The Good RIM dug deep to give the slick-looking BlackBerry Z10 enough features to satisfy both consumers and professionals — like a good camera and a sharp user interface.
The Bad The non-intuitive Z10 gesture paradigm creates a learning curve, and a long list of inefficiencies and OS omissions exacerbates this experience. The bare bones app and the camera deficiency are two examples.
The Bottom Line While not enough to attract loyal iPhone or Android owners, the modern design and features of the BlackBerry Z10 give BlackBerry fans what they have come to love.
On January 30, 2013, RIM (Research in Motion) announced that the company would be officially known as BlackBerry.
BlackBerry members True, get acquainted with your new phone. The BlackBerry Z10 has everything you expect: a sleek, modern and professional touchscreen case with an updated OS that meets 4G LTE support. You’ll enjoy the ease of virtual keyboard and hassle-free BlackBerry Messenger voice chats. You will talk about the Micro-HDMI Z10 port and enjoy an 8MP camera with built-in editing tools.
The most important ways are combined: a great HD screen, a fast processor, a camera (with tricks!) That is good enough to stand next to the big guys.
However, look for glasses of RIM color, and you won’t be able to ignore the minor annoyances of hardware and OS that still accrue over Z10 – such as creating an outdated and unintuitive file system to create a new photo album and a basic mapping application , which may not fit the best Google show. For their part, BlackBerry attackers will obviously see a poor iPhone clone that offers little more than the usual features found in any modern OS worth its salt.
BlackBerry Z10: A new hope (pictures)
If you’re playing to learn a few navigation gestures, and your bigger-picture mentality allows you to see more irritation, then you should feel justified in buying a BlackBerry Z10. However, if you are satisfied with your current platform, you do not need to move to a location until RIM locks some openings in the OS.
The BlackBerry Z10 goes on sale January 31 in the U.K., February 5 in Canada ($149.99 on contract), and February 10 in the UAE. AT&T sells the smartphone, beginning March 22 for $199 on contract (about $599 unlocked). Verizon will carry the Z10 for $199 in both black and also white, an exclusive for them. T-Mobile will also sell the Z10, but Sprint will skip it in favor of the BlackBerry Q10 keyboard .
Editors’ note: You may also be interested in ours a full overview of BlackBerry 10 operating system .
Design and build
At first glance, the handsome BlackBerry Z10 looks suspiciously like Apple’s black iPhone 5: tall and narrow, with straight edges found in rounded corners and about a 4-inch screen. Like the iPhone 5, the Z10 can work in one hand. This is where the similarity ends.
You see, the Z10 has no navigation buttons, no physical buttons, no capacitive buttons. Instead, you’ll be controlling the Z10 with gestures (more on that later). The phone stands at 5.1 inches tall, 2.6 inches wide and 0.35 inches – just a little deeper than the iPhone 5. The 4.8-ounce weight weighs well in the phone’s proportions, and the device has a much more comfortable grip than the iPhone, thanks to the slightly rounded edges on the back and a light, soft-touch finish.
Of the two phones, the iPhone certainly has more solid, premium and accurate build quality. Its seams are as narrow as possible, and its details are finely trimmed. For those who like these things, the quality of the iPhone 5 material outweighs the Z10’s machined plastic and the loose back panel, which pops up too easily when I push a nail anywhere along its perimeter.
Larger than the iPhone 5 as a whole, the Z10’s shape still fits neatly in my pocket (I use the back pockets for office and neighborhood travel). However, it feels uncomfortably even when I hold it between my shoulder and ear. And yes, that is why many people use a wireless headset.
On its face, the 4.2-inch Z10 LCD has a resolution of HD WXGA with a resolution of 1280×768 pixels (that’s 355 pixels per inch; the iPhone 5 has a density of 326 pixels per inch.) You will see thin lettering, clear edges and deep edges and deep . However, I noticed that in both phones set to maximum brightness, the iPhone 5 outperforms the Z10, and the flower HD image looks brighter, more detailed and has more color variations on the Apple device. In general, the differences between them are minimal. The bezel that surrounds the screen is frankly wider than modern fashions, but it doesn’t bother me personally.
