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Blackberry Z10 hands-on review

Thu Jan 31 2013, 14:23

The Blackberry Z10's headline feature is its Blackberry 10 mobile operating system, which after numerous delays and setbacks is finally ready.

The first thing that struck us about Blackberry 10 is how different it is. We've had our mitts on the Blackberry Z10 for almost 24 hours now and we still feel like we have so much to learn about the new mobile operating system. It is a distinct departure from Blackberry devices of old, and although this might not please the firm's loyal customers, it had to be to give Blackberry any chance at making it a success.

As you switch the device on, you're greeted with a homescreen full of Active Frames, essentially a block of your open apps. While this makes it easy to multitask and to nip between different apps, this feature hasn't won us over thus far, for a number of reasons.

Blackberry 10 active frames

First off, when you select an app from your full list - accessible by swiping left from the home screen - the phone will first take you back to the Active Frames list and open the app from there. Sure, this whole process takes less than a second, but it bothered us during our time with the phone.

Secondly, the whole Active Frames thing comes across as a bit forced. Although multitasking is at the heart of Blackberry, due to its focus on business customers, we found the firm has tried too hard to make Blackberry 10 as different from Android and iOS as possible. Of course, we might be wrong, and we'll update this assessment with our thoughts in our full review.

Another standout feature of Blackberry 10 is Blackberry Hub, accessed by swiping right on the screen.

The Blackberry Z10 features Blackberry Hub

This is essentially a unified inbox, dragging in your emails from multiple accounts along with Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter messages. We found the feature to be an excellent addition to the Blackberry Z10, and the Blackberry Hub proved easy to use and navigate - even if it did take us a good 10 minutes to work out how to delete an email. Our only real gripe with the feature is the fact that the Blackberry Hub can sometimes get overloaded with notifications, making it tricky to find a particular message.

Another feature we're still struggling to get to grips with is Blackberry's gesture-based navigation system as it looks to differentiate itself from its rivals with its lack of a physical home button. The only reason we're struggling is because it's all new to us - the gestures themselves seem to work well and offer a fluid user experience.

Overall first impressions
On first impression, the Blackberry Z10 is a good device, but we're not so sure that it's a great device. While it seems to do things well, we're not sure that the Blackberry Z10 does things, or anything in particular, better than its competitors. However, we still have plenty more features to test, so check back soon for our full review and our more fully considered thoughts on the Blackberry Z10 and the Blackberry 10 mobile operating system. µ


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