I have been using the Blackberry Z10 smartphone for the past three weeks, and I have to admit, I’ve found it to be one classy little number.
Blackberry executives visited Auckland earlier this month (read my TVNZ.co.nz report here) to announce the arrival of the phone in New Zealand and deliver review units to the tech press. Overseas, the company has been buoyed by strong pre-sales of its new, and some say, make-or-break device. The phone’s software has already been tweaked to version 10.1, meaning Kiwi’s will get the smoother, more up to date version when it launches here on Vodafone and Telecom this month.
Having spent some time with the smartphone I am tempted to put away my iPhone’s and Samsung’s and use it as my main communication device. That’s a big statement so let me explain what has attracted me to the Z10.
Firstly, it’s no slouch in the looks department. It’s got a beautiful refined feel to it, from the solid side casing to the removable soft grip plastic back which, when detached, reveals a removable battery and slot for a micro SD card. Physically it is relatively small and lightweight and it doesn’t try to do too much. It’s not a phablet by any means.
The 4.2 inch touch screen is bright and clear and once you get used to its peculiarities, the 10.1 OS is a revelation of simple programme navigation.
You can see that this phone is aimed at the executive market. It feels like a Porsche compared to the Toyota that is Samsung’s Android lineup (at least up to the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 – I’ve yet to spend serious time with the S4).
What would Apple be in this game of car-brand analogies? Probably a BMW with style plus performance.
But back to Blackberry. What they have done is succeeded in creating a secure work phone that can easily switch over to become a cool entertainment device when the work day is done. This can happen literally with the Balance setting that allows separation between work and personal modes.
But what about the apps? Obviously a smartphone can only be as good as the programmes you run on it. At the Auckland event the Blackberry team said there are now 120,000 apps available, including many hot favourites such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.
Funnily enough, they poured scorn on other app stores, saying “how many flashlight apps do you need?” Well with 176 results for “Flashlight” in the Blackberry World (app store) the answer must be “quite a few”.
Okay – to wrap this up here are my top likes and dislikes about the phone. If you run with just the likes, then you can see why I think you might want this phone.
Summary of Likes:
Look and feel of the handset; simple navigation; great message management; good screen; good selection of apps; swappable battery; micro SD slot; secure “work” mode distinct from the personal mode.
- Do we still need a flashing red sparkle to notify us of when we’ve received a new message? It’s 2013 – when do we not have new messages?
- Mixed up contacts. It’s all well and good to try and pull in contacts from multiple sources – Gmail, Linkedin and Twitter for example but the software didn’t seem up to managing the content. Confusingly, it merged my own John Buckley contact details with some of the 6 other John Buckley’s I follow on Twitter (that’s another story…) without asking me.
- Also, don’t be shocked when it overheats, because it does that very easily. Open a selection of apps, run Bluetooth, tick the screen brightness up a bit and it become hot surprisingly fast. An online search reveals this to be a common issue with Blackberry’s in general.
- The 8mp camera is decent enough but the camera and imaging software is underpowered in comparison to the opposition.