Blackberry needed to make a substantial change to modernise their business and update their products to match current day consumer expectations. The Blackberry Z10 is the first of many phones that will run the brand new Blackberry 10 operation system, completely rewritten, it’s a refreshingly new OS.
In the past I had tried RIM devices but failed to understand the crackberry addiction and how users became acutely in love with the brand and physical keyboards. The combination of new hardware and software is a huge leap forward for Blackberry who have finally let go of the requirement for a physical keyboard and embraced an all-touch experience with the Z10.
As soon as you pickup the Z10 you’ll feel the great build quality of the device. Strong and light, it’s easily on par with the best hardware in the industry form Apple and Nokia. Blackberry are serious about turning the company around with strong product and are here to stand up and be counted. The industrial design of the Z10 is clean and minimalistic, while feeling strong and comfortable in the hand.
The 4.2” display looks great with the pixels crammed seriously close together at 356ppi. The resolution is a very decent 1280×768 in a 15:9 aspect ratio. When it comes to the back of the Z10, Samsung has a thing or two to learn. The removable back, is textured so the phone won’t slip out of your hand and snaps off like it was made to do so, not like your about to break the thing.
Inside the Z10 lies a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and a massive 2GB RAM. The performance of the phone is great, with operations always responsive and fast. Combine that with a good 4G network connection and the device feels fast.
The rear camera on the Z10 is 8 megapixels with auto-focus. This certainly takes some time to learn before you master it. Touch and drag the focus point to set, then hit the volume up button to fire the shutter. The camera also performs double duty as a 1080p video camera which features continuous auto-focus, something usually only found on mid-level DSLRs.
The 1080p quality obviously takes a reasonable amount of storage, which is where the microSD card slot will come in handy. This supports up to 32GB cards, which adds to the 16GB internal storage for a possible total of 48GB. If you’d like to see those videos in all their glory, then you’ll want to track down a micro-HDMI cable or transfer them to your PC.
With Blackberry finally opening their minds to the on-screen keyboard, they took the opportunity to innovate on the current offerings in the market. Part of the reason Blackberry owners swear by their devices is the speed in which they can smash out emails and text messages. This sets the benchmark for typing on the on-screen keyboard in Blackberry 10, very high indeed.
As you type the characters of a word, suggestions appear next to the keys. Using an upwards swipe gesture that word is then committed to the text box. This takes some getting used to, but can dramatically increase your typing speed, particularly if you use a lot of hyperextended or elaborate words.
The general Blackberry 10 OS introduces some new paradigms. Initially swiping up will unlock the phone by revealing what’s underneath. Only when you swipe up and to the right do you get a vision of the real benefits. This will give you a preview of any updates including BBM, Text messages, Calls, Email and social accounts.
The Hub gives you a unique, single stream of content to sift through. This works well, but can get a little out of control if you get a high volume of content into the device. Even notifications of successful app installs from Blackberry World are displayed in the Hub. It is the notification centre to end all notification centres.
One of the other key features of BB10 is ability to quickly access your 4 most recent apps. This actually serves a number of key functions. Not only does it allow you to switch back to one of the apps, but also close it, something not possible on some other platforms. The rest of the interface screens are made up of the well established app icons in a grid format, this means if users were to transition from another OS, it’d be a reasonably familiar experience.
Apps support is a challenging problem for any new platform, despite being very young the platform has already attracted some of the biggest names. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, TuneIn Radio, Amazon Kindle, eBay, WordPress. So while you won’t find every app you want, there is already a good core offering that will work for a majority of users.
Ultimately the Z10 is an impressive device, delivering both new hardware and new software that places Blackberry now firmly in a position to fight. While there’s definitely room for improvement in BB10, the future is looking a lot brighter for Blackberry, a company that is now shipping the Q10, a device that will keep those loyalists happy, while at the same time modernising with a full touchscreen experience with the Z10.
While this review was sponsored, the views expressed were my own.