The BlackBerry Z10 was announced on the 30th January 2012 by BlackBerry (not RIM) at a 6 city (London, Dubai, Tronto, Paris, Johannesburg and New York) simultaneous press conference.
The expectations for the device within the media circles were pretty low, despite being a “make or break” device for the newly named BlackBerry company, many believed even before the press conference had started that the device was set for failure.
For me, I have never been a BlackBerry fan, I have always found their handsets to be dated, their software to be over-complicated and their business minded ethos and direction to be a hindrance to their brand and the major factor which saw their fall from grace some 4 years ago (yes it’s really been that long). To say I came into this with the want to slate and hate it from the offset would be an understatement. I hadn’t really touched a BlackBerry phone since I reviewed the BlackBerry Bold 9000 back in September of 2008 so this was a big thing for me.
I considered how best to write this review as I didn’t want to follow the standard “what the others are doing” approach and instead decided to review it in two main areas. The first of the areas I will look at is how the Z10 is as a device in it’s own right and as an upgraded BlackBerry model. Secondly I will look at where it sits in the market against Android, Apple and Windows Phone and how it performs against models from each of those mobile operating systems at a similar price point.
Price & Where From:
|Z10 Worldwide Availability|
|Country||Carrier||Z10 Price||Contract Term(s)||Release date|
|UK||EE||£29.99||£46 pcm 24 Months 3GB Data||Available|
|UK||EE||£49.99||£41 pcm 24 Months 1GB Data||Available|
|UK||O2||£479.99||Pay As You Go||Available|
|UK||O2||From free to £399.99||£18.50 to £72 pcm, 18 Months, 50 mins to Unlimited mins of calls, 500 texts to unlimited texts, 100MB to 1GB Data||Available|
|UK||O2||From free to £379.99||£13.50 to £61 pcm, 24 Months, 50 mins to Unlimited mins of calls, Unlimited texts, 100MB to 1GB Data||Available|
|UK||Vodafone||£129||£33 pcm, 24 months, 600 mins, Unlimited texts, 500MB Data (+2GB UK WiFi)||Available|
|UK||Vodafone||£69||£37, 24 months, Unlimited mins, Unlimited texts, 1GB Data (+2GB UK WiFi)||Available|
|UK||Vodafone||£29||£42, 24 months, Unlimited mins, Unlimited texts, 2GB Data (+2GB UK WiFi)||Available|
|UK||Phones 4u*||£69.00||via Vodafone, 24 Month Your Plan 33, 600 mins, Unlimited texts, Includes 500MB Data + 2GB Wi-Fi, £33.00 pcm||Available|
|UK||Phones 4u*||£79.99||via EE, 24 Months, Unlimited mins, Unlimited texts, Includes 500MB Data, £36.00 pcm||Available|
|UK||Phones 4u*||Free||via Vodafone, 24 Months, Unlimited mins, Unlimited texts, Includes 1GB Data, + 2GB Wi-Fi £37.00 pcm||Available|
|UK||Phones 4u*||Free||via Vodafone, 24 Months, Unlimited mins, Unlimited texts, Includes 2GB Data, + 2GB Wi-Fi £42.00 pcm||Available|
|UK||BT||Price unknown||Contract Term(s) unknown||Available according to BlackBerry Newsroom|
|UK||Three UK||Price unknown||Contract Term unknown||Coming soon according to Three blog.|
|UK||Carphone Warehouse||£499.95 (+ £10 Top up)||Pay As You Go (T-Mobile)||Available|
|UK||Carphone Warehouse||Varies from Free to £419.99 upfront||New Pay Monthly Contracts, via Orange, O2, EE, Three, T-Mobile, Talkmobile and Vodafone, 12 Months** – 24 Months, 30 mins to Unlimited Calls, 250 to Unlimited Texts, 0 to Unlimited Data***, Free accessories****||Available|
|Canada||Carrier (tbc)||$149.99||3-year contract||Release date|
|UAE||Carrier||AED 2,599||unsubsidised||February 10th|
|US||Carrier||Price Unknown||Pre-registration||Expected March|
In The Box:
It’s worth pointing our that what I have in my box will not be what you have in your box as the box we were given was a press only edition from the launch event.
