Deep in the “do or die” stage of the game, I often wondered what Blackberry would have to bring to market in order to stay relevant, prior to the Z10, it was an easy fantasy. It had to be something with a massive 5 inch display, super thin, perhaps made of glass and metal and without a doubt it needed to run some super fast 8 core CPU with 4gigs of ram. HA! The Z10 is none of this, yet, I think the platform will be fine. Lets dig in.
Blackberry made sure to give the Z10 a healthy start with a 4.2 inch LCD display sporting a 1,280 x 768 resolution and a PPI count of 356. Powering the Z10 is a dual core 1.5ghz processor backed with 2gigs of ram. It has 16gig of on board storage with an expandable micro SD slot. You’ll also receive the standard wireless and sensor load out of all smartphones these days, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensor. On the front is a capable 2MP camera with 720p video abilities, coupled with the 8MP shooter at the back with a 1080p video stabilized capabilities.
Thankfully, the software received just as much attention, if not more, as the hardware. The Z10 sports Blackberry’s all new Blackberry 10 OS. It is a gesture heavy, lean, fast, stable and polished experience I never expected to see from the berry company. The two main gestures to remember both start with a swipe from the bottom of the device’s bezel, all the way to the top. The straight up swipe reveals the devices Active Cards, where you can see a list of all open apps (limited to 8 at a time,) and even a real time snapshot of what each is doing at the moment.
The second is a swipe up and then off to the right, this reveals my favorite feature of Blackberry 10, the Hub. The hub is a one stop shop for all notifications on the device, you can see emails, texts, BBM messages, social networking updates and more in one chronological view. It may sound a bit confusing, and may be a bit overwhelming at first, but I assure you, it is a god send for those of us with multiple accounts. There is no home button or home screen to speak of. This may take some getting use to, but a day or two in, it all made sense and had comfortable.
The Z10’s onscreen keyboard also receives some much needed attention. They’ve paid very close attention to the user and how they use the keyboard. The Z10 has the ability to learn where your fingers tend to make contact with the screen and adjust for accuracy! Also noteworthy, they’ve added some highly effective predictive text features to make your life easier when typing, the entire experience all comes together really well.
The camera on the Z10 is a nice surprise, it featured a notably intelligent auto focus which always seem to capture the moment as I needed it too. Images were crisp and had great color, even night shots were more than satisfactory. The image stabilization when shooting video was also effective. Blackberry packed in two interesting features called Story Maker and TimeShift, which allows you to edits your pictures into a short movie and also take multiple shots to change faces for the best result after the fact. These types of apps are much more common among smartphones these days, its nice to see Blackberry include them from the start.
Outside of the main attractions, Blackberry has done a fantastic job at packing some really smart and innovative features in the Z10. For instance, a calendar that predicts when you’ll be scheduling based on past conversations and emails, and it even predicts who to invite. The Blackberry Balance, which separates Work and Personal environments with ease. BBM also receives some very nice updates, everything from Video Chat to screen sharing, it is much stronger than ever!
When reviewing the Z10, it was very important I stayed away from comparing it to other devices on the market. Once I was able to control that urge, the Blackberry started to show its worth as a great device. Blackberry delivered a very well thought out experience and executed it with class. For me, this puts to rest the question of “Can Blackberry stop the bleeding?” This device might not be what a lot of us would like it to be, but it sure does make a case for Blackberry loyalist and anyone in between. If I had to rate this device, I would give it a strong 3 our of 5, it is an excellent 1.0 product and will become a stronger contender as the OS and feature set mature. I would recommend this device to the Blackberry fanatic who has been holding on for ever, the corporate user who is looking for the one phone to fit their lifestyle or even a smartphone user who doesn’t require a million apps. Good job Blackberry!