Finally the Canadian manufacturer Blackberry launched their first ever Full Touchscreen smartphone in form “Blackberry Z10”. This is the first ever device running on the brand new Blackberry 10 operating system. The company worked hard to make this operating system and the new Z10 to give tough competition to other high end devices in the market such as iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 920, Google Nexus 4 and other Sony Xperia Z. Blackberry Z10 was launched officially in India on February 25th, you can check the launch Event here. (http://www.techarena.in/video/256718-blackberry-10-launch-video-exclusive-footage-ranbir-kapoor.htm)
Blackberry Z10 and Q10 are the first two devices coming with BB 10 OS, however there is yet few months to go for the launch of Q10 which is a QWERT phone but as of now we are going to review the first smartphone launched with BB 10, its Blackberry Z10.Smartphone is built with quite durable packaging, several new features and powerful configuration. The device is featuring 4.2inches bright IPS HD LCD screen offering 768 x 1280 pixels resolution with 355 dpi. It is powered with Dual Core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon chipset and 2 GB of RAM. It comes with built-in 16 GB storage and 8 megapixel rear camera.Let’s check out the Blackberry Z10 in details.
Design and Packaging:
At the first look, Z10 looks very similar to iPhone 5 but infact it is bit better and stylish compared to the same. This is the first ever smartphone having not a single Physical or Capacitive keys on its entire display. There is just a Screen unlock/Power key provided on the top.Phone’s dimensions contained130 × 65.6 × 9 mm build up with plasticframewith rounded corners. The back cover has a smooth texture that looks like kevlar.Z10 also comes with a special protective cover case. It is magnetic cover which helps to save your device battery by putting in to sleep mode when you put the device in cover and it automatically powering power it up when you remove it back.
The new Z10 is only controlled by gestures as I said above there is no key to control the device. We have a 4.2 inch LCD display on the front with Blackberry Logo. There is also a 2 Megapixel front facing camera above the screen accompanied with Sensor Array on left and LED Notification light on right with Call speaker.
On the right side Blackberry have placed Volume Up and Down keys with Play/Pause button in middle which as acts as a Voice Command Button.
On the top of the body we have a 3.5mm headphone Jack, a MIC and the one and only key on the entire body which works as Screen Unlock as well as Power On and Off
While at the bottom of the phone lays Loud Speaker. You can also use this space for removing the rear panel/cover of the device.
Blackberry has placed Micro USB 2.0 port on the left along with Micro HDMI Out port.
And at the back side we have a 8 Megapixel Rear Camera with LED Flash and in the middle we have NFC Antenna which is placed in form of BlackBerry Logo.
The new Z10 comes in two colors only, that is white and Black. The variant we are reviewing today is Black color. As I said the entire body is made up of Plastic I have doubt about its durability. What if it falls down twice of thrice from height? If we compare this factor with other phones, then it gets beaten by devices like iPhone 5 or HTC One with metal shell. Anyways, though it is plastic, it still looks attractive and decent when you hold it in hand. The rear panel of the device offers good grip because of its slightly textured design.
Personally I liked the display used in Z10. It features a HD 4.2 inch IPS LCD display with 1280 × 768 pixelsresolution and offering 356 pixels density which is far better thaniPhone 5’s 326ppi or Lumia 920’s 332ppi.However it is less bright than the iPhone 5 (around 300 cd / m² against 500 for the Apple phone).Still Z10 display offers great fun while watching videos, images or playing games. The screen wont appear black from any angle because of the IPS panel. Viewing angles are wide, while the persistence time is about 18 ms, which is one of the best in the industry, excluding AMOLED technology. Also the contrast is good, but the color respect is less. Over all Blackberry’s hard work on making this device’s display seems good.
Home Screen and Multitasking
There are several new stuffs in the new Blackberry 10 OS compared to older versions. When you first unlock the screen, you will see completely new screen with bunch of icons. This is actually the first application drawer screen. Let me tell you there is no home screen in Blackberry Z10 like we use to have until now in other Blackberry devices or any other Nokia/Samsung/iPhone devices. We get by default 3 screens with application icons.
After unlocking the screen if you swipe the screen to right, you get yet another unique screen which we have seen for the first time. This displays all your open applications at one place and easily accessible. Whenever you are working with any application and want to switch to another application you don’t need to close it but simply slide it upwards and it goes to the Multitasking screen. Remember there is no Home key like Android or Nokiawhich by pressing you can get out of the application. Here you need to slide it up if you want to continue your work later and open another app.
