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The BlackBerry of the future Handson with the BB10powered Z10

first_imgThe company formerly known as RIM took to the stage yesterday with plenty of new things to share. It was clear, however, that the star of the show was the new BlackBerry Z10 running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. It’s been a while since a BlackBerry phone has been cause for excitement, so I went hands-on to see what this smartphone was made of.The Z10’s HardwareThe BlackBerry Z10 is an unfortunate slab of plastic and glass. I say unfortunate because it looks like every other phone out there. The first few comments on social networks regarding the phone when the BlackBerry logo was covered up mislabeled the phone as either an iPhone or any of a half dozen of Android phones. Laying on a shelf with any other circa-2012 smartphone, there’s nothing about the design that makes the Z10 stand out.Once you pick the phone up, however, you begin to feel the character of the Z10. The back of this handset is textured so that you can comfortably hold it without resorting to any kind of death grip. The 4.2-inch screen is flush against the bezel, offering just enough texture at the edges of the display to let you know you’ve reached the end of the screen. You have to reach just a bit to hit the power button in the center of the Z10’s top, but the phone is otherwise perfectly comfortable to hold with one hand.The BlackBerry Z10 is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset with 2GB of RAM. The phone supports Bluetooth 4.0 as well as NFC, with a dual-band 802.11n WiFi connection as well. Depending on which carrier you are purchasing the phone on, you’ll have access to HSPA+ as well as LTE. The IPS LCD display offers a 1280 x 768 resolution at 356ppi. With the microUSB and microHDMI ports on this phone side-by-side, it wouldn’t shock me to see a dock in the future for both work and play.On paper, this phone is more than comparable to the iPhone 5 and most Android phones on the market today. When you hold the phone in your hand, the combination of these specs builds a phone that slows down for nothing. Even with the maximum number of running apps, which are called Active Frames in BB10, the phone’s animations never stutter or slow. Every gesture is just as smooth as the last, from the BlackBerry Hub through to the sliding animations when flipping through pages of apps. It’s clear that BlackBerry 10 was optimized for this hardware, and the Z10 has sufficient hardware to last the user for a while.The Z10’s OS: BlackBerry 10BlackBerry 10 is an interesting combination of things that you have already experienced if you’ve used Android, iOS, and WebOS before. BlackBerry has clearly been paying attention as the mobile ecosystem has evolved around it, and the team responsible for the latest version of the software has clearly taken cues from that research. The pulldown settings menu feels very much like Android, while the “breathing” pulse of apps that move as you shift them around on your home pages is a page right out of iOS.The infamous Cards UI from WebOS is perhaps the most prevalent in the way you interact with running apps. Any time you swipe up from the bottom screen, the current running app is sent to the Active Frames section of the homepage. While the app continues to run in the background, displaying information in its shrunken format, you can bring it back any time by tapping on the center of the frame.The only obvious downside to this system is that, unless your Active Frames are full, you never close an app when you leave it. To close an app, you must tap the “x” in the bottom right hand corner of the Active Frame. This isn’t such a big deal for most things, but aesthetically it seems wasteful to have an empty search box sitting in the Active Frames.BB10 AppsBlackBerry World is not a new approach to digital content by any stretch. Like the Google Play Store for Android, BlackBerry world exists as a unified location for apps, music, and movies. Where BlackBerry world stands above the Play Store is in searching for content, though a lot of that is likely due to the staggering difference when it come to the volume of content available on Google Play versus BlackBerry World. I did not find myself wanting for anything when searching for apps in BlackBerry World.When compared to the apps I use most, save for Google Apps, there was either the exact app I was looking for or a reasonable facsimile. I’m sure that if I went item for item down the 100 most popular apps on iOS or Android I would find more than a few missing, but all of my day to day apps were there. If BlackBerry is able to keep developers actively contributing to the platform, they should have no problem being competitive compared to Windows Phone 8.Can it claim third place?In the past, the things that kept users hooked to BlackBerry was the office. BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Enterprise have long since died for many people. The security features and encryption features in BlackBerry 10 may be reasons to keep existing BlackBerry users, but it’s not going to be a significant pull for new users. Those who have already left BlackBerry for another platform have found a way to keep their personal and professional lives on one piece of hardware already, and as more and more companies support the Bring Your Own Device philosophy that group of people is only going to increase.The BlackBerry Z10 is an attempt to bring consumers back to BlackBerry, and I think that the phone does a great job providing everything a user needs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide a compelling reason for an iPhone or Android user to decouple themselves from the ecosystems that Apple and Google have built, and that will be the biggest reason users will not give the Z10 more than a few seconds of attention in the search for their next smartphone.More: iPhone 5 vs. the BlackBerry Z10last_img read more