You know what it is like when you find your long lost pair of comfy shoes – reliving the moment when you slide your feet into them and let out a long (sometimes silent) “ahhhhhhhhhhh”? Well that’s how I felt when I started using the new BlackBerry Z10. It’s been a mobiles world without a strong BlackBerry showing in recent times – and although we know brands come and go, I couldn’t bring myself to speak about BlackBerry in the past tense. The sheer volume of users around the globe kept that glimmer of hope alive that we would see something new and exciting from BlackBerry.

Well I am pleased to say that those of us who kept the faith have been rewarded by the folks at BlackBerry (formerly known as Research In Motion – RIM). Not only a new company name – but a new look.

You may recall that one of my technology barometers is the New York subway – as you get a fairly clear picture of what is “in” and what is “out”.  For years, before rapid growth of white corded head phones took over the rail system commuters, BlackBerry was THE device of choice – for business executives and the general public alike. (BlackBerry even broke the corporate stodginess of conservative black devices to market a range of colours targeted at “soccer mums”. In a world texting and email rule, the BlackBerry was top of the pile. As touch screen based handsets became more popular, BlackBerry evolved with hybrid touch screen and slide out keyboard models that would appeal to both their traditional market and the touch screen generation.

Over ensuing years, the proliferation of smart phones offering a wide and competitive range of features that was once BlackBerry’s domain (especially secure corporate email) led to a shift in the NY Subway barometer.

Fast forward to the present – and BlackBerry have found themselves in a whole new world. Not quite as much of a culture shock in the Rip Van Winkle vein – they didn’t sleep away 100 years – but they have had to morph into a new look and feel. To their credit, I believe they have done a great job.

The business market today is well and truly riding the wave of BYOD – bring your own device – where employees are also consumers – and are insisting on using their own handsets – albeit with security and possible split monthly accounts – in their “day jobs”. So the challenge was, as the saying goes, to build a better mousetrap. The new BlackBerry had to have all the smarts historically identified with a BlackBerry, as well as both fit in and stand out in the new consumer driven market. No easy task.

The Z10 has been redesigned, re-engineered and reinvented. It is a totally new BlackBerry. Featuring a super sharp 4.2” LCD HD screen, the Z10’s Dual Core 1.5GHz processor supports multitasking without lag. With a Blue Tick certification, the Z10 is an obvious choice to perform well on both Telstra’s Next G and 4G networks. 16GB of internal memory is provided, and this can be expanded to 32GB.

I have often talked about the importance of catering for the “work and play” phone user. What I use at work is not necessarily the phone I want to have with me after hours. The Z10 has tackled this head on – offering what I consider the best example to date of work/life balance in a mobile handset.  BlackBerry Balance gives you a Personal and a Work tab on your phone – so you can keep your personal details separate and private from your work details. Moving between them is as easy as swiping your finger across the screen. BlackBerry has addressed the BYOD question head on.

You can share details with another BlackBerry device via NFC. Using BlackBerry Tag you can swap contact details, photos and more. Probably one of the most refreshing features of the Z10 is the browser. I no longer hesitate to launch a website using a BlackBerry. I found the experience to be simple, fast and quote frankly, what I would expect in today’s web based world. The Z10 utilises page rendering and has a built in sharing facility with the popular social networks. Find a web page and share it with your friends on Facebook.

The BlackBerry remembers. No matter if it is where you like to share websites or what phrases you regularly type, the Z10 “learns” as it goes and adapts this learning meet your daily requirements. How many times have you been poised to capture that perfect shot only to find your reactions were too slow or the subject closed their eyes, and you missed it? Thanks to Time Shift, the Z10 captures milliseconds before and after your photo, allowing you to scroll back and pick the best parts and compose that perfect shot.

I must admit it took me a while to be comfortable about moving from a keyboard based handset to a touch screen when typing longer emails. The Z10 has an intelligent on-screen keyboard that picks up your regular typing mistakes and substitutes the correct letter. It also suggests words that would logically go next as you start to type them. Using a flicking motion of your finger you can send that word into the text screen and move on to the next word. It really does improve your typing speed.

The nerve centre of the Z10 is the BlackBerry Hub. As part of the operating system redesign, the Hub allows you to move from email to social media to calendar to sharing at the touch of the screen.

The one thing that can make a good phone great is the availability of applications. Whilst BlackBerry World has not yet reached the number of applications on iOS or Android, it’s only a matter of time. A very nice feature included in the Z10 allows you to run Android applications in compatibility mode.

I recommend you check out all the features on the BlackBerry website. There are a series of videos on the site that step you through the world that is Z10.

BlackBerry Z10 goes on sale Tuesday 26 March through Telstra (today). Look out for the exclusive white model.

In conclusion, let me say welcome back BlackBerry – I missed you!