BlackBerry Z10 review
|Review: January 2013|
In a nutshell: The BlackBerry Z10 is a pure touchscreen phone running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system With a 4.2 inch HD display, a powerful virtual keyboard and user interface, it's a great phone for power users, especially with 4G. Battery life is an issue though, and so is the price.
With no product launch for 18 months and delay after delay in releasing the new OS, BlackBerry's market share has fallen from 20% in 2010 to just 3.4% now. Most users have jumped ship to Apple or Samsung. But technology is a fickle world, and people can switch brands simply for a change, so there's a real chance of a turnaround if the Z10 can deliver. But can it?
Design & looks
The Z10 is a pure touchscreen device, not unlike the old BlackBerry Torch designs, but with a more modern, minimalistic look, free of buttons. Constructed from glass and plastic, it doesn't have the premium feel of the iPhone 5, nor the huge screen of the Samsung Galaxy S3, and it's hard to imagine ex-BlackBerry users looking at the Z10 and thinking, "I've got to have it!" based on looks alone. There are some classy elements to the design though, including the sleek metal buttons along the edge, and it's certainly not in any way an unattractive phone. At just 9mm depth, it's also a fantastically slim phone. An LED indicator shows missed calls and other notifications.
The screen measures 4.2 inches diagonally with an impressive HD resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels. That's even more pixels than the Samsung Galaxy Note II, and the pixel density of 356ppi is a finer resolution than Apple's Retina display. It can't fail to please.
The handset is available in a choice of Black or White.
It's the operating system that the new BlackBerry range is all about. We've reviewed BlackBerry 10 in detail, and our main conclusions are that it's a powerful system that's best-suited to heavy users, but which has quite a steep learning curve and may frustrate lighter users.
Key highlights of the gesture-based interface include multitasking with 4 active frames on screen at once, a very powerful virtual keyboard with advanced auto correction and word suggestions, and BlackBerry Hub which provides constant access to emails, texts, notifications, feeds, and calendar events.
BlackBerry Messenger now supports video chat and BlackBerry Balance lets you keep personal apps and information separate from work data.
The number of apps in BlackBerry World has increased to around 70,000, although this still falls a long way short of the number of apps available to iOS and Android users. Pre-installed apps include BlackBerry Hub, BBM, Contacts, a new improved Browser, Docs To Go, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and BlackBerry Maps.
Processor & memory
A 1.5GHz dual core processor powers the phone, and seems to be perfectly up to the job. The Nokia Lumia 920 has a similar spec processor and proves that you don't need quad core to run a high-powered business phone.
The built-in memory of the phone is a modest 16GB. Although a microSD card can be added for up to 64GB of extra storage, we'd really have liked to see more memory included in a phone like this.
On a more positive note, the 2GB of RAM is very generous and gives plenty of space for multitasking.
OK, so you don't buy a BlackBerry for its camera. Or do you? Because the Z10's camera is the best we've seen an any Blackberry phone.
It's an 8 megapixel job with a nice big f2.0 aperture and a BSI sensor for improved low-light performance. It even has a dedicated image processor to speed up its image capture and focussing.
On top of that, BlackBerry's 10's new Timeshift feature can enhance group photos by taking several shots in sequence and then letting you select the best shot for each face that the camera detects. You can choose the moment when one person smiled and another moment when another person wasn't blinking, etc to create your perfect all-smiley group photo.
The camera is also capable of 1080p full HD video capture and has a video stabiliser too.
A second front-facing 2 megapixel camera can record 720p HD video and can be used for video chat.
Connectivity is one area where the Z10 excels. It's a quadband 4G phone, with triband HSPA and quadband GSM to fall back on, meaning that it should get a signal anywhere in the world.
Wi-Fi is available for fast data munching and it also has wireless Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 2.0. NFC is a nice addition, enabling communication with other NFC-enabled devices with a tap. And it also has a micro HDMI connection for connecting to a HD TV.
Previous BlackBerry phones - especially the more recent ultrathin models - have struggled with battery life. The Z10 is fitted with a 1800mAh battery, and we just don't know if this is going to satisfy its users. This is the smallest battery of any current high-end phone. And since Z10 users are expected to be multitasking and swiping their screens 24/7, we don't think this is going to be enough.
Conclusion - nice but not absolutely essential
Remember the days when owning the latest BlackBerry was absolutely necessary for business? Those days are over and the Z10 isn't bringing them back.
Whilst there are very many nice features about the Z10 - and some features that we love - the package as a whole doesn't stand head and shoulders above the competition. In a way, what BlackBerry has done with BlackBerry 10 simply validates iOS 6, Android and Windows Phone 8 as legitimate alternatives. At S21 we always love choice, but that's all the Z10 is - another choice.
We do think that pricing deserves a paragraph all of its own. At around £500 sim-free, or available free on contract for around £36 per month, it's pushing the limits here. For a company that's fighting for survival, this kind of premium pricing just feels wrong. BlackBerry needs to give its supporters reasons to buy, not the opposite.
