BlackBerry Z10 Review – Is the BlackBerry Comeback Real?
It's safe to say that in the past couple of years no one was really checking for BlackBerry. The only time you would see BlackBerry around was when you saw someone using his/her work phone. Soon most of us labeled the BlackBerry as a work phone.
BlackBerry's label as a work phone became even more cemented as Android and iOS grew in popularity and availability. Soon you could have a smartphone that did everything BlackBerry did and more for a fraction of the price. It was no surprise that BlackBerry fell behind as the go-to smartphone choice.
Taking a big hiatus from releasing major additions to their smartphone line, they had to rethink everything to catch up with the smartphone devices we have today. If you haven't heard already, earlier this year BlackBerry (no longer RIM), announced a new OS and two smartphones. We gave BlackBerry time to feel out the new wave and update their software. Now after a few initial responses and answers we're ready to review the BlackBerry Z10.
I am currently using the BlackBerry Z10, one of the phones that BlackBerry launched earlier this year.
Let's get straight into this BlackBerry Z10 review:
BlackBerry Z10 Review - Looks
You might pick up this phone by mistake. It definitely doesn't look like the traditional BlackBerry, not even the BlackBerry Torch. BlackBerry designed a sleek body. You'd be surprised at how light it is. From far, you might even mistake it for an iPhone (the black one at least).
There are no buttons on the front. Below the 4.2" display you have the BlackBerry name and logo on the bottom center. The power/ stand-by button is in the center of the top border. The right border has the volume rocker with the silencer button in the middle. The left border you mini HDMI output and micro-USB charging port. The back cover is really nice. It's made of a textured material which should help butter fingers like me. It's not sealed. Under the cover is the memory card slot, SIm card slot and battery. The curved corners give a "friendly" look, not too business-y.
I like that BlackBerry didn't go too crazy with the new look of the phone. Looks like a regular bar shaped smartphone. It's a look we're used to by now, won't scare customers away.
BlackBerry Z10 Review - Specs:
Display: 4.2 inch / 1280 x 768 resolution
Processor / RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5 Ghz Processor / 2 GB RAM
Memory: 16 GB and MicroSD expansion slot
Cameras: 8 megapixel rear facing camera / 2 megapixel front facing camera
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 / Wi-Fi a/b/g/n / NFC / GPS /
Battery: 1800 mAh removable battery
Now that you know about the internals, you can make assumptions of what to expect. The specs aren't so bad on paper. Based on what's inside you should expect a crisp screen, fast fluid interaction, and a decent camera.
Using BlackBerry Z10 Everyday
As I mentioned before, along with the phone BlackBerry released a new OS, BlackBerry 10. When using the phone there was a bit of a learning curve, it’s somewhat similar to BlackBerry’s Playbook (tablet). I recommend going through the tutorial at the beginning to avoid being annoyed later on. As they demonstrated at the product launch, the Z10 uses a lot of gestures. It’s difficult getting used to a button-less UI, so again learning the gestures is important.
Useful BlackBerry Z10 Gestures:
- Swipe up to unlock when screen is dark.
- Swipe up with two fingers to show the keyboard.
- Hold the spacebar to hide the keyboard
- To use a suggested word, go right under the suggested word and swipe upward.
- Switching from alphabet to numbers and symbols: swipe down from the top row of the keyboard
Blackberry still remains the best at multi-tasking. Using the BlackBerry Hub as your “notification center” you can jump to whatever app you need quickly. Switching between accounts on the BlackBerry hub was easy and fluid. With all the apps we use today, that’s what we’re doing most of the time, going from one app to the next. It’s nice to see that BlackBerry still masters this. To get to the hub you have to swipe up and to the right.
There’s an annoying thing that BlackBerry does with social networks though. If you get a notification from Facebook or Twitter you have to clear the notification by clicking on it in the Hub, AND also going into the app. That’s not fun. I hope it’s fixed soon. I also do wish there was a shortcut to see the weather. It might just be me, but I’ve become so used to it.
I was happy to see the browser work quickly and efficiently. This is not the BlackBerry browser that I remember from a few years ago. I am glad about that! Adobe Flash integration was also a plus. It allowed me to use Speedtest.net since there isn’t a native BlackBerry app for it
BlackBerry Z10 Review - Calls and Service
Voice calls were no challenge for the BlackBerry Z10. AT&T 4G LTE works exceptionally well in the areas I frequent in New York. No static, break-up chatting, or dropped calls. Phenomenal! BlackBerry still has voice calls on lock! Keep in mind that I only tested 15 minutes of talk time. I don’t talk on the phone often enough to distinguish between bad and terrible call experiences.
You can check AT&T's coverage of your area HERE.
You can check AT&T's smartphone plans HERE.
BlackBerry Z10 - Battery Life
I would disconnect the battery at 8 AM everyday. It would last me until 6 - 7 PM. That is actually pretty long. I believe it was the lack of Instagramming that kept it going. Overall decent battery life for such a nice display and 4G LTE service. I always carry a portable charger and battery pack with me. I just won't risk it.
BlackBerry Z10 Cameras
I’m sure you never thought you’d be taking a pic with a BlackBerry again. They came back full swing in the camera department also. With an 8 megapixel rear camera and 2 MP front-facing camera, BlackBerry meant business.
For those who like taking selfie pics (ahem – guilty), the 2 megapixel front facing camera is a dream. It is super crisp. And you can take the picture by touching the screen. No more awkward reaching for the button without your arm or hand getting in your selfie mess!
The 8 megapixel rear facing camera took decent pictures. It’s hard to adjust the focus since I’m used to pressing the screen to focus on specific part, I forgot that on the BlackBerry it would snap a picture. You have to learn to let it settle and focus. TimeShift is video / best shot function. Takes a few pictures and allows you to edit the best part of each important object/person in the picture.
You have filters and enhancements to play around with. My favorite one is the “Big Eyes”. It’s a bit creepy and funny (see picture).
BlackBerry Z10 Review - Final Thoughts
The BlackBerry Z10 is a great improvement of everything that we knew about BlackBerry. Is it an improvement worthy of you returning to the BlackBerry AKA CrackBerry world? For those who have held on to the Torch long enough, do yourself the favor and upgrade. You won’t regret it.
The BB Z10 has a good grip and feels comfortable for long use due to the textured back. The phone isn’t awkwardly squared or heavy. You’ll enjoy the that popular social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are built-in. You will be honestly surprised all around at the fluidity and speed.
You won’t enjoy the learning the curve. The gestures don't seem so common knowledge before you learn them. But once you learn them you feel like anyone can. BlackBerry came out with a lot of support from app developers. Most major apps are covered, but Instagram lovers won’t find a native app in BlackBerry App World yet.
BlackBerry did very well with the Z10. It may not be THE phone of 2013, but it’s definitely an honorable mention, especially as a comeback. It gives you hope for the rest of the BlackBerry lineup and for BlackBerry 10 software updates. The addicting notification light from BlackBerry is here to stay.
You can get the BlackBerry Z10 for $199 on AT&T with a 2 year contract / $549 without a contract.