BlackBerry Z10 Announcement and Review Roundup
Blackberry Fans your day has come!!! The new Blackberry Z10 is here and will be out in the US within a couple months but it’ll be out in the UK this week! I’ll be sure to post my impressions once I get my hands on a review unit! But for now take a look at the various reviews from around the web!
Via Wall Street Journal
By Matthew Lynley
sorry, BlackBerry, the company’s new name — unveiled its new BlackBerry phones at a big event in New York today.
So far, a lot of tech reporters had plenty of time to play with the device, and have already chimed in with their thoughts. It’s an eerie echo to when Palm launched the Palm Pre: a great piece of hardware and software, but a very uncertain future ahead.
For example, many praised some of the new features, like the 8 megapixel camera and the solid build of the device. But the lack of a huge number of popular apps (even though it’s starting with 70,000) and a less-than-awesome experience running Android apps doesn’t bode well for the device, according to reviewers.
The entire company is basically riding on BlackBerry’s new BB10 phones. So far it looks like they are okay, but it’s not immediately clear whether they will convince a lot of existing iPhone and Android users to switch over.
Here’s a roundup of what some of the top tech enthusiasts on the web are saying about the new phone.
The new BlackBerry 10 user interface has experienced a significant overhaul, with many of the original points being replaced with swipes and gestures to control most of the experience. For example, you can flow between apps and actions with a few gestures of your thumb.
This is largely seen as a good thing. The New York Times’ David Pogue writes, “some of BlackBerry 10’s ideas are truly ingenious. A subtle light blinks above the screen to indicate that something — a text, an e-mail message, voice mail Facebook FB +1.25% post — is waiting for you. Without even pressing a physical button, you swipe up the screen; the Lock screen lifts like a drape as you slide your thumb, revealing what’s underneath. It’s fast and cool.”
But it’s certainly not for everyone. “The Z10′s unintuitive gesture paradigm creates a learning curve, and a long list of OS inefficiencies and omissions sour the experience. The bare-bones maps app and a deficit of camera features are two examples,”CNet’s Jessica Dolcourt writes.
The new BlackBerry Z10 features a virtual keyboard that has a predictive text mechanism built into it. When you type a letter, words that the BlackBerry predicts you will type next will appear above the keys. You can swipe the key, and it will input the entire word.
It’s a big plus for the phone. WSJ’s Walt Mossberg writes, “The Z10 keyboard is the best and fastest out-of-the-box virtual keyboard I’ve used. Master BlackBerry thumb typists might not find it as fast as the traditional physical keyboard, but, for a one-finger typist like me, it was faster and more accurate than either the native keyboards on the iPhone or Android.”
Writes Engadget’s Tim Stevens: ”The virtual keyboard in BlackBerry 10 is good. Really good. It’s the best stock keyboard of any mobile OS at the moment — a good thing, because there’s no way to replace it. It starts with a comfortable layout, which includes rows of generously sized keys separated by gray bars meant to evoke the chrome ones found on many a BlackBerry QWERTY handset in the past. This gives even meaty thumbs plenty of space for hunting and pecking, but that’s only the beginning.”
The new BlackBerry Z10 phone is well-built, but it’s nothing to write home about, according to reviewers.
There are especially a few questions when it comes to the screen. Boy Genius Report’s Jonathan Geller writes, “There’s just an instantly noticeable different feel compared to the iPhone 5, Nexus 4 and other phones when you’re using the display. Your finger glides over the aforementioned smartphone screens, whereas it’s sometimes bizarrely difficult to flick or scroll on the Z10. The best way to describe it is that there is literally friction against your finger when you try to swipe. As far as durability, the BlackBerry Z10 doesn’t feature a Gorilla Glass panel but RIM told me it has some of the same durability features.”
Mossberg writes: “The Z10 is basically a chunky plastic slab, midway in size and weight between the tall, slim iPhone 5 and the bigger, wider crop of new Android models. I found it felt good in the hand. Its high-resolution 4.2-inch screen is a bit bigger than the iPhone’s 4-inch display, though much smaller than many newer Android screens, which are creeping toward 5 inches.”
