BlackBerry 10 and Z10 Review: BlackBerry Catches Up


The Z10 with BlackBerry 10 comes with many of the standard preloaded apps you'd expect -- photos, video, BlackBerry's BBM app (which now supports voice and video calls), important social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare, and a new Maps app. As Apple has shown us, building a Maps app from scratch is no easy task and BlackBerry's own Maps app fails in a lot of the same places. The 2-D maps are as bare-bones as they come, it's slow to zoom and missing are a lot of key points of interest (no ABC News and no 5 Napkin Burger). Even worse for BlackBerry is that there are no other alternatives in its app store. No Google Maps, though accessing it through the browser is snappy.

And that's one of the main reasons I found myself spending a lot of the time in the browser. Not because it is fast and provides a smooth browsing experience, but because the app store lacks a number of the apps I use the most. While BlackBerry World -- no, not a new amusement park -- will launch with 70,000 apps (compared to Apple and Google's 700,000), many of the ones I use on a daily basis -- Seamless Web, Instagram, Yelp, YouTube, Spotify, etc. -- aren't available for the new operating system. BlackBerry does have a number of the big players signed up, including Facebook, Twitter, Rovio (Angry Birds), Rdio, Skype and others, but many of the popular apps are simply not available for the BlackBerry 10 platform.

Additionally, some of the apps, like Twitter and Facebook, are just not as robust as the ones for the other phones out there. Both apps have bugs and limited features compared to the apps for Android and the iPhone. (For instance, you can't delete a Facebook post from the app -- something I was not happy about when I mistakenly posted something.)

As I was testing the BlackBerry, Twitter's new Vine app made its way to the iPhone. Vine isn't available yet for Android phones, but you can bet it will be coming to the platform soon. After that Microsoft's Windows Phone will likely be the next platform and somewhere after that will be BlackBerry 10. That's the unfortunate reality of BlackBerry's lost time.

Bottom Line
The Z10 is a fully modern BlackBerry. It's fast, has a mobile browser that beats many of the others and an outstanding software keyboard. No, its battery life and camera are not as strong as the competition, but its bigger issue lies with the fact that it runs a brand new operating system. The new software does offer something different than the others, but overall it (the maps and other features like voice control) and its app store lack the robustness of Apple's, Google's and even Microsoft's offerings.

It's 2013 and it's going to be very hard for BlackBerry to build up that BBM list of mine again. BlackBerry might have caught up with the times, but so have we. BlackBerry 10 and the Z10 are the right steps, but it's going to take even more for it to bring those users back.

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