Above the display are an array of sensors, a notification LED and a 2 megapixel front camera. The right part of the spine has volume controls up and down, and in the center there is a button that triggers a voice command, which you can also use to pause music. Pressing both volume buttons simultaneously will take a screenshot. If you are in camera mode, tapping or pressing one takes the image.
On the left side of the Z10 are the Micro-HDMI and Micro-USB ports. Placing the latter almost guarantees that the charging cord gets in my way. Above you will find a power / lock button and a 3.5mm headphone jack – you hold down the start button to turn off your phone for 3 seconds. The back panel houses the camera lens with a LED flash and a BlackBerry icon that matches the NFC antenna on the opposite side of the back panel.
Also underneath this panel is a tall narrow battery (I wonder if there was room for large ones) and a microSD card slot. The Z10 comes with an 8GB Class 8GB microSD card. That’s good, right? It would be if the card supports the ability to shoot 1080p HD video. As a result, you will be shooting videos at 720p resolution unless you turn the card off to grade 4 or higher.
BlackBerry 10 OS
Here’s what you need to know about the new BlackBerry 10 OS: It looks cool, gesture-driven, and takes at least a few minutes to pick up. In some ways this is quite advanced – I’m a fan of BlackBerry Balance and a virtual keyboard – and in another way, you wonder what RIM has been doing all these years.
My full review of BlackBerry 10 OS delving into layout, gestures, hubs, maps, music, keyboard, browser … and this is the beginning. For more information about the OS, I highly recommend going to the BlackBerry 10 OS overview. But don’t worry, I’ll still tell you what to expect right here on these pages.
Take a tour of BlackBerry 10 OS (pictures)
Features and apps
For multiple accounts and a single inbox, BlackBerry 10 delivers. You can log in to multiple email accounts and social networks, and fill out your address book and calendar from these cross-pollinated networks. I didn’t see duplicate contacts, and my friends’ addresses also looked neatly sorted in the map app, basically the only really nice surprise.
You’ll find Wi-Fi (802.11 a / b / g / n), Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and all the good things about text messaging, chatting with other BlackBerry users and sharing on social media. There is a good music application, a basic map application, and mostly good Documents To Go, which opens the door for reading, creating and editing Word and Excel documents, and for viewing PowerPoint and Adobe PDF files.
For your social media applications, BlackBerry offers a healthy spoon for Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn. And yes, these are real apps, not just links to mobile websites that are masked by apps. Do you know what it is? YouTube. I look forward to a full program from them.
In addition to social applications, you will find a note program, a special sleep alarm (it turns off notifications, but don’t hold your breath for lullabies). There are Flixster, Box and Dropbox, amazing Star Wars Angry Birds, Slacker Radio, and there are quite a few Canadian news, sports and transportation apps in my review department.
More content near BlackBerry World where you can watch applications, games, music, videos and TV shows. Rovio arranges the show, while longtime partner 7 Digital deals with music. Oddly enough, you can search for high-paying apps, but filter options specifically for free apps don’t exist.
BlackBerry balance and business usage
Business and security oriented users have long been the bread and butter of RIM. BlackBerry Z10 maintains this demographic well with BlackBerry Balance, which helps you separate sensitive business applications from your personal applications with your corporate IT manager. There are privacy settings and encrypted signatures for RIM servers, as well as parental controls – not to mention BlackBerry Protect remote wipe.
With the Z10, RIM targets both individual consumers seeking a new smart device and business professionals who could easily transfer this phone to an IT administrator to get work-approved applications. The fact is that in today’s climate of creating your own phones, many businesses can handle the little extra security and leave the device park. Since they haven’t been out of the game for so long, it can be a tough sell.
Cameras and video
For a long time, the BlackBerry camera was a weak point. Not longer. The Z10 has a respectable 8MP rear shooter and a 2MP front lens. Both record HD in 720p HD, and the larger of the two can also shoot HD 1080p video.
The main camera is equipped with autofocus, 5x digital zoom, and shooting and stabilization options. Pressing any volume button can take a picture. TimeShift mode takes lots of photos and lets you view them on a timeline to choose the one you like best. There are scene modes (such as action and night) and you can select 3: 4 or 9:16 photos. (See TimeShift for full details BlackBerry 10 OS Overview .)
Although there is automatic focusing, focusing elsewhere is not intuitive. Touching the screen anywhere launches the shutter, so you just need to drag the focus bracket across the screen.
