BlackBerry Z10 review

BlackBerry Z10 review

T3 4
  • The BlackBerry Z10 is the brand's long-awaited BlackBerry 10-toting flagship smartphone, but have the maker's efforts been fruitless? Find out here...

    BlackBerry Z10 review

    Love

    • Stylish but subtle design
    • BlackBerry Hub
    • Excellent keyboard experience

    Hate

    • Apps need improving
    • OK battery life
    • Complicated file manager

    The BlackBerry Z10 has finally arrived after what has been a very tough year for the company and with the rumoured iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S4 handsets due to land in 2013, the battle has only just begun.

    Launched alongside the physical keyboard-toting BlackBerry Q10, the Z10's current competitors take the shape of the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 920. But has it got what it takes to make it into our list of the best smartphones around? Read on to find out.

    BlackBerry Z10: Size and build

    Hold it in your hand and you’ll be forgiven for being less than overwhelmed with BlackBerry’s new smartphone. The understated design is available in either all-black or a slightly more eye-catching white on black.

    A large glass front is then sandwiched by two plastic ends with a slightly rubberised back covering the rear. With the functional 'substance over style. stealth-like aesthetics, the Z10 is something that we would imagine to be as comfortable in the hand of a bat-obsessed crusader as a businessman.

    Measuring in at 130mm x 65.6mm x 9mm it might be considered ‘chunky’, however thanks to the build quality it instantly moves into the realms of ‘durable’ rather than ‘heavyweight’. It feels like a phone that was made for a marathon of suit trousers, coffee spills and desk-level drops.

    BlackBerry Z10: Screen

    With a 4.2-inch 1280x768 display, the Z10 boasts a pixel density that exceeds the iPhone 5. While it may not be able to combat the sun as well as Apple’s handset, it makes up for it in sharpness.

    BlackBerry Z10: BlackBerry 10

    The Z10 boasts a fairly sizable bezel, something other smartphone makers are hastily trying to remove. The reasoning for this is actually the software itself - BlackBerry 10. Many of the main gestures in BlackBerry’s new OS are done by swiping from off the screen onto the display. with a swipe up from the bottom acting as both the ‘Home’ action and also as a way to unlock the phone.

    A swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen acts as both the ‘Home’ action and also as a way to unlock the phone.

    Once unlocked you’re greeted with what looks to be BlackBerry business as usual - a series of app icons split up over windows with an unlimited number allowed.

    BlackBerry Z10 vs iPhone 5 video:

    Apps can be minimised by swiping up, turning each one into an ‘Active Frame’ which then remains in a window next to the apps. Essentially minimised apps, the Active Frames can also function as live widgets showing realtime updates on news stories, giving you essential calendar information or even showing you the weather at your location. You can have up to 8 running at any one time.

    You can see that BlackBerry has created these as an alternative to Android’s widgets however it’s more a halfway house at the moment with some apps like the Guardian showing a brilliant slideshow of news images while some others show an infuriatingly tiny version of the app screen.

    BlackBerry Z10: BlackBerry Hub

    Central to BlackBerry 10 is the Hub - a stream of notifications encompassing all your accounts including Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, showing you everything from messages to birthdays. It’s certainly an impressive feature and something we can really see business users and heavy social network addicts appreciating.

    BlackBerry Z10: BlackBerry Balance

    To help appease the business users, BlackBerry Balance has been created, essentially splitting your Z10 into two halves. It lets you switch between work and personal with the two being completely cut off from the other, avoiding any potentially disastrous situations involving your holiday snaps and a business presentation.

    BlackBerry Z10: BlackBerry World

    To get your mitts on apps you’ll need to use the BlackBerry World app store where you’ll find the usual mass of overpriced stock exchange apps but also some more pleasant surprises including recent HD films, pretty much the entire singles music chart and some apps you’ll actually recognise.

    In fact there’s over 70k apps available at launch and confirmation of yet more big names including Skype and WhatsApp with Instagram likely to appear as well.

    BlackBerry 10: BBM Video

    One of the big new features to land on BlackBerry 10, BBM has been given an upgrade letting you perform crystal clear voice calls as well as video calls on the 2MP front-facing camera with other BBM users, rivalling both Skype and Apple’s FaceTime service.

    BlackBerry 10 also includes Story Maker, which is BlackBerry's version of iMovie. This is a simple movie editing app that aims to take the hassle out of creating a short home movie.

