As the first wave of BlackBerry Z10 Reviews by media trusted by BlackBerry hit the web, and from our own hands-on experience with the developer unit, here are the 5 takeaways from today’s launch and the first appearance of the final version of the BlackBerry OS. On the menu: industrial design, battery life and more…
1/ BlackBerry 10 is a great OS
If one thing can save BlackBerry (the company), it’s a good software foundation for the future. Clearly, the previous operating system could not evolve much more, and switching to QNX is a sound move. Today’s demonstration was convincing and the initial support from high-profile developers is too. Now, Blackberry needs to convince the larger development community to get on board and they will need to show that money can be made with BlackBerry Apps. It’s as simple as that.
We find the Operating System user Interface to be sound and efficient, and we expect pretty much every review to agree with this. The Keyboard efficiency is impressive, and to date, this is probably the best virtual keyboard on the market. Others should take notice and improve their own. The iPhone keyboard in particular has not really evolved in years, and it is already behind the curve when compared to Android competitors.
2/ The Industrial Design will not win a unanimous vote
While the Blackberry Z10 looks pretty decent, and is universally recognized as being comfortable to use, it is clear that there is not going to be a consensus that it is a great industrial design. Our own take is that it is a bit biased towards an “Enterprise” look, which is basically a bit less prone to scratches mild shocks. It’s a bit like Lenovo Laptops. The white version may be perceived differently, but we have yet to play with one.
3/ Processing power is not the main selling point
The big missing part is the hardware details (other than dual-core, 2GB of RAM, LTE when possible), and we’re just about sure that when they will surface, they won’t particularly impress. That’s why BlackBerry didn’t spend a significant amount of time talking about it. Most likely, the Q10 and the Z10 are using widely commercialized chips that have a proven track record. From the screen to the SoC, nothing extra-ordinary will come out of the hardware specs.
It’s smart, because the Blackberry 10 OS is fast enough that they don’t need hardware on steroid to run fast and smooth. On the other hand, Android devices do sell because they have the best hardware. The arms race may come to BlackBerry in time, but for now, they just can’t afford it.
4/ Battery life is short
This is probably the only real trouble with the Blackberry Z10: heavy users will have a tough time making it through a busy day, and given that BlackBerry users tend to be “heavy” users, that’s not a good sign. Again, this is something that even the most trusted media who got the device ahead of the launch pointed out, so it’s definitely real. Again, it comes down to economics. The battery is one of the more expensive components of a phone, and it’s not easy (but so necessary) to “power-up” when your company is in trouble. It’s up to the users to decide, but hopefully BlackBerry can hang on and fix this next year…
5/ Conclusion : mid-range phone that can revive the BlackBerry brand
Despite not being a high-end phone, the BlackBerry Z10 has a good chance of fueling a BlackBerry come back. Maybe not a big come back to what it was, but a good thrust to get away from where they are now. BlackBerry itself says that this is “the start line, not the finish line”.
The hardest part is differentiation. And that’s where reviewers diverge. On one hand, some say that BlackBerry does nothing really better than the competition. On the other hand, some believe that this has mainstream appeal. BlackBerry users are a prime target for an upgrade which would bring them a good browsing experience and better “everything”, but convincing iOS and Android customers to migrate should prove difficult.
We think that BlackBerry does a few things much better than the competition, namely the keyboard and the flow. However, will that be enough to take customers away? Difficult at best, but definitely worth checking out, if you are on the fence.
Are you convinced?