Initial photographers will also notice scant options and controls. No HDR, no ISO settings, no grid, no geotag, no resolution, and – in my opinion, one of the worst crimes – is no way to silence the shutter.
I have heard phone makers claim that most casual users do not need excessive features, but I find it nice to have, especially if you want phone owners to leave dSLR at home and use their phone as their camera instead.
Despite the slim set of tools, the image quality was quite decent. Naturally, the photos looked better on the outside than on the inside, where there was a lot of ambient light and where I could hold the image steadily. Some shots looked very noisy at full resolution, but in other cases the Z10 gained more detail than some; for example, in one comparison photo I took of HTC Droid DNA.
More detailed comparisons along the way. Keep a close eye on the camera between the Z10, iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3.
Let’s switch gears and talk about video. I was not disappointed. The video looked clear and the sound sounded good. The clips played smoothly, with no jerks, and I found no grain.
Again, you will have several options for alternative settings. Stabilization is enabled by default, but you can turn it off. You can also light the flash or not. If you want to limit the size of your video to MMS, you just have to keep it short on your own.
I used a 2 megapixel front camera mainly for video chat via BlackBerry Messenger, but if you want to use it for self portraits, you’ll be glad to know that it has 3x digital zoom and shoots video. I’m not the biggest fan of the photos taken with this camera, but the quality of the image is good for what you get. I would only follow this for video chat.
A note to your photo album: The way RIM captures screenshots and camera images is a mess. (By the way, iOS does the same, by the way.) You may not notice this if you take an unusual screenshot, but as a phone viewer, the problem of differentiation pops up. you can create individual albums, but it’s not at all clear how to do this with Photo. Instead, I received a list of instructions from the point of view of the ball from a friendly RIM service that explains how to make folders in a file manager program (!). Because there is a file manager to go through exactly how people want to use their mobile phones for simple tasks …
RIM provides StoryMaker, which combines video, photos and music to create a mini multimedia presentation. Cute, not as intuitive or extensive as you would like, and in my opinion, somewhat limited in appeal to the younger set.
The real story here is that very good built-in photo editing tools can crop, rotate and straighten photos, reduce red-eye, and add any number of filters. Here’s where you adjust the contrast and white balance and try to eliminate the noise. The app feels complete and intuitive, and in my opinion, it is the biggest added value of RIM for the camera.
I understand that designers limit camera features to get you editing, but I think they should go hand in hand. A little bit of redundancy when it comes to the perfection of photography has never harmed anyone.
See our photo shoot with the Z10, iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 for an even deeper look at camera quality.
The Z10 provides 16GB of flash memory for your multimedia and 2GB of RAM. The microSD card slot contains cards up to 64GB – as long as you format the card using FAT32. (The BlackBerry Reviewer’s Guide and Specification Sheet on the Internet read “32GB” until a CNET reader indicated that it was simply using a 64GB card.)
I tested call quality on the BlackBerry Z10 in San Francisco on both AT&T and Verizon’s networks. With AT&T, audio was acceptable on my end, but better on everyone else’s. I used the Z10 for multiple calls to land lines and cell phones throughout the U.S. One thing I noticed consistently was a persistent haze of white background noise on every call. Voices could also sound a tinge hollow and tinny. That’s not great, but if I disappeared into the conversation, I eventually forgot about it.
Due to the background noise, the voices did not seem very clear but there were no distortions or interruptions and I did not notice hiss. I did, however, hear a shining sybil on the letter S, but without exception I was able to have a long conversation.
In the end, my subscribers said the sound sounds pretty clear and static-free. From time to time, a slight crackle reminded them that I was on a cellphone and I sounded a little flattened and muffled, they said. One listener heard a distortion when my voice level peaked and declared the call quality was not the best but very good; minus A.
In Verizon, the voices sounded weak and weak and lacked energy. Often the inconsistent audio quality suffered from my test calls – sometimes amplified, sometimes missed, and the lines never sounded clear. My phone partner said I sounded a little tickle and distorted at peak volume, but overall I like the quality of the phone and the sound is pleasantly loud.