    You can add videos or images and then apply any soundtrack of your choice. Six filters are available and then once complete it’ll be rendered in HD where you can then upload to YouTube.

    BlackBerry 10: Screen Share

    A feature exclusive to BBM, Screen Share lets you do exactly that. At the press of a button you can share your screen with the person you’re having a video call with whether it’s a YouTube video, internet page or contact information. Clearly implemented as a business focused feature, Screen Share also has social potential.

    You can add videos or images and then apply any soundtrack of your choice. Six filters are available and then once complete it’ll be rendered in HD where you can then upload to YouTube.

    BB10 also gives you BlackBerry Remember - the brand's answer to the popular app Evernote. Whether it’s a shopping list or a project, you can create a workbook and then fill it with images, videos, documents or music.

    You can also add voice memos and emails to help remind you.

    BlackBerry Z10: Performance

    All of these apps require large amounts of memory and that’s where the specs list comes in. Under the hood you’ll find a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, which may not sound like much but it’s actually on par with Sony’s flagship Xperia Z and most of the Nokia Lumia range, making the handset pretty zippy.

    BlackBerry Z10 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 video:

    You also get a very impressive 2GB of RAM, something which at present is limited to high-end Android tablets. Hidden inside you’ll  find a 4G antenna which means you’ll be able to use the current 4GEE service from EE and also any upcoming 4G networks. NFC comes as standard as well letting you add BBM contacts and send images.

    There's also a Micro HDMI which means you’ll be able to throw the latest HD films and TV shows from BB World straight up onto your HDTV.

    BlackBerry Z10: Keyboard

    Onto the keyboard - the bit that every self-respecting BlackBerry fan wants to know about. The moment you start adding accounts the Z10 will actively sweep your emails and texts, learning the language you use and creating a catalogue of common phrases. This means that when you start typing it’ll intelligently predict words that only you're likely to use.

    In short the keyboard is very good, and while there will be those that simply can't cope with the lack of a physical keyboard, this is one of the best touchscreen keyboards we’ve seen.

    BlackBerry Z10: Camera

     

    BlackBerry claims to have paid as much attention to the camera with the Z10 sporting an 8MP snapper on the back and a 2MP front-facing camera for video calls.

    One of its key features is Time Shift where you can take a picture of a group and then change each face to several seconds back or forward until you’ve got them all with their eyes open (or closed if you’re feeling mean).

    The camera itself is reasonable - images are very clear but a little dark and rather oddly, you have to drag and drop where you want to focus making it a less than speedy process.

    BlackBerry Z10: Verdict

    Is this the phone to save BlackBerry? Some would argue that it has to be and in many ways, it is. By creating BlackBerry Balance, the maker has shown that it can still be the smartphone of choice for businesses.

    For the rest of us all the features that make it such a capable work phone are then focused on making it a social phone.

    The Z10 will certainly win over BlackBerry fans and if they can get the big apps released soon then they could well steal back even more users, but we can't seem them winning over iOS, Android and WP8 in huge numbers.

    In a world where everything is ‘quad-core’ and ‘next-gen’ the Z10 still manages to fight through the noise by being quietly efficient suggesting that BlackBerry may have won the first round, but only just.

    BlackBerry Z10 release date: Out now

    BlackBerry Z10 price: £480

  • The new BlackBerry Z10 is the brand’s response to its critics, the flagship handset for the company’s all new BlackBerry 10 operating system

    BlackBerry Z10 review

    Love

    • Stylish but subtle design
    • BlackBerry Hub
    • Excellent keyboard experience

    Hate

    • Apps need improving
    • OK battery life
    • Complicated file manager

    It should come as no surprise to you that the new BlackBerry Z10 isn’t going to have a hard time winning over BlackBerry fans. It’s not like it had a hard act to follow, a year of limbo has left its followers with a collection of handsets that range from the excellent BlackBerry Bold 9900 to the less so BlackBerry Torch.

    Of course whether they were excellent handsets or not mattered not as they were all running the dreaded BlackBerry 7.0, an OS that has become eclipsed by the constantly updated Android and iOS operating systems.

    Launched alongside the BlackBerry Q10, the Z10 hopes to change all that by combining the brand's superb hardware capabilities – the BlackBerry PlayBook was an excellent tablet crippled by its OS – with a smartphone OS that can finally compete with the likes of Google and Apple.