There is also a small Notification kind of bar which appears when you slide down from top. This panel doesn’t shows you notifications about your Miss Calls, Messages or any other alerts because all those goes to BB HUB. But here you get few Quick Settings option like Turning On/Off WiFi, Bluetooth, Alarm, Screen Rotation, and Notification. Now if you are thinking what is BB HUB, from the home screen when you slide the screen to right side, you land on the new application introduced in BB Z10 called “Blackberry HUB”. This is one of the most important useful application launched the manufacturer with this new device. I will provide you more information about this app later in Application section. First let me provide you some tips about the new Multitasking and Home screen in Z10:
- When the phone is in standby mode, simply Slide up from the bottom of the screen to get the home screen. It is very similar like iPhone or Samsung’s “Slide to Unlock” feature but here we slide it vertically.
- Slide up to the halfway of screen and then slide right to open Blackberry HUB.
- Sliding down from the top of the screen brings up the quick settings panel as stated above.
Operating System and Hardware Configuration:
Blackberry Manufacturers took lot of time and put huge resources with hard work to create this new operating system, “BlackBerry 10.” After testing the first device with the new OS (Z10), it sounds like they succeeded. Based on QNX, BB 10 is very smooth with many new features which we have seen for the first time. You can see the entire list of new features in this video.
As per the configuration BlackBerry Z10 seems quite powerful. It comes loaded with a Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz along with 2GB of RAM. It allows smooth and lag free performance if you have opened over 10 applications simultaneously. Let me remind that Multitasking is one of the key strengths of new BlackBerry 10 based devices and it requires huge resources. But we dint faced any problem with the provided Dual Core CPU and good amount of RAM in Z10.
Performance and Application:
In terms of performance, I dint faced a single problem while testing the phone since a week. It offers great performance with smooth and lag free accessibility. Also the user interface is very easy, you get all your opened and running applications at one single screen, you get all notifications and alerts in one application called Blackberry Hub, you can sync your entire device in seconds using new Blackberry Link and many more.
For first few minutes you may face little difficulty in accessing the phone because there is no physical or capacitive buttons provided on the screen but once you get familiar with the device, you can access everything with just one hand, Navigation to typing, everything is made simpler. Accessing or searching application is not difficult, we just have to slide the screen horizontally, left to right or vice versa. While for unlocking screen you need to slide from down to up and for bringing up the quick settings panel, slide the screen from up to down. From the quick settings panel you can access few important settings which just one tap like Bluetooth, WiFi, Alarm, Screen rotation and main settings menu. Now lets have a look at the new Applications introduced with new Operating system with Z10 in details:
Unlick other phones including Symbian, Android or iOS, we don’t need to go through different applications to check our notifications and alters. With the new Blackberry HUB, we get everything at just One Single place. Blackberry has worked really hard on this to bring us the most comfortable notification place. No matter if it is your Call Log, Messages, WhatsApp, POP or IMAP emails, Facebook or Twitter Updates, or even Calendar to Tasks, you get everything at just one place. As per me, BlackBerry Hub provides the best experience for alerts and notification.The only drawback with the hub is it is only “Read Only”. For example, you are reading any email, you can reply right from BB HUB. However, you just need to tap the notification and it will take you itself to its original application. Also there is no button or gesture to move to the next / previous email. to move from one email to another, it is mandatory to return to the message list. In order to access the Blackberry HUB you just need to create an inverted Lgesture from the home screen.
Blackberry devices have always been a great choice for professionals. With new Z10, blackberry introduced yet new application called ‘Blackberry Balance’ which helps the professional to keep their personal and professional stuffs separate on Smartphone. In order to use this your IT department should have BES (Blackberry Exchange Service), or it will not work on your phone. Once enabled and configured you just need to do a swipe to access your professional stuffs and same for accessing personal stuffs. Unfortunately we don’t have the BES, hence we cannot show you Demo for the same.
This is kind of a PC Suite, a computer based software for backing up your device contents. Don’t gets confused between Blackberry Desktop Manager and Blackberry link. This software is introduced with the new Z10 smartphone. The way it is different from Desktop Manager is BB Link works even without using USB Cable. When you install the software on your PC, it will ask you for your Blackberry ID which you have used on the phone. Once entered, Blackberry Link will sync all your Images, Videos, Music and Documents automatically over internet/Wi-Fi. You don’t need to sync it manually every time. Once enabled, if you click any image from your mobile camera or download any music, it will be synced to your desktop in next one minute. Impressive, isn’t it?
