x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

BlackBerry Z10 review: Nerds take revenge against iPhone cool school

The Life: BlackBerry's first BB10 smartphone is as sleek and shiny as rivals - but its ultimate success will depend on the availability of apps.

The Z10 is the first device from the BB10 range. Sammy Dallal / The National
The Z10 is the first device from the BB10 range. Sammy Dallal / The National

The smartphone market is not too dissimilar from an American high school. Apple is the cool sparkly-eyed stud with the Hollywood smile, while Samsung leads the geek-chic Android crowd sporting thick-rimmed glasses and a checkered sweater.

And then there was Research in Motion (RIM), the typical nerd with broken glasses taped back together, struggling to fit into the youthful crowd.

But RIM has had a corporate makeover, renaming itself BlackBerry and ditching the glasses to come out sleek and shiny with its new operating system - BB10.

The first device from the BB10 range is the Z10, an all-touch-screen, 4.2-inch, HD-compatible, 16GB smartphone. At first glance it looks like an iPhone, but the interface isn't as pretty.

The home, back and menu buttons have disappeared, replaced with touch-screen commands, which can be a little confusing at first, but become instinctive after a short while.

The keyboard is by far the best on the market. Rarely have my fat fingers managed to make a typo on the big touchkeys. The flow motion enables a seamless way to write, simply flicking predicted words onto the screen.

Multitasking is top-notch on the BB10. You can open up to eight apps that are minimised to 'active frames' that display real-time information, an improvement on Microsoft's Windows 8 live tiles.

The phone also tends to heat up a bit, the battery life isn't great, but you can access it, so it can easily be replaced.

BB10 is a vast improvement on previous BlackBerry devices, but despite the changes, it is still a nerd. The ultimate deciding factor for its success will be the apps. As yet many of them have maintained a distance, waiting to see the market reaction before they risk their own street cred to join the BB10 bandwagon. Skype and Whatsapp have committed to creating an app for BB10, but they are still not available yet.

thamid@the national.ae