The camera has been significantly overhauled for the Z10, including a new feature that lets you “rewind time” in order to select the best picture. The idea is that, if someone blinked while you were taking a photo, you can select a photo taken a split-second earlier instead after taking what feels like a single picture.
“Budding photographers will also notice scant options and controls. There’s no HDR, no ISO settings, no grid, no geotagging, no option to drop resolution, and — one of its worst offenses in my opinion — no way to silence the shutter’s loud clacking,” Dolcourt writes.
“It took me a while to understand how to even focus the camera and how to take pictures. There is a super cool feature that allows you to take photos of people and literally go back in time on individual faces to pick the best expression in case someone blinked or didn’t smile at the right time. You can use a jog wheel to go forward or back and pick the right shot for the photo, and this works with multiple people in one frame. It’s insanely cool, though it doesn’t work all of the time, especially if the subjects aren’t perfectly still,” Geller writes.
And now onto the eternal question: Will it have enough apps to compete with the iPhone’s 800,000-some-odd apps? Does it have some of the top apps?
To get around this, BlackBerry 10 runs some Android apps, but it isn’t the best experience, according to The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky.
Topolsky writes, “The Android apps I tested while using the Z10 performed abysmally on the phone. Sluggish, ugly, and disconnected from the core OS. In fact, because these apps are being run in a software emulation of Android — Gingerbread no less (that’s version 2.3) — they bear little to no relationship to the rest of the operating system.”
“That’s a well-stocked salad bar, but it’s not the whole grocery. Most of the big-name apps are already there (Skype, Yelp, Twitter, Spotify, Foursquare, Dropbox, Angry Birds and so on), but a few important ones are still missing: Netflix, Draw Something, Pinterest, Hipstamatic, Instagram and most airline and bank apps,” Pogue writes.
The Bottom Line
Jonathan Geller, Boy Genius Report: “Why jump into battle with the beast when you can take on the monkeys? Why not launch BlackBerry 10 on a low or mid-range smartphone focused on markets outside of the United States and Canada at first? BlackBerry 10 is a great upgrade for BlackBerry users, but it’s not unique or polished enough at this point to grab existing high-end smartphone users. Not in the U.S. or in several other top-tier markets.”
Jessica Dolcourt, CNET: “But this time around, the Z10 represents more than just itself. With its first BlackBerry 10 device, RIM stands at a crossroads, bearing the weight of its unevenly-provisioned OS. On the one hand, BlackBerry 10 is a brand-spankin’-new mobile platform that can only grow and mature. On the other, RIM has had plenty of maturation time, drawing on a legacy of secure e-mail and messaging that predates the iPhone takeover. BlackBerry 10 wasn’t some rush job; RIM all but suspended production for years to work on the hardware and software to make the Z10. For a future that hinges on this first device, shouldn’t there be fewer missteps?
David Pogue, The New York Times: “Well, BlackBerry’s Hail Mary pass, its bet-the-farm phone, is finally here. It’s the BlackBerry Z10, and guess what? It’s lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas. And here’s the shocker — it’s complete. The iPhone, Android and Windows Phone all entered life missing important features. Not this one; BlackBerry couldn’t risk building a lifeboat with leaks.”
Tim Stevens, Engadget: “As a replacement for older versions of BlackBerry OS, BB 10 is a huge step out of the dark ages of mobile OS design. It’s something that finally feels intended for a modern, full-touch device, yet still offers the core productivity focus we think BBID-holders will like. Does it have mainstream appeal? Yes, it does, but we’re not sure a great stock keyboard and some trick gestures are enough to unseat the current kings of mobile devices.”
Josh Topolsky, The Verge: “The problem with the Z10 is that it doesn’t necessarily do anything better than any of its competition. Sure, there are arguments that could be made about how it handles messages or the particulars of its camera, but no one could argue that there’s a “killer app” here.”
Walt Mossberg, WSJ: “The Z10 and BB10 represent a radical reinvention of the BlackBerry. The hardware is decent and the user interface is logical and generally easy to use. I believe it has a chance of getting RIM back into the game, if the company can attract a lot more apps.”