Blackberry Messenger (BBM) is well known app for Blackberry users. With the new Z10 we get new version of BBM containing several features. Infact the new BBM version is called as BBM Video as it just not allow you to chat but to do video chat as well. It comes with few tools like Facelift to make fun while doing Video chat on BBM. Apart from this, now you can also share you smartphone’s screen with your colleague on BBM. That is an amazing feature. For example of you are editing some documents/images or anything on your phone and want some confirmation from your colleague, you can simply share your display to his phone and work together. You can share photos, browser, or review a business document together using the new Screen Share feature.
Emails and Productivity:
As I said earlier Blackberry has been great choice for professionals and Email plays very important role in any business. With new BlackBerry Z10 you never miss any of your email, Calendar or tasks, in fact it has become much easier using the blackberry HUB as mentioned above. Z10 supports Exchange ActiveSync, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, IMAP, and POP3 for emails and CalDAV and CardDAV as well.
This is where I really got impressed. Blackberry has been the first ever brand to launch QWERT keyboards which made typing on phones easier. But as this is the first ever phone which doesn’t have any button the device, Blackberry worked very hard to provide not just easy but much better keyboard with the new OS and device. The new keyboard we have seen in Z10 not only provides you ready made word suggestions on your next letter while typing but also learns your typing style. In other words, it builds up phraseology of words you use and offers them up as you type the next letter.
While typing a word or sentence, you will see word suggestions appearing progressively on your next letter. You just need to swipe those words above to put it in your field.It is very simple to use and effective. With this keyboard, personally I managed to type faster compared to any other touch screen phones, including the swipe keyboard application. I found the suggestive words accurate for 95% present time. For example, if you are writing “Let’s me..” you will see a suggestion “meet” on letter ‘E’. Simply slide it up and your sentence will for “Let’s meet”. Remember the words do not always work as expected hence I have mentioned that it works accurate for 95% percent. But the keyboard is smart enough and learns from your typing and notices what words you use commonly. Then it goes beyond and simply compiling vocabulary of these words and creates the said phraseology and offers you next time you type.
Other improvements made in the keyboard is don’t need to hit the up arrow key in order to Capitalize a letter, simply long press any alphabet and it will be Capitalized itself. Similarly you don’t need to hit ‘?123’ key to toggle the keyboard in order to get numeric letters or other calculation signs, simply swipe down the keyboard and it will toggle itself. There are several settings also provided like Enable Auto Correction, Enable Auto Capitalize, Enable PeriodShortcut, and more which you can set according to your needs. The only drawback I felt with the keyboard is it should have been able to change/Switch languages automatically, but it is not.
With earlier Blackberry devices we and millions of users around the world has many complaints in terms of ease of User Interface and performance. Keeping the same in mind, Blackberry has completely re-invented the Web Browser in with Z10 or we can say Black berry 10 OS. The new web browser we found in this smartphone is more efficient with the support of HTML5 and Flash, scrolling through pages and zoom is fluid, Super-fast and Tabbed browsing, built-in pop-up blocker with Private Browsing support and more. If you are using any Flash recommended website like YouTube just remember to enable the Flash Plug-in from the options.It also allows you to set your preferred Home Page, choose default Search Engines from Yahoo, Bing and Google, it also offers you search suggestions; you can also change the fonts, and much more.
This is a small Movie Maker type of tool using which you can create a movie on the go using your Images, Videos and Music. Very simple to use, the new Story Maker allows you to create a Movie with several images, videos and music. You can also select different color schemes before burning the same. It saves your movie in few minutes and that also in HD 720p quality.
Apart from this there are several built-in applications such as Calendar, Music, Videos, Contacts, Calculator, Weather, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Adobe Reader, Box Connect to Dropbox, Smart Tags,Documents To Go, etc. It also comes with a map service for navigation system. Surprisingly there in Z10 we dint found a single Google application came built-in. Even there are no Google applications provided on Blackberry App World. Under Z10 app drawer you can only see YouTube app that belongs to Google but also is just a launcher which when open takes you to browser based YouTube website. Similar you can find Google+ launcher on App World, but no application like Facebook or Twitter which are provided preloaded with Z10.
Storage and Network:
New Blackberry Z10 comes with Built-in 16 GB storage Memory which is quite enough for many people but less for several peoples. Hence Blackberry has also provided an slot for External Memory. You can use upto 32GB MicrosD card to make your storage upto 48GB. As per connectivity Bluetooth is not behind any other high end devices. It supports all major connectivity options like 4G LTE, microHDMI and microUSB ports, NFC, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi and DLNA support.