AT&T: BlackBerry Z10 call quality sampleListen now:
Verizon: A sample quality of BlackBerry Z10 callsListen now:
BlackBerry’s speakers have traditionally been strong, so I was looking forward to testing the Z10’s speakerphone at hip level. The first thing I had to do with the AT&T version was raise the volume, and I noticed that that pesky white noise lingered still. Overall, speakerphone quality impressed me, making my callers’ voices sound concentrated, focused, and controlled. This is in contrast to other speakerphones where you can almost see the decibels spraying all over the place. Trust me, RIM’s effort is a good thing.
In the end, my primary test user believed that the speaker could use some work. My voice sounded blocked at high volume, he said, creating distortion. Also, I probably sounded empty and was a little hard to hear. The quality of the loudspeaker was good, but it is not great. Solid B-plus.
In Verizon, the speaker worked very well. It was clear, loud and without distortion. As I increased the volume, the sound became more echoic and a bit thicker, but most of the time it was excellent at medium and high levels. My test caller also really enjoyed using the loudspeaker and said it was very clear.
A sign of the times, the Z10 supports 4G LTE, HSPA+, and global roaming without question. AT&T’s 4G LTE is nimble in San Francisco, and showed its zippy might on the Z10 most of the time. I must confess that during my testing period, my pre-release Z10 review unit frequently hung on sturdy Wi-Fi and over the data network; however, the finalized Z10 zipped along over Wi-Fi and 4G on the version of the phone that’s optimized for AT&T .
At peak speeds, Z10 sites load quickly (for example, the CNET mobile site in about 3 seconds.) Other parts of the OS seemed slower; It took about a minute to load the Z10 from its off position on the lock screen. Many smartphones take just 30 seconds to go from zero to ready.
|CNET mobile site load||2.2 seconds|
|CNET desktop site load||4 seconds|
|CBS Sports app download||6 seconds (622KB)|
|CBS Sports app load||2.9 seconds|
|Boot time to lock screen||56 seconds|
|Camera boot time||2.2 seconds|
|Camera, shot-to-shot time||1.2 seconds (already focused, doesn’t include burst mode)|
The 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus Qualcomm dual-core processor gives the Z10 its va-va-voom. This is one step below the company’s fastest dual-core processor, the S4 Pro , but it’s still pretty good and I could play videos and play games uninterrupted. My biggest delay issues were with the above interrupted network connections.
The Z10 provides up to 10 hours of talk time, 12.7 days of standby time over 3G, 60 hours of audio playback and 11 hours of video playback. This is not bad for a 1800 mAh battery, and anecdotally, the battery life lasted a day. Of course, my battery requirements were ubiquitous during testing, including full brightness intervals and a constant screen, interwoven with mass web browsing and exciting game play. (Word Hero. Download it.)
In our battery drain tests, AT&T’s Z10 gave us 10.62 hours of talk time, while Verizon’s gave us 9.97 hours. According to FCC tests, the Z10 has a digital SAR of 0.97 and 1.42 watt per kilogram for AT&T and Verizon, respectively.
Is it worth buying it?
There are two questions at hand. First, how well did RIM do with the Z10? Second – is it worth buying?
From where I sit, RIM has done a good job with the Z10. For a company that has a short scary touch screen service (see Storm and Storm 2 , to acceptable Torch 9850 ,) The Z10 looks good, has the desirable features, and gets the basic principles.
But this time the Z10 represents more than just itself. With its first BlackBerry 10 RIM device, it stands at a crossroads, bearing the weight of its unevenly predicted OS. On the one hand, BlackBerry 10 is a new mobile platform that can grow and mature. On the other hand, RIM had enough time to mature, building on the legacy of secure email and messaging that preceded the takeover of the iPhone. BlackBerry 10 was not a rush; RIM has almost ceased production for many years to work on Z10 hardware and software. Should there be fewer errors in the future, depending on this first device?
Buy the BlackBerry Z10 if you wish:
-You’ve been waiting for the new BlackBerry for a long time
– Recognize personal and corporate security
-Like the idea of OS based on gestures
-See alternatives to iOS and Android
-You like to give the underdog a chance
Skip it if you:
-No need to endure to learn the new user interface
-Rely on walks or public transportation on the cards
– Offer a wide variety of programs to choose from
-See highly customizable OS
-Turn the buttons to the gestures