- BlackBerry Z10 Handset
- 1800 mAh Battery
- Official Protective Case
- Micro Fibre Cleaning Cloth
- UK Three Pin Adapter
- European Two Pin Adapter
- Micro USB Charge / Sync Cable
- Various Device Specific Leaflets
Specs & Device Layout:
The Z10 is aptly named such given that the software it’s running is BlackBerry OS 10
If you have ever used a PlayBook then the BlackBerry Z10 OS will not be too much of a surprise to you or for that matter be very complicated, however if you have never used one then this will be a very new experience for you as the OS is based completely on gestures to control the screen movements. That said some of the basics such as swipe from the top and swipe through your apps are pretty standard. Other things like creating folders, moving apps and removing apps are pretty straight forward too and if you have used Android or iOS then you will have no trouble managing these tasks.
In terms of the gestures that don’t fall into the “that’s the same” bracket there are a quite a few and I had planned on going through them all on this review however, PocketLint have created an almighty guide to the gestures and more on their BlackBerry Z10 Tips & Tricks post which covers this is very great detail.
Let’s now take a look at the step by step setup for the phone. After my initial setup to get my self some experience I decided that I wanted to wipe the device completely, this way I could full appreciate the pain points of a user being forced to start from scratch and also to detail the apps that were included.
Wiping the device was pretty straight forward, a trip to settings and then security settings gave me the option to security wipe my phone which is essentially a factory reset. The wipe process itself however is pretty painstaking, a little over 15 minutes it took to wipe the phone so if you intended on ever doing a quick wipe and starting again I’d advise against it.
From power on to setup the device takes around 2 minutes which in terms of a first boot is actually pretty quick compared to some devices on other operating systems.
It took me a little under 10 minutes to get the device set up in it’s basic form, of course this wasn’t adding email accounts, setting up twitter, activating BBM or anything like that and I was taking screenshots along the way so I would guess that you would do it in around 5 minutes if you weren’t doing it like I was.
Please let us know in the comments section below or on our social channels if you liked this format better than the normal text format in which this section would normally be written.
The camera on the BlackBerry Z10 is very much a talking point. There have been a number of early device reviews that people have chosen to take parts out of and show me to suggest the camera is not up to par and that it needs a lot of work so I’ll do a photography on the BlackBerry Z10 post a bit later.
As shown in the image above, the display is a 4.2 inch LCD with 1280 x 768 resolution at 356 DPi which puts it in the same sort of field as the Samsung Galaxy SIII mini, the iPhone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 920.
In terms of how it compares to them on paper, well it has a higher resolution and DPi than any of those devices which all range between 4.0 and 4.5 inch screens.
Having used and seen all of the devices above, the Z10 stands out for me as being far better, it has a very bright and vivid display and when zoomed in at maximum zoom on text or images there are no distorted pixels and they both look very sharp.
The CPU in the BlackBerry Z10 is a Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon which is the exact same as can be found in devices like the Nokia Lumia 920, HTC Windows Phone 8X and certain variants of the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
If I were to look at how the OS makes use of the CPU then it’s honest to say that it’s the only device I know of that actually makes use of the dual core technology properly.
You might be wondering how I came to this conclusion, well I based it solely on multitasking which in essence is what a CPU is set for (argue amongst yourselves on this one).
The Z10 handles real multitasking perfectly, yeah there is no debating that other operating systems use multitasking but let’s be honest, how many of them allow an app to real time update in the background as well as letting you launch and use another? If you want to test this for yourself, simply open the web browser on Android, point it to a heavy data site then open another app whilst the page is loading. The result will speak for itself, if you go back to the browser you will see that the website hasn’t loaded in the background and will either start loading from scratch again or continue where it left off (most likely start from scratch).
All in all the CPU of the Z10 was designed to work with the OS in harmony which makes using it so much more fluid.
The BlacBerry Z10 supports side loading and a whole lot more which I will cover in individual tutorials over the coming weeks
- Build Quality
- True Multitasking
- LCD Resolution and DPi
- Operating System
- Lack of apps (covered in conclusion)
- Length of time take to wipe the device
- YouTube App
- Battery Life
- Volume Management
- Price Point
As I said at the top of my review I wanted to look at the review for this device with a different mindset to what I would normally use. The Z10, though being a BlackBerry device may well have been a device from a completely new company with a completely new operating system as essentially that’s what this is so for me to judge it based on the poor form of BlackBerry over the past 4 years would be rather unfair.
