The Blackberry was once the 'must have' phone, and its name was synonymous with mobile technology. It looked as if the gadget was set to take over the world. Instead, another technology firm with a fruit-based name, Apple, launched the iPhone on the back of the success of the hugely successful iPod, and soon this stylish upstart was the dominant player in the market.
Now Blackberry has launched the Z10, which features the new BB10 operating system. There has never been a more important release for Blackberry, as the future of the company really rests on whether or not this handset is a commercial success.
Having been an iPhone owner in the past, being in need of a new phone, and having read good things about it - not to mention being addicted to gadgets of all kinds - I picked up a Z10 this week. So, after a few days use, I ask: Is it likely to be an Apple beater?
The first thing to note is that the Z10 is marginally bigger and probably slightly heavier than the latest iPhone, although not significantly so. It still fits snugly in your pocket, and is obviously easily compact enough to be carried in a small bag.
I'm probably not the first person to note that visually the Z10 bears a resemblance to the iPhone. In fact, they look remarkably similar in terms of colour scheme and finish. However, I liked the rubber back to the device, which contributes to a solid build quality and makes the device easy to grip.
Operation and Display
You unlock the phone and open up the operating system by swiping upwards over the device's screen. This takes a bit of getting used to if you've used the iPhone in the past, but feels quite neat once you being accustomed to doing it. The screen itself is just over 4", and really cannot be faulted in terms of quality. Blackberry boast that the Z10 has a higher resolution than the iPhone 5, and this is certainly evident in the crystal clear images that it produces, which exceed those of its Apple rival.
BB10 Operating System
Once you've booted the system up, you're presented with all the usual social networking icons and options that one would expect, such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. My early impressions of the BB10, or Blackberry 10, operating system is that it's pretty slick and fun to use, even if there is a bit of a learning curve with getting used to it. But once you familiarise yourself with the various swiping manoeuvres required to operate the device, then it works very well. I've experienced no problems with BB10 hanging or crashing, it runs about as speedily and seamlessly as one could expect from a mobile phone operating system.
Another neat feature is the multi-tasking panel, which makes it easy to flick between your messaging hub and the various apps that you have on your Blackberry. While Blackberry have a tough job on their hands to rival the Apple store, there are an impressive number of apps already available for the device. And although I haven't used it much yet, the camera included in the Z10 is surprisingly powerful, and certainly good enough to be used as a standalone camera for holiday snaps.
One downside to the Z10 which I must mention is the battery life, which hasn't impressed me at all. I felt it was significantly less than iPhones I've used in the past; one would obviously expect this to have improved.
Overall I can recommend the Blackberry Z10 as being an impressive device that is fun to use. Whether it is significantly distinctive from the iPhone to ensure its success remains to be seen.