Review: BlackBerry Z10 is good stab at rebirth
BlackBerry diehards will lament the lack of a physical keyboard — they'll have to wait for the Q10, a model in the more traditional BlackBerry form. That's due this spring. But before writing off the Z10, these loyalists should try its on-screen keyboard. It's really very good. It provides more vertical space between the keys, imitating the steel bands that separated the hardware keys on the BlackBerry Bold. It's very accurate and easy to use.
The Z10 will also have a replaceable battery, something lacking on the iPhone. Screen quality will be good, too, at 356 pixels per inch, compared with 326 for the iPhone 5 and 306 for Samsung's Galaxy S III. Unlike the iPhone, the Z10 will allow you to expand storage with a microSD card, and it sports a chip letting the phone act as a credit card at some payment terminals and share data wirelessly when tapped against some other phones. The Z10 is heavier than the iPhone, though — at 4.78 ounces to the iPhone 5's 3.95 ounces.
So why does the Z10 and BlackBerry 10 face such an uphill battle?
Well, the library of third-party applications is the biggest reason. The iPhone and Android have a huge head start when it comes to getting developers to make applications that run on their phones. RIM says BlackBerry 10 will launch in the U.S. with about 100,000 apps. That sounds like a big number, and it includes important apps such as Skype and Facebook.
But it's inevitable that the iPhone will have apps you want but can't get on BlackBerry 10. There's no Instagram, no Netflix. It's also obvious that the number includes some apps that were written for the PlayBook tablet and don't work well on the smaller phone screen.
But the biggest obstacle to a RIM comeback is simply that the iPhone and Android have become the default for phone buyers, and few will see a reason to try something else. Microsoft, which has vastly more resources than RIM, has tried for two years to get people to buy Windows Phones, with very little to show for it.
BlackBerry 10 is nice, but I can't point to anything about it that would make me say: "Forget those other phones: you have to buy this one."
Peter Svensson can be reached at http://twitter.com/petersvensson
About the BlackBerry Z10:
It's the first of the phones to use the BlackBerry 10 operating system, an attempt to bring the once-pioneering BlackBerry in line with the iPhone and Android devices. It's not coming in the U.S. until March. All major carriers will have it, likely for about $200 with a two-year service contract.
The Z10 will have only a touch-screen keyboard. BlackBerry fans wanting a physical keyboard will have to wait at least a month for the BlackBerry Q10.
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