apps. Can't wait to get video conference feature at BB10 Handheld.

Dev Alpha HH amaze and amuse, Hope the real BB 10 HH is marvelous. Never replace BB from my pocket since 2008.

Kevin, i really have to give to you guys at CB, BB news always on time spot on every time, well done guys! Yeah BB10 is looking good, still need me some physical qwerty though.

I know a video will be coming up soon, i'm interested in seeing the keyboard layout and how much easier, difficult or impossible it is to type on the soft keys and if that great predictive text from the PB is here too.

I think it's pre-mature to predict how the final device will look like. Ultimately, I'd like to see a Bb with the keyboard from 9900/9930, Corning glass, 1.2Ghz+ dual core, 1gb ram, at least 16GB internal storage with support for external microSD if possible, better screen resolutions than iPhone, 2mp+ front camera, 12mp+ rear camera with auto-focus features, NFC, etc..

The other 2 look like toys, this device looks more professional even not being the finished product. Hope they don't do anything stupid and get this right.

BlackBerry Curve 3G Verizon.

The other two look like toys? What's the difference you see that gives them a toy like appearance?

That non-removable battery better be at least 1500mAh and last at least 9 hours with web surfing, texting, emailing, etc ..

i really dont have a problem with a non-removable battery if RIM is going to create a blackberry that would give me the battery capacity like the moto razzr max then hey i can live with that. I am very disappointed with the 9900 and the battery life what the hell was rim thinking something so simple and they screwed it up they were once known for great battery life now today rim phones well they have some of the poorest battery life such a damn shame

I think exactly like BigRob673 :" Only thing missing is MicroSD & physical keyboard. I would also like a removable battery."

The physical keyboard should be a slide-out one (larger) because the standard blackberry has keys too small, IMO.

... and naturally, NFC and Wifi Direct.

If there is no LTE support I am not going buy it. LTE will have been out for a while by the time the BB 10 comes out that not support LTE would setting RIM back to the stone ages again.


You apparently aren't aware the reason they delayed these phones was so they could incorporate a new LTE chipset. They will have LTE.

The LTE devices out today are a kludge (3G + 4G as separate chipsets) and aren't worth the price of admission. This is why there is no LTE iPhone. RIM will provide you a BB10 mobile computing device that will perform.

Remember, Android = cheap solution in most cases



Last laugh how, they have always said the first bb10 device would be all-touch, qwerty blackberries will turn up too because it would be commercial suicide on their part to abandon such an important part of a blackberry.

looks like an iphone. Not a bad quality except that people will know it and assume that RIM is just trying to copy the competition! Also, I was hoping for no more than a 4" screen, hense the reason for the playbook. Also, why is this the exact same size as the nexus but only has a 4" screen? If your going to make it that size now, might as well make it 4.6" no? How about 4" and roughly the same size as the iphone.... with the curves of... well.... A BLACKBERRY! =)

I wanna like this device, I really do... So I'll wait and judge when the real device comes out. Also think that a keyboard berry should of been the way to go for originality and flagship for bb10. But hey, opinions and a buck 50 will get u a cup of coffee right?

Correct. Just a dev device, but really, phones...they really come in one form factor nowadays. Flip-phones are entirely worthless at this size, and ...all rectangular cell phones will look like iPhone because iPhone is what (first?) did that.

Not copying. It's the OS and features that matter.

It's not going to look like a blackberry because this is NOT Blackberry anymore. This is Blackberry TEN. Not the Java stuff anymore. New ballgame. New Looks. NEW Blackberry. don't have to buy it :). OS 7.1 is still pretty good.

rim is trying to compete why build a 4 inch screen when the trend of the market is bigger screens say what u want to say about the iphone it is the leading phone as we speak blackberry is trying to compete its all about profits and customer satisfaction two things that the iphone is clearly doing right and blackberry is yet to get it right

That "timeline camera" needs to have its own ENTIRE commercial when the advertising starts, especially with the popularity of photography apps out there(eg. instagram). i believe that, and that alone could get people to switch(especially the vain types).

very nice!

can't wait for a proper bb10 device. one that includes sd integration, a removable battery and a smaller physical keyboard device. I honestly dont need all that screen real estate. that's why I'd get a playbook.

As I said : it looks NOTHING like an iphone.
And, yes you can learn to use a virtual keyboard.
I did. So you can.

I think it is time for Blackberry to make some serious partnerships with the companies that use QNX in their cars (BMW, Acura, Hundai, GM, Chrysler, Porsche, Daewoo, Audi, Land Rover, Saab). Integrating BB10 into the systems that open up extra features that the competition does not have access to, like a docking station that turns full control of the phone over to the car, the ability for the car to piggy back on the phones data connection, remote monitoring of your car etc., turning you phone into a wireless key fob with NFC, there is a large market waiting to be tapped into.

Well well well... It looks like I may stay with BlackBerry, instead of jumping to one of the other three in September 2013. I just hope it doesn't have the same weird "chemical" smell of the PlayBook :S

Nice concept but seriously RIM ,how difficult is it to include a microSD or SD slot .Rather disappointing in this regards in otherwise a neat piece of hardware.

I'm not going to complain about the lack of a MicroSD slot or shortcut keys (besides the volume, power, pause/play buttons. That's one of the reasons I fell for BlackBerry. Seems they're phasing things out.

Hopefully the consumer product will not be lacking these things, then there would be less differentiation between other full touch screens. Heck, i bought my first smartphone because i could use a micro sd card in it.

Why BB10?
For me part of the answer starts with the question "why not the others?"
1) Apple is a closed ecosystem which means you do as they say...period (not for me!)
2) Android is an general OS designed for the masses so that google can impose their data tracking Apps on people. (not for me!)

BBs are the best communication and productivity devices today and with BB10 they will be the best at everything.

hmmmmm that was easy!