But we don't want to end this review on a sour note. Let's love the HD display and the smart, understated looks of the Z10. Let's appreciate the undoubted power that BlackBerry 10 offers the power user. Let's applaud the connectivity options, the fast processor and the cool camera functions. And let's not worry too much about the battery life or the complexities of the user interface. If you want to buy the Z10, then you should, because there's no compelling reason not to. Apart from the price. And if you're part of BlackBerry's core target market, that won't put you off for a moment.
BlackBerry Z10 features include:
- 8 megapixel camera with flash, autofocus, image stabilisation, face detection and 5x digital zoom
- 1080p HD video recording
- Display: HD touchscreen, 1280 x 768 pixels, 4.2 inches, 24-bit colour depth
- Media player
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, BBM, email
- Voice recognition
- Integrated hands-free speakerphone
- GPS with BlackBerry Maps
- Memory: 16GB with support for microSD card (up to 64 GB)
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, 3.5mm stereo headset port, micro HDMI, NFC
- Processor: Dual core 1.5 GHz
- Internet: Web browser, social media
- Size: 130 x 66 x 9 mm
- Weight: 137.5g
- 4G LTE plus 3G HSDPA, GPRS, EDGE
- Battery: 1800mAh
- Talktime: 10 hours
- Battery standby: 13 days
BlackBerry Z10 user reviews
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Average rating from 12 reviews:
Reviewed by Valter
on 23rd Apr 2014
I've use to be a Blackberry user before, best feature was push e-mail ( very useful ) sadly not any more.
Comparing with other product on the market it looks that BB with Z10 model is back in business again. It is simple straight forward communication device , without unnecessary application , for most of the time we need just to update them ??? spending our balance on account , draining battery etc.
On the plus side there is not to many BB device around , and you have in hand proper communication device.
On the minus side there is really not much .
As usual we need to decide: and if we need communication device choice is obvious, just tick all the box for my needs not more not less.
My next phone will be BB Z10
Reviewed by lezzer
on 8th Feb 2014
bought this phone 28.12.2013.. for £100 incpx
as good as iphone if not better..
Apps now plentiful
battery life not brill tho
with bbm and android capability brilliant
Reviewed by Steve
on 6th Jan 2014
Bought the Z10 last week at a reduced price. It is a good-looking smartphone, and the browser,even on 3g is quite fast, although on PAYG,not able to use 4g yet, so can't use Video calling. Sending tweets,and messages is simple either by typing them, where you will be offered words they predict you wish to type,or by dictating to your very own PA.(Voice command) who will type it and send it for you. The camera is very good,both the picture and the sound. Blackberryworld is increasing and has many of the apps you will know from android, or similar ones, and download is fast. On the downside, battery life is at best average, but this is expected from a smartphone. It's a great phone and I recommend it.
Reviewed by Sam
on 16th Oct 2013
This is a real smartphone and does really well in managing my work emails. I have realised ppl that normally complain about the z10 are not real smartphone users and know very little about smartphone features. I personally think it even delivers more than needed. Battery life might be sort of short but lets be real other non BB phones have similar issues. We should get the category right when comparing phones. BBs are business phones not handheld game consoles that make and receive calls. Giving bad reviews on the z10 based on games and third party apps on the software market is just wrong. Great business phone. GOOD WORK BLACKBERRY!
Reviewed by THONS
on 30th Sep 2013
i think this is the way to go, the product specifications are satisfactory, thanks to the admin and techno department
Reviewed by Tris from UK on 28th Aug 2013
Just been upgraded from windows to the z10 for work. I'm a firm windows phone fan and wasn't to happy about having to change to the z 10. After a few days off using it I began to find it a very good phone indeed. I also own a nokia n9 which is super addictive to use. The z10 shares a lot of the n9s features. Multitasking,swiping and dedicated hub screen. The one thing I'm really impressed with is the motivations. Let's face it. On wp8 its very weak. On the z 10 its superb. This is a hard phone to rate. It can do all the things the others can and the camera isn't to bad at all. It just isn't as good as as iphone or so for general use and content...... but as a tool for work its outstanding. Far better then anything else. After using the z 10 its changed my mind totally. I hope they stay in the game.... they deserve to. A phone should be judged by how it fits into your life and how well it carries its tasks out. As a general phone its surpass by many others but as a communications work tool its simply outstanding. For that reason I think its worth 5 stars. Bb10 is on the right track.
Reply by Tris from Uk on 31st Aug 2013
On reflection it would be wrong to compare to z10 to the i5 or s4 or even any lumia. If you buy a blackberry you know what your buying into. A rock solid work horse. This is a communications and productively tool first and foremost. It just happens to have media and games functionality. It even has work and personal profiles. If you use any bb10 within its limitations and to the best of its functionality it will reward you like no other phone..... And it's only set to get better with bb10.2. I'm extremely pleased with mine and has became my primary phone!
Reviewed by Craig from UK on 27th May 2013
I wanted to like this phone so much, but coming from a platform like IOS it was just impossible. The lack of apps make it a boring device. After buying it sim-free I found it dull and boring after 6 hours and immediately stuck it on eBay. Even the apps that are available are diluted in terms of quality in comparison with the iPhone or an Android device. Most apps are ported straight from Android and have been given no attention by developers before releasing them for Blackberry.
