BlackBerry Z10 Review
Whoa! What’s this? A totally brand spanking new BlackBerry in town, something that has the BlackBerry name on it, but doesn’t seem to running the usual BlackBerry OS we’re so familiar with. After hibernating for the better part of the last year, the company formerly known as Research In Motion, known as simply BlackBerry now, has finally unleashed its long awaited smartphone running its new QNX-based BlackBerry 10 platform. For a company attempting to establish its prominence once again in the business, a lot is hinging on this gamble of sorts – especially taking into factor the exorbitant amount of time they’ve spent on it.
Naturally, it’s going to be an uphill battle for BlackBerry, as they attempt to contend in an already crowded space filled with top notch Android smartphones, stylish Windows Phone 8 devices, and of course, the tried and true iPhone. Despite the odds that might seem to be against them, BlackBerry still commands a loyal following under its belt – and hopefully, they’re willing to give this new platform a chance. As we all know too well, it’s a matter of bringing something extremely compelling to the table that will intrigue the hearts and minds of consumers all around.
So what device has the prestigious honor of launching BlackBerry’s new mobile platform? Well, it’s none other than the all-touch smartphone in the BlackBerry Z10 – a device that’s not armed with some gimmicky feature, much like what we’ve seen with the Storm series. Looking through its specs sheet, it’s not something that’s going to instill fear into some of the top-tiered smartphones on the market now, but instead, the spotlight is all on the mobile operating system that’s running the show. This is it people, it’s do or die time for BlackBerry, right? Quite frankly, this needs to be something grand in order to steer people away from other platforms.
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall charger
- Sleeve case
- Stereo headphones
- micro fabric cloth
- Start Guide
- Safety & Product Information Guide
You’d think there would be a huge emphasis on design with the BlackBerry Z10, since it’s the device meant to showcase the new platform for the first time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with it, as its understated design language kind of falls flat when compared to some of the eye-catching designs we’ve seen with other handsets. In fact, the more we think about it, the Z10 is nothing more than an enhanced version of the BlackBerry Dev Alpha units that were given out to developers – though, it also resembles the iPhone 5, and to the extent, the LG Revolution from a while back.
Donning an all-plastic minimalistic construction, it obviously lacks any premium elements to make it a prized looker amongst other things. Fairly solid with its construction, the rear of the handset has a clean finish to it – thanks primarily to its dotted rubbery rear casing, which also provides for a grippy feel in the hand. Needless to say, it’s form fitting in the hand with its streamlined body (0.35” thin) and balanced weight (4.9 oz), but in contrast to something similar like the iPhone 5, it’s moderately larger in footprint. In this day and age, physical appearance has a lot to do with being unique and different amongst the heap of masses out there. Sad to say, the BlackBerry Z10 doesn’t embody the qualities we’d expect to find on a smartphone that’s the quintessential ingredient required for revolution.
You can compare the BlackBerry Z10 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Ditching the familiar styling of past BlackBerries, the Z10 doesn’t boast any of the physical buttons shared by its elder sibling – instead, they’re all incorporated into the UI. Therefore, the only thing that’s found below the display is the discrete microphone that’s hidden along the bottom edge of the display. On the opposite side, however, we’re greeted to the familiar things – like the earpiece, light & proximity sensors, LED notification light, and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera that can shoot videos in 720p.
left edge, we find a microUSB port for charging/data connectivity and an always-useful microHDMI port for quick and easy video-out functionality. Conversely, the black plastic trim of the right side is broken up by the aluminum volume control, which is a little flat to the touch, but offers a pleasing springy response when pressed. In between the volume up and down buttons, there’s a middle multi-function one that accesses the handset’s voice control service when it’s long pressed. Additionally, it acts as a media playback button as well to pause/play music tracks.
top edge, we’re not fans of its very flush appearance. Next to it, we have the 3.5mm headset jack and noise-cancelling microphone. Finally, the only item that’s found on the bottom side is a notch that allows us to remove the back cover, and acts as the speaker grill as well.
