Hands-On: RIM's BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Developer Kit

RIM has kept mum on hardware offerings for its next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system, despite assurances that the company will have the OS ready to ship this fall. We did, however, get some hands-on time with the company's BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha developer kit. The device is being handed out to developers here at BlackBerry World so they can begin creating new apps for BB10 in earnest.

Thus far, the only specs we've been able to crimp from the developer kit is its screen size, 4.4 inches, and resolution 1280 x 768 and internal storage capacity, 16GB. Beyond that there has been little information available about the device. The kit's thin, rectangular chassis is something you would expect to see roll out with an Android or Windows Phone logo rather than the telltale BlackBerry symbol.

Obviously the most jarring thing you'll notice when you pick up the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device is that it lacks a proper BlackBerry-style physical keyboard. The hardware keyboard has been one of the biggest selling points for BlackBerry smartphones and the loss of it in favor of a touchscreen keyboard could prove to be either a big step forward for RIM or alienate its core user base.

On its left side are micro-HDMI and micr0-USB slots. The top edge is home to 3.5 mm headphone jack, while the right side holds the device's silver volume rocker. Beyond that, the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha kit is as nondescript as you can get when it comes to a smartphone, which is expected of a developer kit.

Don't expect to find any signs of BlackBerry 10 running under the device's hood. That's because the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha kit isn't running RIM's next-gen operating system, but is instead powered by a scaled down version of RIM's PlayBook 2.0 OS which was labeled as 10.0.4 in the phone's settings menu. But because both the PlayBook 2.0 OS and BlackBerry 10 are based on RIM's QNX technology, developers shouldn't run into any problems moving between the two operating systems.

In terms of performance, BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha proved to be rather speedy as we switched from menu to menu. Browser speeds were also surprisingly quick. That's essentially it for now. We'll keep you updated as we get more information here at BlackBerry World.