The gestures for using the phone seem good in videos but they were a little annoying to use after a while, and I felt like the keyboard wasn't as good as it looks. The 'flick up' to select your next word while typing wasn't as pleasurable to use as I thought it would be. The OS still seems unfinished but good try. Blackberry always seem to be playing catch-up and I don't think that will change anytime soon.
Reviewed by Ella from England on 6th May 2013
Not bad brill update frm old bb ad myn two weeks got rid boring app world stil not as gud as apple or andriod couldn't deal with it boring batt was gud until downloaded eBay didn't last day I get txt and read it but wud stil say I ad one even wiv deleting everything out hub losed signal twice and started freezing taken bk
Reviewed by Eddie from UK on 27th Mar 2013
I've had my BB Z10 for about a week now and I am very happy with it. I upgraded from a BB 9860 both are on the UK O2 network; this is the 4th Blackberry phone I have owned, so I am a bit biased towards them. I don't knock other phones, I just go with what I like. I can see the attraction of the iPhone, it's a great bit of kit, I just don't like the way Apple tie you in to things. Likewise Android, there a some great phones out there, I just prefer how Blackberrys works, I find them very intuitive and am comfortable with them. So on the review; the phone itself feels solid enough, the back is plastic, but feels fine and fits nice and securely on the phone, but is easy to remove when needed; such as to access the micro SD card, which can be done without having to remove the battery. The screen is crystal clear and a joy to use. I'm getting about the same battery life as I did on my 9860, even though I am using the Z10 more and I've left the wireless switched on. After a full charge, I seem to be able to get 2 days use, just; however, I am by no means a power user. The software whilst running smoothly and being easy to use, nevertheless still requires some refinement. One area the needs some attention is Contacts, despite disabling Facebook, Twitter, et al contacts within my contact list, they still appear when I'm trying to address an SMS; I'm sure this will be fixed in future updates, but it can be annoying. Likewise the new Blackberry Link computer software also needs a few tweaks; for instance you cannot point it to where your music is stored on a PC, and in my case it is unable to find it on its own. This is not a big problem and may well be fixed in the big update that is due soon, that will allow full synching with PIM software. On the App front of course BB has always been weak and the Z10 fares no better than before. I am missing my Shazam and Scan Life apps, but I'm sure they will appear eventually (at least I hope they do). Some of the apps that have been appearing recently, have been ported over from Android apps; that may be the future route for apps to BB, who knows!
In summary, I am very happy. I think the hardware side of the phone is excellent and as good as any phone I have seen (my kids have iPhones, the wife a Galaxy S3). The software although not perfect in functionality yet, runs smoothly and is very easy to use and well thought out. Battery life is as good as my last 9860 and better than the kids' iPhones (I have also ordered the Z10 charger bundle which seems a great idea). Overall I would happily recommend the Z10 and despite the problems mentioned in the review, believe it to be worth 5 stars, as there isn't a perfect phone out there yet and this is as good as anything else in the market.
Reviewed by george dawson from united kingdom on 9th Mar
The features on the Blackberry Z10 are excellent with easy to follow instructions built into the phone and also plenty of Blackberry video support online.
The camera is excellent too, some great features including the shift mode to capture the exact moment.The camera is also HD which make the picture quality superb.
Reviewed by jason from uk on 13th Feb 2013
It is an ok phone. I find the interface bit confusing. It's certainly a step forward for blackberry if you do like a touch screen but apart from that nothing special. Also the camera is not very good. Compared it to my friend's nokia lumia at same conditions and the lumia wins hands down in all conditions. So I took it back cause it's not worth the money when compared to the competition.
Reply by jack mawson from united kingdom on
24th Feb 2013
What Nokia lumia was it?
Reply by jason from uk on 18th Mar 2013
The lumia 820. But the 920 beats any smarthphone right now but it's expensive!
Reviewed by TSB from UK on 6th Feb 2013
Ordered the Z10 for myself and iphone 5 for my wife together over the weekend. Received them a couple of days ago and have been comparing them against each other. The iphone5 is great, my wife loves it after her 3gs, but the Z10, what a phone, best blackberry ever! Very well made, perfect size, great display combines all the best bits of a blackberry with a modern touchscreen smart phone. Upgrading from a Bold 9780, i am not missing the button keypad at all. The amount of thought that has been while developing the phone is clearly evident and admirable. Some people may find the lack of apps a drawback (don't know how can people find the time for all those apps and games), but for me, as a phone and as a device to communicate, I cant fault it.
Reply by Eddie from UK on 8th Feb 2013
What is battery life like? I currently have a BB9860 and get 2 days from a charge, will the Z10 give me that?
Reply by TSB from UK on 12th Feb 2013
Z10 easily sees me through a day of moderate to heavy use. I charge mine every night, don't want to risk it running out of juice the next day.
Reply by Rab Warren from London, UK on 22nd
How do you find the keyboard? Even though I have quite large fingers I find the BB keyboard essential for accurate typing on the 9780. I was planning to wait for the Q10 to be released but if that unit is delayed I may have to opt for the full touchscreen.