February 06, 2013, 5:12 PM — The BlackBerry Z10 4.2-in. touchscreen smartphone brings the company's product line up to date with other competing smartphones, offering decent hardware and a stellar new operating system: BlackBerry 10. Whether it catches the breeze and flies in a crowded market depends largely on how well BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) markets it, prices it and supports it -- including with plenty of apps.
BlackBerry announced the Z10 on January 30; it is due to go on sale in the U.S. in mid-March via the four major carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint.
BlackBerry and the carriers are going to have to work hard to market the Z10, especially considering BlackBerry's paltry 5% market share, putting it well behind Android and iOS. To begin with, the company must dramatically increase its 70,000 applications in the BlackBerry World app store; this is just a fraction of what is offered by Apple's App Store (about 800,000) and Google Play (over 700,000).
Based on my testing of the Z10 over several days, the new smartphone could begin to help BlackBerry reverse its declining share. It is a great smartphone with a fantastic browser and impressive screen resolution that, taken together, address major flaws in previous BlackBerry touchscreen phones.
It does come with some notable problems -- like its uninspired handset styling, lack of bountiful applications and a deadly slow boot time -- but the Z10 nonetheless deserves the attention of smartphone buyers.
Not quite the style
I'll start with that styling problem, which is a big one for me, at least. The simple truth is that the black Z10 just looks like an ugly slab of plastic with a glass cover; it's virtually unchanged from the Dev Alpha version released last fall. There's a grip texture on the rear cover, which is nice enough, but nothing special.