On a display with 1280 x 768 resolutions and at 356 PPI, watching videos is a fun. The device is capable to play Full HD videos without any lagging or freezing problems. The best part I like with Z10’s Video player is it plays almost all major Video/Audio file formats like 3GP, 3GP2, M4A, M4V, MOV, MP4, MKV, MPEG-4, AVI, ASF, WMV, WMA, MP3, MKA, AAC, AMR, F4V, WAV, MP2PS, MP2TS, AWB, OGG, FLAC. So converting before watching it on your Z10 is not at all required.
As per Music player, it doesn’t disappoint you either. With the provided headphones Z10 provides a very good and loud sound quality. You will love listening music on this phone without making any saturation, all with high dynamics.Also Blackberry has placed the loud speaker very smartly at the bottom of the device which cannot be either blocked when you are holding it in hand or kept it on your desk. Hence you get loud and clear sound even while not having Headphones.
Similar to Blackberry HUB and the new BBM, the camera provided in Z10 is also one key enhancement done in the new operating system. Blackberry Z10 comes with 8 Megapixel rear camera as well as 2 Megapixel Front facing camera. You can record high quality 720p videos with any of these cameras. You also have Autofocus as well as LED Flash to make your picture brighter and high quality image. One unique feature introduced with Z10 Camera is called as “TimeShift”. You can activate it from the settings to get a perfect shot and get the best face of people in photo. Using this feature when you can capture a image, camera captures more than one still from which you can simply select/change the image and get a best/perfect shot. For example, if you are taking a group shot and any member has blinked his eyes and rest are smiling, you can simply correct the image by rotating the TimeShift slider and open his eyes. You can see this entire process in our Video review. The TimeShift feature is very similar but not exactly like Lumia’s SmartShoot HTC One X+ BurstMode.
Apart from this Z10 Camera gives you HD quality Images in good light environment but may disappoint in low light. If we compare this 8MP sensor (f/2.2) with iPhone 5’s then it has a worse dive. As I said, you may get very noisy images while capturing at night or any low light surrounding. Furthermore, the focus on the screen is not always easy to do, and despite the stabilization software enabled, images may appear blurr sometime. Same stands for the Video Recorder. However the camera records Full HD 1080p videos from any of the two cameras, it requires good lights to get brighter picture. Apart from this, you can edit your recorded Videos or Images from gallery and enhance it with the built-in editor with several useful features.
Blackberry Z10 comes with removableLi-Ion 1800 mAh battery which offers not very good but a decent battery life of up to 11 hours on 3G and 10 hours of video. But if you frequently use it for Web browsing, music, streaming Videos over 3G or WiFi then the battery life gets much lower. After testing it for all these things when I tested Z10 for only Music, Facebook and WhatsApp, it gave more than 30hours of battery life over WiFi. So it is not so bad if you don’t browse or stream video from online sites entire day.
Blackberry Z10 with new BB 10 operating system is one of the best devices available today in the market and gives direct competition to other high end smartphones like iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 920, Google Nexus 4. With 2GB RAM and Dual Core Processor, it offers smooth and lag free performance no matter how many applications you are using at the same time. Apart from this, its new applications like Blackberry HUB, BB Balance and the new BBM makes it Unique and complete new Blackberry experience.
Z10 could be suitable for both Professional as well as Non Professional users. But there are few drawbacks as well. The very first and foremost is the lack of applications on Blackberry AppWorld. Personally as I have used HTC One X+, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3, and several other smartphones, I use to have many applications and games which I can use to do time pass when getting bored. Though Windows Phone 8 has lack of application, atleast with Lumia I was able to play with its Camera. But with BB Z10, I don’t have anything interesting apart from the Music and its Story Maker. BBM is only useful when my other friends are free.
Also if we compare it with other devices in terms of Price, I found Z10 bit costly as per its usage. If I had to spend over Rs 42,000/- for Blackberry Z10, I would better go with HTC One X+ for Rs. 38,000/- with 64GB Storage and 1.7GHz Tegra 3 Quad Core CPU with bright and larger display covered with unbreakable Gorilla Glass. Also recently launched Samsung Galaxy S4 won’t be bad choice at this price.
- Display with Better resolution and Density
- Beautiful Finish and attractive Design
- Removable battery, unlike several unibody smartphones.
- Useful new applications like BB Balance for professional use.
- Read-only notifications in Blackberry HUB
- Slow and inaccurate maps.
- Poor camera sensor in low light.
- Lack of applications