BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 Upgrade for BB Z10, Q10, Passport, Z30, Z3, Q5 : Out Now in the Philippines

I have two BlackBerry 10 smartphones in my collection: The BlackBerry Z10 that has a full touchscreen and the Q10, which has a fretted keyboard just like the legendary BBs of old.

I must admit I hardly take them out these days -- but it's not because they aren't any good. In fact, I still use them at home to check my emails and my social networking accounts as well as to organize my calendar. And even if they're starting to show their age, when it comes to typing - both on a glass touchscreen or a tactile physical keyboard, these handsets are still top-notch. The only reason why they're not in my bag when I step of the house these past few months is that I already have newer phones with bigger displays and faster processors. I'm looking forward, though, to having another BlackBerry release in my daily smartphone line-up eventually -- hopefully, within this year.

BlackBerry Z10, BlackBerry Q10, BlackBerry 10

My BB Z10 and Q10 may not be the handsets that regularly join me in my meetings and events these days but I still love them as much as I love my LG G3, Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, O+ 360 Extreme, CM Selfie, Gionee Elife S5.5, and Meizu MX4 (those that are in the current 'rotation'). That's why I felt so happy when I learned that BlackBerry hasn't forgotten about these two amazing phones and has decided to release a firmware upgrade for them.

According to the legendary Canadian handset maker, BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.3.1 will begin rolling out globally today for in-market BlackBerry 10 devices, including the BlackBerry Passport, Z30, Z3, Z10, Q10, and Q5, as well as the Porsche Design P’9983 and P’9982 smartphones. (If you're wondering, BlackBery Classic is not included as it also ships with this version of the OS pre-installed.)

Once downloaded, users will gain access to incredible new enhancements, including BlackBerry Blend, BlackBerry Assistant, battery boosting technology, plus improvements to the BlackBerry Hub, calendar, camera, multimedia and more. This latest version also introduces dual app stores, offering access to hundreds of thousands of apps through the BlackBerry World storefront and the Amazon Appstore.

BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 offers a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that each user’s most commonly accessed functions are in the center of their screen. With this operating system update, users gain access to powerful features, including:

BlackBerry Blend - BlackBerry Blend brings messaging and content that is on your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet. Get instant message notifications, read and respond to your work and personal email, BBM and text messages, and access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry. BlackBerry Blend works across multiple operating systems including Mac, Windows, iOS and Android.

Dual app storefronts, offering hundreds of thousands of apps:

BlackBerry World - BlackBerry World showcases essential business and productivity apps for professionals looking to drive efficient communications and collaboration.

Amazon Appstore - The Amazon Appstore is the place to download popular Android apps and games including favorites like Candy Crush Saga, Pinterest, Kindle and Cut the Rope 2.

BlackBerry Assistant - The BlackBerry Assistant is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant and can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. It’s the only smartphone assistant on the market today that can access both personal and work content in your work perimeter. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it – if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with additional context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen.

BlackBerry Hub with Instant Actions - The one place to manage all your conversations – email, texts, BBM, phone calls, social media and more – just got better. The new instant actions feature allows you to quickly organize and action your inbox without having to go into each individual message or calendar invite. Toggle the read status and file, flag or delete an email message with a single tap. When you’re composing an email, you can now transfer the conversation to a voice call, SMS or meeting invite.

Time Saving Keyboard Shortcuts - Keyboard shortcuts are back for BlackBerry 10 smartphones with a physical QWERTY keyboard including the BlackBerry Q5, Q10, Passport and the Porsche Design P’9983 smartphone from BlackBerry. As you once could on your beloved BlackBerry Bold and as you can on the recently launched BlackBerry Classic, you can now make use of nearly every letter in the physical keyboard and give it an action like Speed Dial for a contact, or use them to launch your most-used apps. For example, from the Hub press “T” to get to the top of your inbox or “B” to get to the bottom to make short work of getting through your messages.

More Battery Power - You can now boost your battery life by up to 15 percent by customizing your Power Saving Profile. Quickly select the applications and functions you would like to restrict or remain active to conserve power.

New Camera Functions - The upgraded camera software automatically recommends modes and settings, including HDR when sharp contrast is detected and an enhanced Time Shift mode when faces are detected. Now you have the option to store your Time Shift captures and edit them into the perfect photo whenever you want. Get the whole picture by capturing a panorama. Our new camera also brings your most common modes and actions to the forefront – you’ll never need to switch between your camera and video recorder again. You can even record video and take pictures at the same time.

More Ways to Edit, Create, Sort and Listen to Media - Enjoy your media the way it was meant to sound, with 17 preset equalizer options for both music and video. With 10.3.1, you now have the ability to “Favorite” songs, photos or videos so they are always at your fingertips. With the new slow motion video edit feature and built in Story Maker, it’s never been easier to master your media and share it with the world.

A Calendar that Works for You - The new Meeting Mode option will automatically set your phone to quiet mode for the duration of your meeting, and then turn notifications back on when it’s over. Plus, a new weekly agenda view allows you to see your events and tasks for the selected week or month.

BBM Meetings - BBM Meetings offers business users a new way to work smarter and be more productive from any Android, iPhone, BlackBerry 10 smartphone or Windows PC or Mac. It combines a mobile-optimized user experience that allows on-the-go professionals to schedule, host and participate in meetings anywhere you have an internet connection. All at a fraction of the cost of other leading collaboration solutions.

Subject to carrier approvals, BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.3.1 will be rolling out to customers around the world, starting today in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, and will be available for the entire line of smartphones running BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry Classic comes pre-loaded with the software. Customers will receive a notification in the BlackBerry Hub when the software is ready for download. If they have enabled automatic software downloads, they will be notified in the BlackBerry Hub that the software is downloading.

I've already gotten a BlackBerry firmware upgrade notification on both of my handsets so, needless to say, the company has started rolling out this software update in the Philippines. To manually check if BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 is ready for download your smartphone, simply go to Settings, scroll down, and click on 'Software Updates'.