BlackBerry Z10 Review: Hands On with the First BlackBerry 10 Smartphone

The first BlackBerry 10 smartphone, the BlackBerry Z10, packs some unique features and functionality, including an industry-best virtual keyboard. But while the Z10 is a huge step in the right direction for BlackBerry, according to CIO.com's Al Sacco, it alone won't save the struggling company. This BlackBerry Z10 review explains why.

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The BlackBerry 10 software is smooth and snappy, and I've seen very little lag. It also feels like no other mobile OS, and that's refreshing. The new virtual keyboard is the best touch-screen keyboard on the market today. BlackBerry packaged some truly unique and valuable multimedia features in BlackBerry 10, including the TimeShift camera setting and the Story Maker video-montage tool.

BBM, long one of BlackBerry's most popular offerings, now supports video calling between BlackBerry 10 smartphone over Wi-Fi and cellular networks. But the OS and native applications are still a bit buggy, and that's really disappointing, especially when you consider the amount of time the company spent working on its new OS.

BlackBerry 10 also lacks quality apps from big name developers and corporations. Many of these large developers probably feel as though they don't need to rush into development for BlackBerry 10 due to their success with Android or iOS application. So they could be waiting to see how well the platform is received before investing. It's possible that BlackBerry World could see an influx of quality, popular apps in the coming months. But right now I'm not impressed with the app selection.

BlackBerry's biggest challenge right now is drawing users away from rival platforms, but the average consumer is not going to drop his or her iPhone or Android smartphone for the Z10 or Q10 if they can't use the apps they've come to rely on. It's that simple.

I've asked myself repeatedly since I received the BlackBerry Z10: Could I ditch my Android phone completely and use only the Z10? The answer is no. Not yet at least. And that says an awful lot.

Yet the BlackBerry Z10 is a huge step in the right direction for the company. If you're looking for a high-end, touch-screen smartphone that feels different than the iPhone, Android or any other mobile OS - and you're not too concerned with the lack of quality BlackBerry 10 apps - you'll find a friend in the Z10. But if you want a healthy selection of the most popular mobile apps and the best overall mobile experience available today, you probably want to look elsewhere.

The million dollar question: Can BlackBerry 10 save BlackBerry and get these new devices into the hands of the iOS-or-Android-toting masses? Yes, it could. But the Z10 alone will not save BlackBerry, and even if it is well received by smartphone users, the Z10 represents only the first step on the long and winding road to recovery for the BlackBerry maker.

AS

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at asacco@cio.com

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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