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…