AT&T, Verizon now accepting pre-orders for the $200 BlackBerry Z10

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Pre-orders for the BlackBerry Z10 are now in full swing for two major U.S. mobile carriers.

Verizon Thursday started pre-orders for the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone, following a similar pre-order kickoff from AT&T on Tuesday. Both networks will offer the new, all-touch BlackBerry handset in black, but the white version is a Verizon exclusive, at least for now.

The BlackBerry Z10 is priced at $200 with a new, two-year contract. The Z10 will hit store shelves at AT&T on March 22 and Verizon on March 28.

BlackBerry has a lot riding on its latest smartphone as the company tries to win back U.S. users after spending years watching first Apple’s iPhone and then Android devices eat away at BlackBerry’s fan base.

To compete with the iPhone and Android, BlackBerry loaded its latest handset with a brand new touch-centric operating system, BlackBerry 10. This latest OS and the Z10 are loaded with customer appeal such as a great 4.2-inch, a display with a resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels; a content marketplace that include apps, movies, TV shows, and music; video calls over BlackBerry Messenger; a highly-praised software keyboard; and some neat camera features such as the ability to make a composite photo out of multiple shots.

BlackBerry Business features

The Z10 and the BlackBerry 10 include key enterprise features to satisfy the large businesses that make up the core of BlackBerry’s business. But make no mistake, the Z10 is about appealing to consumers, including those who might want to bring their own BlackBerry to work as part of the growing BYOD (bring your own device) trend.

BlackBerry Thursday also announced a new update for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. Called Secure Work Space, the new software separates data for work and play on Android and iOS handsets BYOD devices.

Secure Work Space will be sold separately to run as an update to BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. A closed beta test recently began with enterprise and government customers; the software will be generally available by June 30, officials said. Pricing has not been announced.

Can BlackBerry dominate again?

Can BlackBerry regain its once dominant position as the top smartphone maker in the U.S.? Probably not, but maintaining a stronger third-place position behind Android and iOS is likely. Windows Phone is the only significant competition the Z10 has among the also-rans in the ongoing Android-iOS war. But Microsoft’s smartphone OS has even fewer American fans than BlackBerry.

The Windows Phone interface

Windows Phone accounted for 3.1 percent of U.S. smartphone users in January, according to metrics firm comScore. BlackBerry ended the first month of 2013 a little further ahead with 5.9 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers, which is still far behind Android (52.3 percent) and iOS (37.8 percent).

Early reports indicated the Z10 was selling well in several countries, but it’s still too early get a sense of how popular the device will be in the U.S. Some BlackBerry fans may also be waiting for the Q10, a BlackBerry 10 handset with a physical keyboard, expected in May or June.

Other major carriers including Sprint and T-Mobile have yet to announce their BlackBerry plans. T-Mobile says it will carry the Z10, while Sprint has only said it will carry the Q10. A potentially Z10-less Sprint led to rumors that the first all-touch BlackBerry 10 device for the carrier will be an as yet unannounced handset due out in early summer. Earlier reports said BlackBerry could release as many as six BB10 handsets in 2013.

This story, "AT&T, Verizon now accepting pre-orders for the $200 BlackBerry Z10" was originally published by TechHive.

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