    The BlackBerry launch event also saw the company re-branding from its manufacturer name RIM (Research in Motion) to just BlackBerry - many users probably being unaware that the company was actually called RIM in the first place.

    T3 managed to get a review sample of the phone a couple of days before the official launch - not really enough time for a full review, but here's what we thought about it...

    Stay tuned for our full Z10 review - coming soon.

    BlackBerry Z10: Size and build

    The BlackBerry Z10 measures in at 130 x 65.6 x 9mm making it around the same size as a Samsung Galaxy S2. The Z10 comes in black or white and features an all-plastic body with a slightly rubberised back then can be peeled off to gain access to battery, Micro SD card slot and Micro SIM slot.

    Moving away from the glossy glamour of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5 the Z10 has gone for a more subtle effect that actually it pulls off rather well. Learning from the PlayBook, BlackBerry has combined a matte-effect sturdiness with a level of build quality that reminds you this is its flagship model.

    BlackBerry Z10: Features

    Under the hood there’s a dual-core 1.5GHz processor along with an impressive 2GB of RAM. There’s 16GB of internal memory with a Micro SD card slot that can be bumped up to 32GB.

    One of the key features of the Z10 is the lack of buttons on the front of the handset, everything is done through swiping from off-screen using BlackBerry’s new ‘Peek and Flow’ OS.

    BlackBerry Z10 vs iPhone video:


    On the side you’ll find a solitary volume rocker along with a Play/Pause button which when held brings up the voice control menu. Along with a lock/power button on top that’s all you’re going to get in the way of physical features. A mini HDMI cable and Micro USB can be found on the other side.

    At first glance, the Z10 is impressive - while you’ll be left head-scratching for the first 20mins it soon becomes intuitive to simply swipe your way through apps and no, you won’t miss the back key.

    On the back there’s an 8MP snapper with 5x digital zoom capable of recording 1080p video, on the front there’s an equally impressive 2MP lens with 3x digital zoom and 720p recording.

    The BlackBerry Z10 also packs NFC and 4G connectivity.

    BlackBerry Z10: Screen

    The 4.2-inch display looks good and with a resolution of 1280x768 at 365DPI it’s just slightly higher-resolution than the new iPhone 5. Of course figures aren’t everything so wait for the full review to find out if it can hold its own against the likes of the new Full HD Sony Xperia Z.

    BlackBerry Z10: Battery

     

    While we’ve only had the Z10 for a couple of days we’ve found that it looks to be pretty on par with most smartphones of this size with an average use of texting and browsing resulting in the Z10 needing a charge every night.

    BlackBerry has revealed it will be releasing a Battery Charger Bundle (see gallery) which will give those workaholics the chance to either charge a second battery on the go, or quickly power up their current handset using a second battery.

    BlackBerry Z10: Verdict

    Considering the weight that is on this smartphone’s shoulders to succeed it would be almost foolish to come out with a definitive verdict after just two days AND before we’ve seen the full strength of BlackBerry World’s app store.

    That said, from first impressions both the Z10’s hardware and software are impressive with BB10 looking to be a more than worthy replacement for the ‘always on’ population.

    BlackBerry Z10 release date: 31 January 2013

    BlackBerry Z10 price: TBC

    BlackBerry Z10 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 video:

    • BlackBerry Z10 hands-on & specs
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bl/xs_BlackBerry-Z10-Hands-Main-624.jpg
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    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bl/xs_BlackBerry-Z10-Hands-Hub2-624.jpg
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    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bl/xs_BlackBerry-Z10-Keyboard-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bl/xs_BlackBerry-Z10-Hands-Camera-screen-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bl/xs_BlackBerry-Z10-Hands-Music-624.jpg
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    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/bl/xs_BlackBerry-Z10-Hands-Web-624.jpg
    • Video
      BlackBerry Z10 hands-on & specs

      All the details on the new touchscreen smartphone running the BB10 OS

      02:00
    • Video
      BlackBerry Z10 vs Samsung Galaxy S3

      BlackBerry 10 loaded BB Z10 goes head-to-head against the Android Galaxy S3

      01:56
    • Video
      BlackBerry Z10 vs iPhone 5 video

      Is the BlackBerry Z10 the one we've all been waiting for and can it take on the iPhone 5?

      01:44

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