Z10 and BB10: Are BlackBerry's new launches worth your time?

BlackBerry 10 is here. How do the new operating system and the new BlackBerry phone, the Z10, stack up? 

A new Blackberry Z10 is displayed at a branch of UK retailer Phones 4U in central London, Jan. 31, 2013.

Earlier this week, the company formerly known as RIM – and now dubbed plain ol' BlackBerrytook the wraps off a new operating system and a shiny new phone. The operating system is BlackBerry 10 and the phone is the Z10, and both of them are pretty big deals for BlackBerry, which has a lot of catching up to do in the coming months. But are they any good? 

In an effort to save you a lot of clicking around, we've collected some thoughts of our own and from around the Internet; for simplicity's sake, we've split everything into three different categories. 

The phone

First, the Z10. Let's face it – this thing is a bit square, in every sense of the word. It's got an unpretentious, workmanlike design and a lot of hard edges. Then again, the traditional BlackBerry market demographic has always been businesspeople, who care less about flash than functionality. 

"BlackBerry's BlackBerry Z10 is genuinely a pretty nice phone," writes Tim Stevens of Engadget. "Performance, helped by the lightweight QNX-based OS, is more than acceptable. The form factor offers you plenty of screen size in a device that may not feel luxurious, but does at least seem durable. And, bucking the trend, the battery is removable. Camera performance is adequate in most cases and overall there's really a lot to like."

"Adequate" seems also to describe the processing power of the Z10, according to Stuart Miles of Pocket-lint. 

"You feel that [the Z10] says, 'This is the speed you should be working at,' rather than you ever thinking it's going too fast," Miles writes. "If that sounds disappointing, it shouldn't. The OS is responsive, but if you've ever used an Android device, you'll know that the ability to scroll through your home screens is slowed only by how fast you can swipe with your finger and that isn't the case here." 

The apps

Well, there sure are a lot of them – 70,000 BB10 apps in all, according to BlackBerry. Of course, as Gary Cutlack of Gizmodo UK is quick to point out, a good portion of those 40,000 apps are actually "frantic Android port jobs." Meanwhile, over at ZDNet, Matthew Miller takes a spin through the BB10 app ecosystem, and finds a few titles he likes, including Angry Birds Star Wars and Flixster.

But there are also a lot of good apps missing, Miller continues, from Spotify to Netflix, and no especially easy way to find new ones. "App discovery is as bad on BB10 as the PlayBook [tablet] with no easy way to browse all free apps and very limited featured sections," Miller writes. "I found the best way to discover apps is to search for ones you use on other platforms." Ouch.

The software

Of course, to a certain extent, neither the phone nor the apps selection matters much if the software isn't any good. So how good is the software, exactly? Well, over at CNET, Jessica Dolcourt finds a whole lot of quirks and "perplexing omissions." But she also finds a lot to like. 

"With its richly designed graphical interface," Dolcourt writes, "BlackBerry 10 is a mobile OS for grown-ups. Its spin on the virtual keyboard gives RIM plenty to boast about, its enhanced BlackBerry Messenger app is exactly as it should be, and the innovative BlackBerry Balance feature will be a certain type of business user's dream."

But you better love swiping, writes Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch

"BB10 is all about swiping to navigate. You swipe up to wake the devices, swipe right to check out BlackBerry Hub and view your notifications, swipe left to access your currently running apps and the home screen, and swipe down to check out both system-wide and app-specific settings," he writes. "Overall, while it’s different, it’s a surprisingly intuitive experience, and one that exceeds the tacked-on touch experience of BB OS 7 and earlier." 

Thinking about picking up a Z10? Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter@CSMHorizonsBlog

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