I want to start out by saying that I haven’t read a single review for this device on the internet yet, I didn’t want my thoughts to be tainted in any way so I completely stayed away from them.
I’ve been using the handset as my primary device since Saturday and the first thing that stood out for me was the battery life. So much so that before I had even written my review I had to write a post about it (BlackBerry Z10 Battery Life – Good or Bad? You Decide). I’m highly fortunate that I can carry around two sometimes three devices at any one time as were it not for that, I would have been left high and dry without a phone. The battery life for a power user is one of the worst I have seen in a handset however that said, if you are a fair to moderate user (which I normally am) then obviously this will not be the case for you.
The charging time for the device is great though so it doesn’t take too long to get yourself back up and running unless you are like me and won’t switch the phone on until it has a full charge.
This leads me to my next point, the BlackBerry Z10 powers itself on as soon as there is enough battery power to do so. This is very much the same for the Windows Phone 8X by HTC but for me this is simply an annoyance. If anyone works out a way to disable this then please let me know.
As far as the operating system goes, this is one of the nicest (if not the nicest) UI’s I have used on a handset. Of course everyone is different and may not agree with me but I love the fact that I can hold the device comfortably in one hand (mainly due to design and build) and do everything I need to do with it.
The keyboard on the handset is simply amazing, it’s not only highly intuitive but like a lot of keyboards it learns with your typing habits. The way that I can throw full words upward to complete a sentence is amazing and that it offers multiple selections as my next word just shows me that BlackBerry have put a lot of thought into making this perfect.
Though so far I have loved using this handset I do have some major grumbles. Despite boasting 70,000 apps, BlackBerry, just like Windows Phone, have failed to land the services of Google which Apple had managed to do and some of the other larger app developers, though that said, the RIM version of Google Talk is amazing.
A number of the apps in the market are Android ports and as such some of them are completely useless however there is no real way to report an app on BlackBerry World so these apps will continue to flood in and we just have to sift through them all.
If you are not heavily dependent on Google like I am then this won’t even be an issue and you may instead wish to focus on my other grumble which is controlling the volume.
Unlike Windows Phone, the volume control for the Z10 media and main are separate however it took me a while to notice that when I had turned the device volume to 0 and realised that I was still receiving notification tones from the handset for things like BBM. You can adjust the settings easily however you need to go into settings to do this and there is no in app way of doing it sadly.
With such a revolutionary design change for Blackberry there were just some things they could not find themselves swaying away from such as the red notification light. Having used a huge amount of devices in my time as a reviewer, this for me was the cheese and onion blue or green packet thing, a red light for me indicates a warning, perhaps a low battery or something even worse but certainly not a notification. Though this is an integral part of what makes a BlackBerry I would have changed this.
In finishing up the review I would like to say that the night mode / alarm set mode from lock screen is one of the best things I have ever seen on a handset…
In short, as far as this device goes as a new BlackBerry and without comparing it to Android or any other operating systems handsets then it’s simply amazing. The gesture controls are wonderfully refreshing and new, the screen is amazing, the sound quality from the external speaker is crisp and loud and the build quality (excluding the back flimsy cover) is great.
As you may have noticed I compared the Z10 to numerous devices in my review and this was done intentionally for one simple reason, it needs to be compared.
Sadly, due to the price point that the device sits at you need to weigh up your options and in fairness, thought the Z10 is one helluva device, it can never compete with handsets like the Nexus 4.
What if the Nexus 4 wasn’t so cheap? Well the Z10 would be put face to face with the likes of the US Variants of the SIII and the Lumia 920 and in honesty, the Z10 I feel would beat the Lumia 920 however the SIII would still come out tops due to the openness of Android and the available apps.
In terms of it going head to head with the iPhone 5, I would genuinely say that the Z10 would come out on top against a device that features a 1.3 GHz dual core Apple A6 CPU though again, the app support would stop it taking a market share.
So overall where do I see the Z10 in a world of 4 major ecosystems? The answer to this is simple, it sits firmly at number 3 and had it not been for the mass appeal of the iPhone and the lacking amount of decent apps in BlackBerry World, the Z10 would take the number 2 spot.
Before flaming me I suggest you all get at least an hour of hands on time with the device and then provide your own thoughts.