BlackBerry Z10 Smartphone Is, as Promised, a New Paradigm
Information feels very accessible, from wherever you are in the OS—which is the benefit of Flow, or the way one moves between the screens. From anywhere a user can swipe halfway up the screen with a thumb and see icons pop up on the left depicting new information: seven new emails and 18 Facebook updates, for example. Keep that thumb pressed and move it to the right and one can Peek into the Hub (or one of its delineations) for a more involved update—such as to see exactly who the new emails are from. However, even before taking either one of those actions—swiping up or over—a flashing light at the top of the phone alerts a user to something new. If you're watching a video and waiting for a text, you don't have to keep checking, the light will let you know when something arrives. When the light flashes, you can Peek over—the video won't stop, unless you see that it's the information you're waiting for and you swipe the screen all the way aside and lift your thumb. Using the Z10 over a few days, there was a learning process. I had the feeling I've had after moving to new cities—the awkwardness of not quite knowing my way, while having no doubts that I soon would and when I did it would be great. Navigating BB10 feels efficient, and when efficient is something you need to be, using the Z10 is very satisfying.The app store is said to have the top 1,000 apps—which some analysts say is what's most important; no one really needs 700,000 apps. But what that likely means is many regional and local apps are still missing. I generally use far fewer apps than the average person, but the few I did go looking for—the New York-friendly Seamless and HopStop—weren't there. Neither was Roadify—the great iPhone app that also isn't available for Android. (That said, as much as I don't use apps often, with the Z10, I used them far more frequently. BB10 just makes it more convenient to, and to quickly move between them.) The Z10 also has a terrible accelerometer. Often I'd turn the phone from portrait to landscape mode but the phone wouldn't realize it, or it would realize it only after a several-second delay. The camera also isn't great. The rear camera takes excellent, 1080p high-definition (HD) video, but in low-light conditions, the camera behaves in a way that Apple and others began addressing a generation of devices ago. BlackBerry will need to catch up. The same goes for its overall hardware. While it's refreshing that BlackBerry 10 is so compelling that the general conversation about the Z10 has been more on software than hardware, the fact is that people like a great-looking phone. They want a phone that impresses when they set it on the table. BlackBerry, to again be a winning brand, needs to stand toe-to-toe with everything Apple and Samsung can dream up. This means that the next BlackBerry 10 devices are going to need to be as impressive in appearance as the Z10 is in experience. Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.
That is not to say it's perfect.