In the rear of the Z10, it’s outfitted with an ample 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash, which has the ability to shoot videos in 1080p. Yanking off the flexible rear casing, we notice that the NFC chip is incorporated into it, but more importantly, we gain access to its 1,800 mAh battery, microSD, and microSIM slots. With the latter, though, the battery needs to be removed first before gaining access to it.
Similar to the underwhelming design of the Z10, we can say something identical about its display too. Previous to this, the BlackBerry Torch 9850 had the honor of sporting the largest display on a BlackBerry smartphone, but the Z10 makes a marginal increase – albeit, we’re thankful that the resolution has been amped up. Specifically, it’s a 4.2-inch 768 x 1280 LCD screen on the Z10, which produces a very sharp looking pixel density of 356 ppi. As our eyes tell us, it’s filled with plenty of detail and clarity to give nearly everything the sharpness that our eyes crave. And on top of that, since it’s relying on good old LCD technology, colors remain on the neutral side, as opposed to the unrealistic and saturated tones of AMOLED. Combining its strong brightness output with its decent viewing angles, we didn’t have any problems viewing the display in outdoor conditions – with the sun present.
Interestingly enough, the Z10’s display doesn’t feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass, but instead, it’s some other type of material that has a plasticy feel to it. Opting for this, we’re not thrilled to find that the display is notoriously difficult to clean as well, even with the included cleaning cloth. In addition, it’s simply too much of a magnet for smudges and fingerprints, which quickly gets caked on there. Overall, the display isn’t anything spectacular, which is a shame in a way, knowing that visual appeal, much like the design, is something that get people interested and attracted to a handset from afar. Maybe it could’ve been larger, or maybe it could’ve been something neato like edge-to-edge? Indeed, there are a lot of maybes…
Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone.
Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
1. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)
As usual Johnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
V here....jokes aside
looks like pa has a new intro animation?
36. drdaly (Posts: 38; Member since: 09 Nov 2012)
I think that's not correct,
John V looked so biased as he was just telling cons not fairly reviewing the new entry of the anticipated Z10, also didn't give BB credit for their effort which they deserve by the way.
Really was upset from this review :((((((
37. John.V (Posts: 92; Member since: 27 May 2011)
Did you check out the conclusion? I applauded them for the visual appeal with BB10.
67. loyals (Posts: 129; Member since: 10 Nov 2012)
@john v ..... u let all the applications open and stated battery life....QNX is real time os , if u dont close, they will be active only..not like ios or android where the apps go into hibernate mode....try to do battery test with apps closed
39. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2058; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
John V gave credit in the ending stating that the experience was good & fresh as compared to some other platforms !
BlackBerry did do a good job with BB10 , but it should have been a little more comprehensive & complete as they had more than a year to develop the platform .
41. John.V (Posts: 92; Member since: 27 May 2011)
Dead on with that statement! You share my sentiments.
43. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)
Always love johnnnnnnnnn v's reviews, especially the "hey guys johnnnnnnnn v here from phonearena" and his smile lol
47. JohnnyBravo (Posts: 105; Member since: 02 Dec 2012)
one year may seem like a long time, especially talking phone years, but for an OS to fully show its capabilities it usually takes a couple years. I believe this is a nice solid start. I will wait until they come out with their first huge upgrade then decide if I want to go back to BB.
The only thing Im really disappointed at are the hardware materials. I thought BB hardware was premium?
65. cripton805 (Posts: 995; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)
A tip for future reviews. I came here to see a phone review. I felt as if this was a comparison to everything available in the market instead of directly focusing on this product. I want to know what YOU think about the product. Not how it stacks against the competition on every little thing. You repeated plenty of times how "it gets the job done". You can do that on those individual VS. battles you guys have.
105. depeche (Posts: 60; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)
This device is brand new and has a brand new OS; this has to be factored into the review.
When compared to past BB camera's this has to be the strongest to date.
Just because all other devices are 4.5" or more does not make this 4.2" screen inferior.. come on, it is larger then the iPhone 5's screen..
13. MONUQ (Posts: 31; Member since: 26 Jan 2013)
PA take it in +ve note.....
but u need to have fresh experts for reviews of phone.....
Bcoz old reviewers are biased to well published platforms.....
62. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
Sorry but you are pathetic. Flaming on R.I.M Day and night. :) I think i need to sell you a product called ''Life''.
4. windroid (unregistered)
7 out of 10... not good :(
15. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3024; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
Taking into consideration that Blackberry took a long time, the OS does seem a bit too subtle. But, since it's in stage 1, i can forget about that. I actually did like the design (better than the iPhone 5, if i must say)...
And i know what people will say about BB10, it'll be what WP7 was to Windows.
5. TerryCrowley (Posts: 184; Member since: 31 Jul 2011)
Blackberry is finally done. Maybe now they'll give it up.
21. SleepingOz (unregistered)
That's rude dude but yeah, BB10 is meh..
106. depeche (Posts: 60; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)
I disagree! which do you prefer Window Phone or Blackberry 10?
107. Xtasy (Posts: 276; Member since: 13 Jan 2013)
Your a complete dum ass... I wish I can smack u over the head
6. wendygarett (unregistered)
Huh? The design is not good?
guess that only technobuffalo manage to rate that high lol
12. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)
maybe jon rettinger is a bb fanboy?
38. John.V (Posts: 92; Member since: 27 May 2011)
Check out the Dec Alpha units. The Z10 looks like a slight variant of it. For a launch device, I was expecting more, since design aids in fostering attention.
91. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2058; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
Again , Z10 must have have been a good & fresh looking as the platform . Blackberry need to be relevant again and a slabby phone with not real good looks wont help them . Thats what John V is trying to say .
7. godzeus (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
I just see a repeet of what happened with Storm 2. They brought something new to the table and it failed. U can't expect people to change how they handle touch screen phones. This is something that needs a whole lot of time to do and can't be done over night. Personally I had high hopes for WebOS. Not sure I can't get suckered into thinking the same again.
Check this; yesterday I just bought a new phone and went with Sony because Samsung had the (most used) back button on a side where it is uncomfortable to go one handed. That all said i do hope this makes it. Not like they can afford another blow.
8. jellmoo (Posts: 703; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
I am loathe to say this, but this review oozes a certain level of bias, almost like the reviewer was delightfully looking for issues to pick apart.
Now, I'm not necessarily saying that this phone deserves a higher score or that it is an amazing piece of hardware, but the language used here doesn't do an honest review justice.
Add in the fact that some of the review items (such as battery life) aren't even completed and just assumed, and I have to wonder at the validity of this entire piece. I have to admit that I am a little disappointed here. I expect more from phonearena.
49. xtremesv (Posts: 238; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
I agree with you. Other sites test a device for more than a week to make a throughtful review. This one seems rushed.
11. joeyrants (Posts: 6; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
Everything seems fine except for the battery life. It seems really weak compared to its competitors out there. The best smartphone battery life I've ever gotten was from the Lumia 920. I managed to squeeze a little more than 25 hours on that thing on one charge with average usage (no gaming though).
Truth be told, I was expecting a lot more from BB. Something with really innovative hardware. Though I wouldn't go as far to say that this phone is disappointing, it was a little underwhelming (maybe my expectations were too high).
17. duwiegeneral (Posts: 48; Member since: 07 Dec 2012)
also the fade that occur when unlocking is on my lumia 800 nothing new there pa
20. fervid (Posts: 175; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)
I really liked how they went with the interface and could have put up with any shortcomings since it is pretty much iPhone + Windows Phone with speed/power/ease of Android. But, no Gorilla Glass and weak Battery killed it for me. Sell your RIM/BlackBerry stock while you can!
22. cornerofthemoon (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Apr 2010)
Nokia has the best constructed phones these days. Samsung is still stuck in cheap plasticville. The iPhone 5 uses beautiful materials but go without a case for a couple of weeks and its a scratch-a-polooza.
24. champ_vl (Posts: 44; Member since: 31 Aug 2012)
I didn't like this review. It emphasizes on the downsides instead of the nice features it brings.
No mention of the quality apps it has compared to the Windows Phone or even that Android apps can be ported easily and run perfectly right out of the box on it.
Am I the only one around here who really thinks this is a very good phone and deserves some credit?
