BlackBerry Z10: early sales data positive, reviews mixed

BlackBerry Z10: early sales data positive, reviews mixed

The Z10, the first BlackBerry handset to run the new BB10 operating system and to be entrusted to reviewers, boasts a 4-inch 356ppi display, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage and is powered by a dual core, 1.5Ghz processor.

It has won universal praise for its streamlined design, the quality of the typing experience and its predictive input and correction features in particular, but tech publications from Pocket Lint to The Verge seem to agree that battery life is disappointing: "We've struggled to get through till 6pm from an 8am start. It's not helped by the fact that there isn't an easy way to see how much battery you have left aside from a small icon in the top left of the screen. There is no percentage marker, no time indicator, just a guess at how much is left," said Pocket Lint's Stuart Miles.

Meanwhile The Guardian's tech editor Charles Arthur points out that although the battery life is short, it is still no better or worse than most full touchscreen smartphones in real-life use scenarios. His biggest issue with the phone was that it didn't seem to have a unique selling point for anyone other than business users and therefore would not be enough to tempt Android and iPhone users away from their current handsets and apps ecosystems.

Joshua Topolsky at The Verge was also critical of the current ecosystem of available apps: "BlackBerry says that it's launching the Z10 and BlackBerry 10 with about 70,000 apps. I know what you're thinking: that's a lot of apps to come with out of the gate. Unfortunately, while testing the device I felt like it was really something like 69,000 really mediocre (or just plain bad) applications."

At Tech Crunch, Darrell Etherington was more positive: "With the Z10, BlackBerry has created a smartphone that's worthy of being mentioned in the same conversation as the latest Android devices and the iPhone. That alone is an accomplishment for a company that has seemed on the verge of extinction for quite a while now. But a lot of what they've provided with this flagship device is narrowing, or at best, eliminating the feature and hardware gap between it and the two mobile platforms that have legions of users already, including a number who have already migrated away from BlackBerry devices."

Yet despite this structured criticism, the first reports from North America suggest that 50 percent of presales orders for the new handest are coming from current Android and iPhone users who are ‘jumping ship' to BlackBerry 10.

Likewise, speaking at the BlackBerry Jam event in Amsterdam on Monday, BlackBerry's UK MD Stephen Bates said the launch of the first BB10 device has been a success in the UK, where a number of retailers have already sold out of stock. He avoided quoting exact figures or mentioning that historically the UK is one of the company's strongest markets. BlackBerry handsets still account for 20 percent of active smartphones in Britain.

This week the Z10 will roll out in Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands and its performance in those countries will be a better gauge of the handset's popularity and of BlackBerry's chances of carving out a niche in the global smartphone market.