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BlackBerry Z10 smartphone: Bloggers, tech sites praise hardware, mixed on software

John Cox | Feb. 4, 2013
Early testers don't see Android, iPhone users making leap to BlackBerry 10 in big numbers.

The all-important display is equally "handsome," he writes. "I found its color reproduction, clarity, and touch response to be among the best I've used. That said, the screen's backlight seemed noticeably darker than many devices I compared it to ..." The phone's overall performance was "generally snappy and responsive."

His assessment of the BlackBerry 10 UI is more mixed. He says the basic set of concepts and gestures "would be difficult to discover without a tutorial [one of which BlackBerry forces the phone's user to go through], yet seem obvious once you've mastered them. That is to say the OS is not especially intuitive, but it works well and makes sense despite that fact."

But he concluded that the implementation of the UI creates a "feeling of unpredictability." A user can't control "which apps remain open or where they're located, you also don't have a consistent sense of where to find certain pieces of information." The unified inbox of BlackBerry Hub "is a great idea, but having to deal with both your actual inbox and your notifications on the same level creates complications that I think could be mitigated," although he says the Hub concept "actually ... works quite well."

"After a couple of days with the device, I found my frustration was significantly reduced, and I was actually enjoying some of the workflows of the device. In particular, I think BlackBerry's concept of the upward swipe to take you home works as it should -- I didn't find myself wishing for a home button," Topolsky writes.

Battery life was "deeply disappointing." Sometimes the Z10 "could not make it through an entire workday without requiring a recharge or battery swap."

Though BlackBerry says there are 70,000 apps available, Topolsky writes, "Unfortunately, while testing the device I felt like it was really something like 69,000 really mediocre (or just plain bad) applications." The catalog also includes some number of Android apps, which run on the phone via a software emulator for Android 2.3. Topolsky says you can't know from the catalog whether the app you're downloading is Android or BlackBerry 10 ... until you run it. "The Android apps I tested while using the Z10 performed abysmally on the phone," he writes. "Sluggish, ugly, and disconnected from the core OS."

His conclusion: "The Z10 is a good smartphone," he writes. "Frankly, it's a better smartphone than I expected from RIM at this stage in the game. ... The problem with the Z10 is that it doesn't necessarily do anything better than any of its competition."

Writing for CNET, Jessica Dolcourt concluded that existing BlackBerry fans will be happy finally to get a real smartphone but the Z10 won't "draw committed iPhone or Android owners."


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