I’ve often said that our Canadian cousins at BlackBerry have lost the plot these past few years. Well, this, the Z10, suggests they’ve found it again. Within 30 seconds of picking it up, I felt as if I had the iPhone 6 in my hand. Running iOS 7. It is an awesome phone, with a pleasing new operating system, BB10.
Both the BlackBerry Z10 hardware and the OS, a Canadian/Swedish/Australian co-production, could have the folks at Cupertino gnashing their teeth, because whatever iPhone upgrade they launch later this year or next, it will surely struggle to catch up. The Z10 looks like the iPhone 5 should have – a bit less tall and thin, a tad chunkier, a bit plastickier, but less chunky than the otherwise lovely (yet doomed) Nokia Lumia 920, which is a crucial 8 per cent wider and over a third heavier than the BlackBerry. It’s not just that the Z10’s physical form resembles a putative iPhone 6; BlackBerry has even designed its app icons to look as I suspect Apple might be redesigning them at this very minute.
The Z10 is the fruit of the shake-up following BlackBerry’s dog days in 2011, and its decision to refocus on business users rather than rioters. The problem is that it could continue to appeal to the rioting community – not just because the beloved free BBM messaging system and signature red flashing message light remain, but because the Z10 is superb as a fun machine as well as a business tool. Indeed, it seems BlackBerry has been hoovering up all the clever little developers Apple should have bought. Take a look at the Z10’s analogue-style alarm clock when you play with one – and the genius Time Shift photo mode.
Devotees of BlackBerry’s nasty (at least I think) little keyboard and tiny screen may be shocked by the Z10. Its 4.2in touch screen doesn’t even have a physical home button under it, and the phone is operated by single thumb gestures via what the makers call BlackBerry Flow – a rocking system that enables you to keep open multiple applications. The gestures would take an iPhone or Android user a couple of days to get used to, but are easy to learn using the tutorial in the box. Very, very impressive. I hope it works for them – and not only out of Commonwealth solidarity.