Review: BlackBerry Z10 is good stab at rebirth

BlackBerry

BlackBerry 10 was delayed for about a year, and it seems as if the extra time was put to good use. The software is, for a first release, uncommonly slick and well thought out, completely unlike the PlayBook disaster of two years ago, when RIM released a tablet computer that couldn't do email.

The Z10 is easier to use than an Android phone. It is more difficult to use than the iPhone, but it is also more powerful, giving you faster access to your email, tweets, Facebook status updates and text messages.

These communications end up in the "Hub,'' a window that slides in from the left side of the screen. Whatever you're doing on the phone, you can get to the hub with a single swipe on the screen, and then go back. It's a great feature for the always-connected.

The software is good for on-the-go types as well, because it's designed for one-handed use. While texting, you'll have one hand free for holding your bag or pushing open doors.

It's also completely touch-oriented, which isn't what you'd expect from a BlackBerry. You don't use a hardware buttons to navigate the phone at all: They're just to turn the phone on or off, or adjust the volume. To get around, you swipe across the screen. Up, down, right and left swipes all do different things, but they're fairly easy to remember. Sadly, it's reminiscent of webOS, the last hurrah of smartphone pioneer Palm Inc. It was a great, swipe-based interface that never found an audience and was ultimately put to rest.

Very rarely does BlackBerry 10 display a "Back'' button on the screen, which is a blessing. I find Android's always-present "Back'' button a huge annoyance, since it's rarely clear where it will take me. Will it take me back one screen or kick me out of the application I'm in? Only one way to find out: pushing it.

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