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Apple and Google have nothing to fear from BlackBerry 10 -- but Microsoft does

Galen Gruman | Feb. 1, 2013
Hands-on review: BlackBerry 10 is a big step up, but it's awkward to use in key areas

The BlackBerry 10 OS has a Siri-like feature called Voice Control that lets you speak some commands for it to execute, such as "take a note." The voice is harsher than Siri's, and the commands more limited, but it works. Press the center button in the volume rocker to start it.

The BlackBerry 10 OS's Web browser is fast as promised. The browser has the bookmarking features you'd expect, as well as the Reader feature that Apple debuted in iOS and OS X to show just the text of a Web page when desired.

The WebKit-based browser is the most HTML5-compatible browser yet, according to the HTML5test.com benchmarks. It scores 485 points out of a possible 600, versus 386 for iOS's Safari, 390 for Android's Chrome (the browser in the Google Nexus series), 434 for Android's Browser (which other vendors' Android devices use), and 320 for Windows Phone 8's Internet Explorer. In fact, the BlackBerry 10 browser beats all desktop browsers as well.

But it sometimes has trouble displaying images, not consistently sizing them properly to the mobile screen as iOS and Android do. Although it did well with AJAX sites I tested, it had trouble with some JavaScript menus in that it would not keep them open if the item that opens the menu is itself a link. Overall, this is a top-notch browser missing only the kinds of sharing and sophisticated bookmark organization found in iOS's Safari.

Why Microsoft should worry

Given the superior user experience and capabilities of iOS and Android, it's unlikely any of them would switch to BlackBerry willingly. Even with its flaws, the BlackBerry 10 OS is better thanWindows Phone 8, which is less capable and less refined. And let's be honest: Blackberry 10 OS is a good mobile OS in its own right.

The combination of the BlackBerry faithful eagerly awaiting a modern BlackBerry OS (which the BlackBerry 10 OS certainly is), a portion of the people yet to commit to a smartphone platform, and the disgruntled Windows Phone 7.5 users who found out after the fact that their smartphones would never run Windows Phone 8 could be enough to double BlackBerry's current sales to 10 percent of the market -- that's enough to keep BlackBerry in business.

 

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