BlackBerry Z10 review: Can BlackBerry make a comeback?
BlackBerry, the brand synonymous with the businessman must-have line of mobile phones made its incredible rise to mainstream popularity a few years ago, only to fall after its hype plateaued and the increase in competition. Taking a year long hiatus in 2012, they went back to the drawing board for a new comeback - the BlackBerry Z10.
The Z10 sports a 4.2" WXGA screen with a great pixel density of 355ppi, passing the 300ppi "retina display" threshold. However, it is not Corning's Gorilla Glass, which is actually pretty much a standard feature for all flagship phones, so that is slightly disappointing.
While this feature will be missed, it is good that the Blackberry Z10 has a notification light, a must-have since Blackberry is known to be the business phone. The Z10 took a unique take on its first full screen smartphone attempt. Firstly, it does not have any main button or captive buttons. While I do appreciate the fact that the buttons' absence makes the Z10 look much sleeker, I am not sure if it is worth the compromise on its usability.
Without a dedicated button of any sort to navigate and interact with the phone, users will have to interact with the Z10 in a way similar to the “Microsoft Surface” style of interacting with your device – in other words using the sides – sliding from the bottom up is not a natural way of navigating from an app to your home screen and from my experience, it does not always work, making you slide your thumb/finger repeatedly till the device captures your movement.
You may get used to the new way of navigation, but dedicated buttons are still more effective and efficient to use.
I love the detachable back, which is made from a rubberized material. It makes holding the phone a bliss, especially since with the 4.2" screen, the Z10's dimension is quite near the ergonomic sweet-spot for one-handed use. Add that with the machined aluminium uni-body and the lightweight of 138g, the Z10 is comfortable from all angles and truly feels premium.
With a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM and an efficiently built OS, the user experience is smooth and fluid and thus complements the the BlackBerry Flow. Multi-tasking also runs smoothly, which is great as it may be one of the most heavily demanded features to deliver.
With only a 1,800mAh battery, the Blackberry Z10 was not made with games and videos in mind, as it will only last a full working day (9-5pm) if only use the Z10 for business tasks, such as email, stocks, and word documents. Another negative point must be made on how easily the Z10 overheats.
Remove the back cover reveals a battery that resembles one taken from a remote control car of the olden days, and it feels the same too. It took just one and a half races on Asphalt 7 to make the battery feel as though it was overheated (This is with mobile data, Bluetooth and other settings turned OFF).
The camera is easily accessible through an icon on the Z10’s lock screen, which can be pressed and hold down for 2 seconds. Equipped with an 8MP F2.2 camera, the Z10 is a phone with a decent camera with a clean UI design.
Check out these pictures taken with default settings.
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Though options are limited, the Z10 will be enough for the average user. To bring it up a level over entry level smartphones, the Z10 has Time Shift, a clever mode that takes a high-speed burst of ten images before allowing the user to choose the best one.
The real magic starts in group pictures. Each face is detected and can be swapped individually from one of the ten faces from the ten images taken. Everything else will add to the camera experience, such as scene modes, 5x digital zoom, a clean gallery app, and a simply Story Maker app that creates montage videos with minimal user effort.
With the new OS 10, the feeling will be familiar, but Blackberry users will have to learn the ropes again.
As for the home screen, it will be familiar to all smartphone uses, of which the icon approach was used. While there was nothing new here, what was new is its Blackberry Hub, a centre of all the things that matter to a user.
*From left to right - Blackberry Hub, Multitasking tabs (instant resume), extended menu of Blackberry Hub Accessible from any app by sliding up then across to the right, the hub is one of the best solutions that I have seen in getting one’s notifications, emails and other information that matters. If you just need a glance, sliding your finger up but not releasing it will also give a quick glance of all the notifications, truly a well thought process.
Another well thought feature is the keyboard. Its predictive text does not appear at the top of the keyboard, but rather a few probable words on top of the keys that would be the next letter in the word. With its accurate predictive text and perfectly spaced keys. Even without a QWERTY keyboard, typing is still great on the Z10.
However, in every product there is a “but” after its praise. For the Blackberry Z10, it is their app ecosystem. You will miss out a lot - and that's ALOT - compared to iPhone and Android users.
Wrapping It Up
In my books, the Blackberry Z10 is really a quality product that appreciates how people used to use their phones. If there is to be a picture that represents a phone that can be used with one hand, is durable, and does its primary job well – which in this day and age is not only to calls, sms and email but also social media integration, search capabilities and decent camera quality – the Z10 will fit that picture quite well.
In the current trend of the latest and greatest in advances in mobile technology, most often gimmicky, the Blackberry Z10 may be overlooked by the main stream consumer. However, there are still people who do not want to spend hours customizing their phones and are not willing to spend more on a product that has features that they may never be used. This is where the Z10 comes in.
It is a high-end smartphone that works great out the box, with a set-up process so easy that a Primary 3 student could do it. There is no nonsense from start to finish, and there is nothing to distract you from using the Z10. At the start of my review, I was highly sceptical about the Z10, its failure to help Blackberry was for me the nail on the coffin that the Z10 was a horrible product. And I already had knowledge of its poor battery and limited app store.
However, after using it for a week, I began to understand it. While unintentional, the Z10 is catered to a niche segment, a segment of consumers who appreciate true quality phones and do not care about third party apps to increase value to their phone.
If you are in that group, the Z10 will not disappoint. For more information, check out the official BlackBerry Z10 website. Be sure to allow check out the official BlackBerry Z10 demo site, where you can interact with a virtual Z10 as well as help with your setup!
This section exists to acknowledge that fact that no matter how good a review is, it is definitely wise to seek other reviews and make your own judgement before making a purchase. Here are some other quality reviews of the BlackBerry Z10: