BlackBerry Z10 review: The BlackBerry we've wanted is finally here

The old BlackBerry is dead and buried, and the new one is a worthy option in the modern smartphone world

It's not easy for a company to reinvent itself, especially after digging itself deep into a hole of denial that the industry has changed. But BlackBerry, the company formerly known as Research in Motion, has made the reinvention, resurrecting the all-but-dead BlackBerry platform in its new BlackBerry 10 OS and the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone that runs it. Now shipping in the United States, the BlackBerry Z10 is a good smartphone, one worthy of consideration for both personal and business use. It's not perfect, but it's a legitimate option.

The BlackBerry 10 OS poses no real threat to Apple's iOS or Google's Android, which are both more sophisticated and more capable. It's Microsoft that should worry about BlackBerry 10, both because Windows Phone 8 pales in comparison and because BlackBerry 10 echoes many of the familiar messaging capabilities that will appeal to old-school BlackBerry users who have so far resisted iOS and Android. If any of the eight mobile OSes vying to compete with Android and iOS deserve to succeed, it's BlackBerry.

[ Recap: How the BlackBerry fell so far. | Explained: RIM's BES 10 MDM road map. | Get expert advice about planning and implementing your BYOD strategy with InfoWorld's in-depth "Mobile and BYOD Deep Dive" PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobilize newsletter. ]

The sharp BlackBerry Z10

The Z10 is a slick smartphone, made of textured plastic that is comfortable to hold and Apple-like in its simple design. The 4.2-inch screen is sharp, though middle of the pack in size, larger than an iPhone's and smaller than the popular Samsung Galaxy devices running Android.

Although BlackBerry promotes the device as perfect for one-handed thumb-centric use, the truth is the screen is too large for most people's hands to reach the top; plus, I found that thumb taps were often ignored by the touchscreen. The culprit seems to be angle: The screen is quite good at detecting direct, straight-down taps such as from our index finger when holding the device with one hand and tapping with the other. Directly down thumb taps are also registered, but those that come in at 45-degree or shallower angles often are not.

The hardware specs are comparable to those of other quality smartphones, though the mono speaker is a bit "breathy" and flat compared to the iPhone 5's. The battery is replaceable, which is important given the so-so battery life; you'll get a workday's use, as with most Android smartphones, but not the two-day life typical of an iPhone. You can add an SD card for increased storage beyond the 11.4GB of available capacity on the device, such as to store media files.

Overall, the BlackBerry Z10 is a solid smartphone in line with its competition. The other new model, the BlackBerry Bold-like Q10, isn't yet available, so I could not test it.

AT&T and T-Mobile are now taking orders for the Z10. AT&T is charging $200 with a two-year contract and expects release on March 22. T-Mobile is charging $250 and expects release by April 1. Verizon Wireless also plans to sell the Z10 for $200 with a two-year contract, but is not yet taking orders and has not set a release date. The Z10 has been available in the United Kingdom and Canada for several weeks.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Business connectivity (20.0%)
Application support (15.0%)
Web and Internet support (20.0%)
Usability (15.0%)
Security and management (20.0%)
Hardware (10.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
BlackBerry Z10 8.0 6.0 9.0 7.0 9.0 8.0 8.0
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