BlackBerry Z10 – New OS, host of new features
Of late, the fan following for BlackBerry phones has been dwindling with the rise of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. BlackBerry has been struggling to enjoy the same customer base which it did some time ago. They have now come up with BlackBerry Z10 which might be make-it-or-break-it for this company.
On the bright side, the BlackBerry Z10 is a great phone and it has everything that you’ve been waiting for. It has sleek looking new looks with updated OS inside. For US users, there is 4G LTE too. The keyboard is more user-friendly than ever and you will also enjoy BBM’s voice chats. This is a high end phone having microHDMI port and great eight megapixels camera with good editing tools.
BlackBerry Z10 has a lot to drool about – there is great HD display, fast processor, high end camera, and all this makes the device as good as the best smartphones out there.
This phone isn’t perfect though; there are few problems with OS and hardware which is bound to annoy some people. For instance, the file system feels a bit unintuitive and the mapping app isn’t good enough either. Compared to this, the iPhone still remains ahead. Some people might also perceive this phone as cheapo iPhone imitation.
There are few new navigational gestures which involve a learning curve and apart from some minor annoyances; this phone is pretty good. That said, if you are happy with the OS that you are using right now, there is no need to shift to RIM.
At first sight, the BlackBerry Z10 looks a lot like Apple iPhone 5. It is narrow and tall and has straight edges which meet in rounded corners. The screen is roughly four inches big. Just like iPhone 5, this phone too can be easily operated with one hand.
However, the similarities end there. There aren’t any navigation buttons on this phone – either capacitive or physical. This phone is operated through gestures. The device is 5.1 inch tall, 0.35 inch thick, and 2.6 inch wide. It is just a hair deeper than Apple iPhone 5. The weight of this Z10 is 4.8 ounces which feels right looking at the proportions of the phone. The phone feels very comfortable in the hand as well courtesy of rounded edges and soft touch light texture finish.
Comparing the BlackBerry Z10 and Apple iPhone 5 head to head, the latter feels more premium and solid with precise build quality. Details are finely matched though. Apple has also used better quality material on their handset as compared to treated plastics and the loose fit back panel which pops out easily.
The Z10 is a bit bigger than Apple iPhone and still it fits very well in your pocket. That said, the Z10 feels a bit uncomfortably flat when it is wedged between the ear and shoulder. If you find it uncomfortable, then I would recommend using a headset.
Display of the BlackBerry Z10 is 4.2 inches big and the screen has a 1,280×720 pixels HD WXGA resolution. This means the screen has 355 ppi pixel density as compared to 326 ppi of Apple iPhone 5. The Z10 screen shows crisp edges, deep colours, and fine lettering. At the max brightness, Apple iPhone 5 was better than BlackBerry Z10 and HD pictures looked better with motor detail and colour on Apple device. Overall, the differences are quite minimal. Bezel which surrounds this display is wider than what you get on today’s phones but this didn’t bother us much.
Above the screen, there are sensors, notification LED, and front facing 2 MP camera. Right side has up/down volume control buttons and there is button in centre for voice command and pausing music. Pressing both volume buttons will take screen shot. In camera mode, pressing either one takes a picture.
Left side of this phone has microUSB port and microHDMI port. The former is placed in such a way that charging cord gets in the way. Top side has lock/power button and 3.5mm headphones jack. Long pressing start button will switch off this phone. Back side has camera with LED and BB icon close to NFC antenna.
Below the panel, there is narrow, tall battery and memory card slot. This phone comes with 8GB Class 2 memory card preloaded inside. Class 2 card means that you can’t shoot full HD 1080p videos and you will have to get Class 4 card for that.
BlackBerry 10 OS
BlackBerry Z10 comes with new BlackBerry 10 OS which is fast, cool, and gesture driven. However, you will have to spend few minutes to get a good hang of it. I liked virtual keyboard and BlackBerry Balance on this phone. I won’t talk about the OS in great detail as this review is about the phone. But I will give a short gist of it.
BlackBerry 10 has goodies like unified box and multiple accounts. You get to sign in to the multiple mail accounts/social networks and get them all on the address book/calendar from the cross pollinated networks. I did not see any contact duplicates; my friends addresses too appeared well sorted in maps app.
This phone has NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi (b/g/n), etc and everything else for chatting with your friends having BB and sharing anything on social networking sites. This handset comes with decent music app, basic maps app, and Documents To Go for editing, creating, and reading Excel and Word documents. You can also view PDF and PPT files.
BlackBerry phones have always struggled with camera. This one is a different story though and it comes with eight megapixels camera on back and 2 megapixels shooter on front. Both can record good quality 720p videos and rear facing camera shoots full HD 1080p videos.
Main camera has features like 5x digital zoom, auto focus, and options for stabilization and burst mode. Pressing volume button takes pictures. TimeShift mode clicks photo array and you can revisit it later.
This camera has autofocus but I didn’t find it intuitive. There is no ISO settings, no geo tagging, no HDR, no grid, no option for dropping resolution, and – 1 of the worst offenses — no way for silencing loud clacking of the shutter.
Image quality is decent. Photos were looking in outdoor conditions and there was lot of ambient light. Pictures were looking noisy with full resolution and at other times, the camera picked more detail than the camears of other high end phones like HTC Droid.
Video quality isn’t disappointing. They were clear looking and the audio too was good. Clips could be played smoothly without any jerks and there wasn’t any graininess in them. There are some settings options here as well. The stabilization gets switched on at the start but you get to switch it off. Flash too can be switched on/off.
For storing all content, there is 16GB flash storage built in with 2 gigs of RAM. The card slot can hold up to 64GB cards.
I tested this phone for call quality and it was quite acceptable. I made multiple calls and in all of them, there was persistent haze with white back ground noise. Voices sounded tinny and hollow. This didn’t bother me too much once I went deep in to the conversation.
Due to background buzz, voices weren’t ultra crisp and I didn’t see any interruptions or disturbances either. There wasn’t any hissing on my calls too. My friends, on the other side, too were happy with call quality. I then tested the handset for speakerphone calls and they too played well.
BlackBerry Z10 comes with Qualcomm 1.5 Ghz Snapdragon dual core S4 Plus processor inside. In my testing, I didn’t have any problems with the speed and everything played smoothly. However, the aborted network connectivity bothered me.
This phone comes with rated battery life of 10 hours on 3G, 60 hours audio playback, and 11 hours video playback. There is 1,800 mAh battery inside which lasted for one day in my tests.
BlackBerry has worked a lot on Z10 and this is a great new phone. However, it still comes with some shortcomings, like the OS comes with a learning curve to it, and there is no wide repertoire of apps like Android and iOS. Hence, it is recommended that you stick to iPhone or Android phones for now.