Blackberry took its time bringing the Z10 smartphone to New Zealand. So long that the operating system software clicked over from version 10 to 10.1.
New York saw a splashy international launch at the end of January. It took four more months for the phone to land in New Zealand.
The wait means some wrinkles have been ironed out. It also means New Zealanders have a better choice of apps on day one. Blackberry says there are 120,000 apps in the store.
An important smartphone
Analysts are gloomy about Blackberry. The company went from dominating smartphones to a near death experience. It won’t get many more chances if the Z10 fails although the Q10 is waiting in the wings – that’s a more traditional Blackberry with a qwerty keyboard.
A quick look at the Z10 makes you wonder how the company got ever got into trouble. At first sight the phone is on a par with the current offerings from Apple, Samsung and Nokia.
If Blackberry was still strong, the Z10 would be more than enough to keep customers happy. But the company is coming from behind, it needs to do more than keep customers happy.
So a lot is riding on the Z10.
Solid performance, great software
The Z10 is a well-made phone with great software and a few important strengths. The stock software, particularly the key smartphone apps – browser, calendar, mail and contacts – is better than you’ll find on any other phone.
Moving between these core apps and others is more seamless than on other phones. Blackberry calls this ‘flow’.
At the launch Blackberry’s Australia and New Zealand managing director Matthew Ball said the browser is the fastest on any phone or computer. I can’t argue with that. Pages appear instantly. What’s more those web pages show up beautifully and are easy to read.
A different phone
Although the hardware looks ordinary, the software is distinct from iOS, Android or Windows Phone 8 smartphones.
Migrants from other phones will spend time learning Blackberry’s way of doing things. If you’re bored with your existing phone or find it isn’t to your taste, then you might be delighted by the Z10.
Made for business
Building on Blackberry’s corporate past, the Z10 is made for business.
Companies will buy it for employees – despite that, it has a fun side. You’ll find plenty of games and entertainment apps. One standout feature, Balance, lets users switch the phone between work mode and personal mode with a quick finger swipe. There’s also industrial strength security.
Overall the Blackberry Z10 is a modern smartphone, well-built and with good multitasking software. It’s physically bland, but so are many smartphones. Are the plus points enough to put Blackberry back in the race? I’m not sure, to a degree it depends on whether Blackberry can win over its existing users. Certainly the company has a fighting chance.
I’ll be writing more about the Z10 once I’ve spent more time getting used to it.