25. simplyj (Posts: 404; Member since: 23 Dec 2009)
7 out of 10? I don't buy this review. I would expect at least an 8.
26. daftastic (Posts: 87; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)
Wasn't this the guy who always reviewed the iDevices no matter what? It's that Polish guy when it comes to the Androids and Nokia, but iPhone? Whoo this guy's face would be all over it.
27. N-fanboy (Posts: 538; Member since: 12 Jan 2013)
Goodbye Blackberry, it was nice knowing you :'(
28. slaggyb (Posts: 192; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
John V is a complete joker.....drunk in Apple and Samsung Kool aid...from watching the video, it looks like he was forced to review the Z10...Nevertheless I already pre-ordered mine unlocked at full price waiting on its arrival on Wednesday ..PSA I currently own the Samsung galaxy note ii, the Samsung galaxy Siii, the Blackberry bold 9900 and the Nokia lumia 800 which I just upgraded to windows 7.8 and all phones are unlocked and unbranded.
32. shandesilva (Posts: 73; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)
sincerely hope you would post a much better, unbiased review once you get your blackberry :)
29. isprobi (Posts: 229; Member since: 30 May 2011)
Not really a good review. The unique features of BlackBerry 10 are not shown here. There is allot more to this phone that just another icon grid. What abut the Hub and Peek features? What about BBM Desktop Sharing over video? What about the Time Shift feature of the camera? What about the learning capabilities of the keyboard?
31. isprobi (Posts: 229; Member since: 30 May 2011)
OK. I did see the rest of the review and I guess it's pretty fair. I will buy one. But I am not sure if people who want lots of apps for every little thing will want a Z10. Those who want to get important things done effeciently should love this phone.
79. madpiyal (Posts: 108; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)
I think it will also be the most stable platform and the secure one. Even though companies are leaving Blackberry for other platform will eventually come back to Blackberry just because of security issues.
30. Darkrai (Posts: 7; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)
The interface looks for like the optimized verion of Meego.
#same old swiping and gestures.
34. drdaly (Posts: 38; Member since: 09 Nov 2012)
I think they did a huge effort,
Good job BB great effort to be done alone without any help from anyone, had the feeling that john V was very biased against the device i don't know why??
I think it's a late move for BB but good one as well, the finish had to be more premium they're not some Chinese phone maker BB is a well known Brand that has to bring the finest.
Also, this phone this software are a solo effort from one company we have to give them credit for that, give them a positive push to make improvements to this platform which by the way looks like a smart and decent one, and i really liked it a lot.. Those many gestures are cool ones :) & the size is optimum, screen is perfect with 365ppi, 2g Ram, speedy processor that fits the platform and acts very smoothly, many other cool features that should be given credit not to focus on cons like John V did out there ... :(((
35. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2058; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
Don't like the review ?
Don't watch it !
John V has always & will always be one of the most unbiased & great reviewers out there .
Haters gonna hate !
42. imkyle (Posts: 1023; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
I heard the battery downright sucks, but I think maybe a score of 8 would have been better then 7.
44. winter_hat (Posts: 106; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
What's boring is not the BB10 UI, but slaves to iOS or Android devices posting their biased opinions thinly disguised as reviews. Actual PEOPLE that are using it are all raving about it being fluid, unique, and innovative. So, buyers, when in doubt, check actual user reviews.
45. winter_hat (Posts: 106; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
Unbiased? Just the keyboard ALONE destroys everything in existence. Besides the prediction above the letter where your eye and finger are, it can predict words in 3 different languages simultaneously. And it has heat mapping that tracks your fat finger's errors and subtly adjusts the virtual location for often missed letters making you think all of a sudden you are great at typing. And more. That's just the keyboard. People who are thinking of buying, check the reviews of the people who've actually purchased this phone. It's stunning.
64. winter_hat (Posts: 106; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
I also forgot space inference that puts spaceswhereyoumeant them to be. Mind you, I'm still just talking about the virtual keyboard. There are literally 4-5 major OS features that will have to be copied by Android/iOS. HAVE to be copied because they are so much better.
