We’re all on the look out for a brand new phone every so often, and sometimes the internet can be clogged with reviews surrounding the technical specifications and how one handset is way faster than another handset because it’s got a processor in it that probably means nothing to you. That’s why I’m starting this feature. Every so often I’ll be replacing my own personal phone with another and put it through it’s paces for a week, partly because I love playing with new phones and partly because I’m looking to get a new phone myself.
Those of you who love technical specifications won’t be left out though, you’ll be able to find those at the end of this post!
As usual we’ll be splitting the review into four different parts, Photography, Gaming, Everyday Use, and Outdoors. So how did this phone do?
I had ridiculously high hopes for the BlackBerry Z10, it looks like a fantastic phone and everything I’d heard about the new BlackBerry 10 operating system I expected nothing but great things from this phone. Unfortunately I was thoroughly disappointed. Perhaps I should have curbed my enthusiasm over this phone a little because my great expectations only worsened the blow.
Upon opening the box and seeing the phone for the first time I was impressed, it’s a sleek looking phone that isn’t too big and allows all corners of the 4.2 inch HD screen to be touched with my thumb. Even in white the phone didn’t look too gaudy like some white phones can. After around five minutes handling the phone it did start to feel a little cheap. The removable back cover doesn’t sit flushly along with the rest of the phone and there’s obvious movement when pressed down.
The quality of the screen is good however, it’s vivid and responsive and as I mentioned all corners can be touched comfortably something which is definitely needed with a phone that’s very gesture based.
The phone is quite compact and the textured back cover gives it a fair amount of grip. With no physical “home button” or LED capacitive keys like the Samsung Galaxy series it only adds to the high quality appearance.
The overall quality of the phone is let down greatly by the operating system, something that I’ll get back to later in the review, but you’ll certainly be able to tell how under enthusiastic I was about this phone. I still gave the phone a fair test, but unfortunately it wasn’t a very joyous experience.
The BlackBerry Z10’s camera is very good for an 8 MegaPixel camera, it’s also very responsive too and with no pre-set button to press in order to take a picture it’s very easy to take quick snaps just by tapping the screen. It works really well in both low light and optimal light situations and checking out your pictures afterwards was an easy experience too.
The BlackBerry Z10 also offers a Time Shift mode for pinpointing and adjusting individual elements of your picture, this is something that isn’t very well explained I could enter the mode easily, and take the burst of five or six photo’s, but all I was able to do was shift between the set of photo’s taken and choosing the best one. There were no clear instructions on how to edit the individual parts of a photo. From what I’ve read the camera must detect a face before the Time Shift mode will work as the various adverts display. Something which could be quite difficult if you’re taking a picture of your child who won’t sit still (as the advert shows off).
The only real down side to the BlackBerry Z10’s pictures is the limitations on sharing. I’m an avid Instagram user but due to the lack of apps including Instagram on the BlackBerry World I didn’t really feel like I could share my pictures which in the current photo-sharing social-networking generation for me, left the camera a little pointless. If you’re into sharing photo’s on Facebook and Twitter however then that’s there, you can do that I’m just fussy and like to share via Instagram which for me as a potential customer looking for a new phone is something I’d be looking out for.
I was surprised at the amount of good quality games available on the BBZ10 with big named games like Bejewelled, Eufloria, and Need for Speed. It did lack more popular games like Temple Run, Angry Birds, and Cut the Rope however but there were various different ‘knock off’ versions of those games available. One thing I did notice though is that some games just wouldn’t work no matter how many times you downloaded and installed. It wouldn’t open and would just “giggle” the screen.
The games it DID play handled really well and played as if they were on any other iOS or Android handset which was a pleasant surprise.
Unfortunately due to the lack of games available, it again felt a little pointless as an all out gaming phone. It has the technology to handle high powered games like Need for Speed, but it just lacks the library to make it a serious contender.
The battery life in this phone was fantastic. Due to the occasional cheat on my part (and the fact that my personal SIM is now a micro sim) I did leave the BlackBerry Z10 on my desk for a day. What I was surprised to find that even though it was syncing Facebook, Twitter and my Emails, the battery life lasted for almost two days. This is something I’ve become used to with BlackBerry devices; Their battery consumption is little to none, even during every day use.
The overall user friendliness of this phone though isn’t apparent. Due to the lack of physical and on screen buttons the BlackBerry Z10 is highly gesture based. Some of which are explained during the initial setting up of the phone but others are left in the dark. To exit an app you’re required to swipe from off the screen upwards. This opens a menu with up to four of your already open apps, from here you can tap the ‘X’ to close them fully or continue to use your phone with the app in the background, something the Z10 does really well.
The overall layout of the phone is similar to that on iOS. Unlike Android there’s no app drawer, nor are their the option for widgets. All of your apps are displayed on various pages and just like iOS you can organise them accordingly into the order you require or folders if you don’t want hundreds of screens. Where the BlackBerry Z10 differs from Android and iOS is that instead of the “blind” or the notification drawer there’s a new BlackBerry Hub. This is the place that has all of your notifications, quick access to apps, and various other options such as text messages and calls.
It sounds relatively handy to have all of the most used apps in one place, but it’s not. The BlackBerry Z10 can often become confused as to what app it would like to open. For some reason it has it’s own Facebook messaging screen as well as the native Facebook app’s messaging screen and it will often switch between the two with one being more responsive than the other. It’s a similar experience with the Twitter app.
The keyboard available on the BlackBerry Z10 is the most confusing keyboard I’ve ever used. For some reason they’ve decided to display the keys in upper case with hardly any indication whether you’re typing in lower case or upper case at a glance. The quick typing feature however was quite useful and innovative with the ability to swipe completed predicted words into the text box. Definitely something I’d consider using on another phone if it ever became a thing.
The BlackBerry Z10 has the much needed upgraded maps app on it which I found very easy to use. It loaded up quickly and I was able to navigate to our destination easily. It’s the perfect size to pick up quickly and take a few snaps as well as answer calls and open emails/text messages on the go. Like the iPhone the power button is on the top and can be a little difficult to press on the move, and you’re also required to slide from the bottom of the screen to almost the top of the screen to unlock the device. It has a really fancy transitions, but can be annoying if you don’t swipe it enough.
Overall the BlackBerry Z10 could be a great phone but the BlackBerry 10 software let’s it down a lot. It feels very much in it’s early years with various little points that still need to be worked on. It’s a real shame that it wasn’t as great as I hoped and it’s a real let down for BlackBerry in my eyes. The build isn’t as great as I’d hoped either with it looking similar to the HTC One I was hoping for a solid feeling phone but sadly I was disappointed in that area too.
Personally if I were switching from an Android device or an iPhone in favour of the new phone and it’s highly raved about operating system, I’d sadly be disappointed and I’d definitely find myself returning the phone during the 7 day grace period.
For those of you who like the tech specs here they are. You’ll be very surprised by what this phone offers in terms of speed and RAM and it does show during the use of the phone, but that’s because it’s not being utilised as it should.
The BlackBerry Z10 comes with a 4.2″ screen at 1280 x 768 resolution with 356 PPI. It boasts a Dual Core 1.5 GHz with 2GB RAM with 16GB storage as well as room for a microSD card (up to 32GB) it has a Micro HDMI for connection to your HDTV or projector as well as a standard MicroUSB connection. It runs the touch screen orientated BlackBerry 10 OS, and has a 1800mAH removable battery which lasts forever. It’s also host to a 8 megapixel auto-focus camera with 1080p recording and a 2 megapixel fixed-focus front facing camera with 720p recording.