Blackberry has started rolling out OS 10.2 to BB10 devices such as Z10, Q10 and Q5. Update appears to be available in Canada and UK for a start. The OS update is quite a major one. The android runtime has been updated to 4.2 Jelly Bean from the previous Gingerbread based version and its performance has improved significantly. I noticed that android-ported applications like Skype that lagged before are much smoother now. A priority hub, where it shows messages of high priority, has been introduced. These are selected intelligently, or through user controlled rules such as priority contacts. Lock screen notifications are more detailed now and you can see previews of messages. Toast notifications (called instant previews) with inline reply capability have been introduced. I noticed some issues with BBM previews, but email and SMS previews working fine. Wifi direct support has been introduced for the BB10 models, while the Z30 gets two additional connectivity features: USB host support and miracast support. A new device manager utility allows you to monitor CPU and RAM usage of various apps. Keyboard has been enhanced with more fine-grained audio feedback and smoother copy/paste.

Here are some web browsing benchmarks.

Google Octane Benchmark v1

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark - 1.1

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 1.0 - Stock Browser

Browsermark 2.0

OS 10.2 browser improves Javascript performance significantly but browsermark, which tests a wider range of characteristics shows smaller improvement. Performance is largely competitive with older Android phones running on internals similar to the Z10 but it is considerably behind recent Android and iOS phones which use much faster internals.  IE10 on the Lumia 1020, which has the same SoC as the Z10, appears to optimize for Sunspider but is behind BB10 in other benchmarks. I am interested in seeing how the Z30 performs given the faster internals. Feature compatibility-wise,  WebGL has been supported on BB10 since 10.0. Flash is also available. HTML5 test revealed a score of 485 points + 11 bonus points which is also excellent. 

In terms of the OS, it is nice to see Blackberry making progress on both OS features and web browsing performance. An OS update obviously cannot do anything about the relatively weak app ecosystem or the unspectacular hardware, but the OS itself is maturing quite nicely.


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  • willis936 - Sunday, October 27, 2013 - link

    Watt for watt x86 is more efficient than arm. Scaling it down is what's hard but if you look at ULV HW and new atom architectures it'll be intel bumping apple's game, not the other way around.
  • errorr - Sunday, October 27, 2013 - link

    Well imagine if they take the amount they pay for a haswell chip and chop off 10% and spend the rest on a die twice the size. The A7 shows they aren't afraid to throw silicon at the thing.

    They spend something like $175+ for the intel chips in the latest MacBook Air. The estimate by iSupply has the A7 costing under $20 from Samsung. What if intel designed a chip optimized to their software and ended up with a chip twice the size?
  • Jumangi - Sunday, October 27, 2013 - link

    They don't need to be as fast. Just fast enough to run the OS and apps well. For most users a notebook running Sandybridge is more than enough for day to day tasks. No reason to think that Apple couldn't make a quad core A based chip in a couple more years that could run a Macbook Air just fine.
  • michael2k - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    I don't think Apple has to catch up with Intel in the future though, they just have to hit some minimum performance threshold to make the platform viable.

    Put another way, there are benchmarks that place the A7 as comparable to, in some ways, a 2009 MBP; that's not a 6 year delta, anymore, but a 3 year delta. Now imagine the A8; will it be comparable to a 2012 MBA, shrinking the gap to a 2 year delta?

    Also don't forget that Apple is on a fairly large 28nm process right now, and could conceivably move to 24nm or 20nm in the next two years, as well.
  • Penti - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    It's still much much slower than a sub 100 dollar Haswell or Ivy, or Sandy, or Arrandale chip. It's barely past a $37 USD Atom Silvermont-chip on an unoptimized test/devel platform, which scored higher in Octane v1, as well as lower (better) in Kraken 1.1. So it's probably just on par.

    Apple is not in the position going head to head with Intel in terms of performance and features and to keep up with them, that's why they switched to Intel when IBM and Freescale didn't want to try in the desktop and notebook space any more. They would lag process node, performance, and so on if they tired to use it in desktops and their desktop replacement notebooks. If 15W Haswell chips fits the space, which in the 11 uses a smaller battery than the iPad why would they kill the performance of it too? There is also the 4.5W SDP if they wish to go lower power. Can they compete with it with a custom chip? No they can't, and even Intel's drivers are so much better for OS X than the PowerVR drivers for iOS which doesn't support the things needed on the desktop.
  • repoman27 - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Well, if we're talking A7 here, the iPad Air has a 32.4 Wh battery and the MacBook Air (11-inch, mid 2013) packs 38 Wh and gets an hour less running time. So considering that the iPad Air has exactly 3x more pixels to deal with, that's not too shabby in terms of efficiency.
  • Sancus - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Where do you see the Macbook Air(mid-2013) getting an hour less running time than the iPad Air? The Apple website says 10 hours of battery life for the iPad Air, but it said 10 hours of use for the iPad 4 too, and in Anandtech's tests, the 11" Macbook Air(mid-2013) beats the ipad 4 by more than 1.5 hours when they're used in a similar test. It's likely that Apple's own tests assume considerably more intensive use for the Macbook AIr, and in any case their battery life numbers aren't comparable between tablet and notebook.
  • Penti - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    Sorry referred to iPad third and fourth gen, 42.5 Wh battery. The 2010-2012 MacBook Air 11 had a 35Wh battery, the late 2013 MacBook Air 11.6 have a 38Wh battery.
  • lowlymarine - Saturday, October 26, 2013 - link

    It's worth noting that a portion of the iPhone's lead may be due to the latest iOS Safari JavaScript engine's...we'll say "focused optimization." Compare the iPhone 5C's results on iOS 7 to the iPhone 5's results on iOS 6 (remember, it's exactly the same hardware):
    20-30% gains in Sunspider and Kraken, and a whopping 70% in Octane. I don't mean to suggest the A7 isn't a great SoC - by all means, it's a technical marvel, especially for a company with such a nascent chip design division - but trying to draw meaningful performance comparisons across CPU architectures, operating systems, and browsers with JavaScript benchmarks is inane.
  • ananduser - Sunday, October 27, 2013 - link

    20-30% and 70% gains from a simple OS update. That's massive. Anand should have done a better job pointing this out. A7's so called stellar performance is certainly less stellar now considering OS improvements.

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