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BlackBerry Z10 smartphone: Bloggers, tech sites praise hardware, mixed on software

Early testers don't see Android, iPhone users making leap to BlackBerry 10 in big numbers

By , Network World
February 01, 2013 10:02 AM ET

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One example she cites as evidence: "any time you tap to open an app, the operating system first scoots you to the Active Frames window before launching. [Active Frames is RIM's term for active apps reduced to a large thumbnail, four to a page, eight in total.] This extraneous step complicates what should be a smooth, logical action -- seriously, what could be easier than opening an app? I don't really care what happens on the back end, but seeing every app open from the multitasking window is just jerky and unnecessary."

She also says that "heavy browser use is where the inconsistencies bubble up, many of them having to do with rendering issues. Some mobile Web pages didn't render correctly, and it routinely took a very long time for Wikipedia pictures and Google Maps images to load in search results" though "I suspect that I have an issue with my particular testing phone ..."

Like many other reviewers, she faulted the limited Maps app for not having "3D view, satellite view, and walking or transit directions" or a compass.

TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington was impressed by the new phone. "With the Z10, BlackBerry has created a smartphone that's worthy of being mentioned in the same conversation as the latest Android devices and the iPhone," he writes. "That alone is an accomplishment for a company that has seemed on the verge of extinction for quite a while now.

"But a lot of what they've provided with this flagship device is [about] narrowing, or at best, eliminating the feature and hardware gap between it and the two mobile platforms that have legions of users already, including a number who have already migrated away from BlackBerry devices," he writes. He doesn't expect legions of iOS and Android users to convert to BB10.

The "hardware feels fresh, and also manages to come across as noticeably distinct from Android OEM devices or the iPhone," he writes. "As for the actual look and feel, the Z10 definitely impresses overall."

He found the gesture-oriented UI a snap. "Gesture controls took me virtually no time to get used to, and in fact, I found that going back to Android and iOS devices after extended use, I was trying to use the same gestures to do things like unlock devices," he writes. "The so-called 'Peek,' which lets you swipe and hold to view notifications and then quickly dismiss them, was likewise something that quickly became second nature."

He found a number of annoyances in the UI navigation, such as "swiping up to return from the notification hub [BlackBerry Hub] brings you to the active apps screen [with its four, thumbnailed Active Frames], meaning you always have to swipe left one more time to get to apps [meaning the traditional grid arrangement of downloaded apps]. This is made somewhat better by the fact that you can tap a line of dots [actually tiny icons] at the bottom to access specific pages of apps directly, as well as Hub and your active apps screen, something which you can't do on stock Android or iOS."

BlackBerry Hub is "definitely useful, but is it more useful than Notification Center or Android's pull down notification area? That's debatable," Etherington writes. "It's more of an actual destination within your phone, something you can live in and work from, but that [characteristic] can actually be counter-intuitive at times, like when you're looking at a Twitter mention, and the back button takes you to Hub, not the Twitter home stream. But it also comes in handy, like when it provides contextual info on meetings, including information on attendees."

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