46. GeekMovement (Posts: 1519; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)
If anything they could have added a decent battery life to this handset, but now my excitement for this product has disappeared. I hope it's not the same with the Q10 even though the back design of that handset disappointed me despite their glass weaving technology or whatever. Could have been much better. I'm sticking with Android and going with the Xperia Z or Galaxy S IV most likely.
52. advcomputer (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
There are a few issues that I would like to address in your article;
That is typical BB and seeing how it came about from the corp environment that is to be expected
>>Terrible battery life
No better or worse than an iPhone 5 Like all Lion batteries, after 1-2 weeks of use will they start to get acclamated and give you better life. Worse case is that you have a 2nd battery that you can swap, again unlike the iPhone
>>Tough to remove smudges from the display
ZAGG screen protector will do fine for that, no?
Additionally it does REAL multitasking not just pausing like the fruit and google o/s. Itis much more secure than the others and is also FIPS certified.
I don't see any mention of NFC which again they have and icrap does not.
No real mention of BB Balance ./ Remember features and a whole host of others. So this is another crap phone arena article by John V, who does not do ANY research but rather comes up with trash and nothing to back it up.
You should be ashamed and so should PA for allowing you to post this garbage.
53. MC1123 (Posts: 1249; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
what the hell is WP's customization?! it's resizeable live tiles? lol to that.. I prefer the iOS and BB10's changeable wallpapers than live tiles!!!
54. DerryAhmad (Posts: 245; Member since: 05 May 2012)
John V. points some good points in the review. But yeah.. the language is biased towards negative opinions.
Blackberry design are often has this understated (classic) look to it. Looks is subjective. But I do think the Black Z10 design is quite nice. Very corporate look. The White Z10 has the more 'young' look IMO.
Blackberry Hub (formerly Message) and Peek deemed to be incomplete,- While I view it as different. Peek is actually a really cool feat emphasizing on the true multitasking power of BB10 - peeking through notification without leaving your current activity.
Along with Peek, this is the true heart of BB10 multitasking abilities. The implementation looks like WP live tiles, but it's very different since each Frames is actually simultaneously running actively instead of just pausing. And managing your active frames could also mean personalizing your Z10.
Applaud for acknowledging Z10 keyboard as impressive. I think the Z10 virtual keyboard is the Best and most innovative touch screen keyboard among other platform's.
The review lacks one of the most important BB10 strength -Blackberry Messenger.
By far, BBM is still the Best messaging app that any OS has at the moment. Yes it's still exclusive to BB (like iMessage), but the features of BBM is unparalled, especially:
- BBM Voice
- BBM Video Call
- Screen Share using BBM Video Call
A nice battery life comparison with other top tier phones would be appreciated. The removable battery should also taken into consideration, especially Blackberry already provided further accessory like the Battery pack+charger.
Initially I didn't quite aware of this feature. But I think I'm gonna love this feat. An app that compiled all things that you should remember - Notes-task-Browser bookmark in a single app.
Story Maker and Video Editor
I really like the idea Story Maker, While the idea is not novel, it is nice for BB to have this app straight out on launching and is actually a native and integrated to the OS.
Android App portability
This is one feat of BB10 that most reviewers neglected. I prefer native apps any day than apps ported from Android store, but at least it's nice to have the option.
While I do think the OS is fresh and great, BB10 Ecosystem doesn't have a 'healthy' amount of Popular apps. I do think it's on par with the WP8 apps.
I don't care about the hunders of thousands of apps. Just get the most popular ones (in each region) available.
We've seen some popular ones 'committed' to the platform, eg. Whatsapp. Let's hope it won't arrived too long.
Other thing the Z10 could improve is Camera. I've seen several reviews and it seems the photos from the camera are quite mediocre, especially in Low Lights. Thankfully, Z10 has built in Photo editor and Time Shift that are quite nice photo editing tool. But yeah, I do think the camera could be better.
66. MC1123 (Posts: 1249; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
i do hope that you all stop saying that the active frames of BB10 are similar to livetiles or widgets on WP or android coz its not! its a minimize window of the app so it is more similar to the short-life Nokia's only MeeGo Phone the N9!
but yeah! what you said is right!