The BlackBerry Z10 — My extensive review

BlackBerry Z10The BlackBerry Z10 is probably the most important product launch BlackBerry has ever had. The company’s future depends on how well the Z10, and the BlackBerry 10 OS underpinning it, are accepted in the fierce smartphone market of today. So when my Z10 arrived on February 5th, I immediately set out to answer one question — is this the BlackBerry people will want? Let’s find out.

Note: This is a somewhat long review (although it pales in comparison to some of the others I’ve read), but even so I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to cover everything I wanted to. There’s a lot to go over when you have a brand-new operating system like this. I’ve included a “TL;DR” conclusion available at the very end if you’d prefer that. But if you feel I’ve missed something, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to address it.

First Impressions

BlackBerry Z10 boxWhen you first open up the Z10 box, you’ll find some pretty standard kit in there — the phone itself, the removable battery, a microUSB cable, a wall plug, earphones, and the usual array of paperwork. Take the back off the Z10 (which may take some getting used to, as the first few times I feared I was going to break something), pop the battery in, and you’re good to go. While the back is still off, you’ll want to put your microSIM card in as well, and maybe a microSD card to give yourself some extra storage. The 16GB of internal storage on the Z10 should be plenty for many folks, but for those who love to put a lot of media on their devices, the hot-swappable microSD slot has support for up to 64GB of additional storage. Having said that, apps cannot be stored on the microSD card, but you would really have to go crazy with apps to fill up the 16GB of internal storage — even high-end games, such as the extremely popular Angry Birds, rarely cross the 100MB mark (I did find one exception — The Bard’s Tale is a staggering 1.3GB). You might also notice that the battery door has an antenna for Near Field Communications, a technology which seems to be gaining plenty of traction, though I personally haven’t found any use for it so far. However, there’s no wireless charging to be found here — charging is dealt with using the microUSB port on the left side of the phone. You’ll also find a microHDMI port here, allowing you to hook the Z10 up to a larger display.

Dig further inside the device, and you’ll find a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, and yes, a 4G LTE radio — the first BlackBerry ever with LTE. All Z10’s can also fall back onto certain HSPA+ and 2G frequencies if necessary. No DC-HSPA+ here to fallback onto however, which is a shame, as it tends to be a bit faster than standard HSPA+, and LTE coverage is still spotty at best. You’ll also find your standard suite of other wireless connections — Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, and GPS (with A-GPS abilities). As is par for the course on any modern smartphone, the Z10 can serve as a mobile hotspot, or tether to another device via Bluetooth or USB. Sensors are aplenty as well — the Z10 houses an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer (compass), proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor.

BlackBerry Z10With the battery cover back on, the Z10 is an extremely nice piece of hardware. BlackBerry may have had some issues in the past, but hardware design was never one of them, and the Z10 is a case in point. That rear cover is made out of a rubberized, soft-touch material with dimples in it, making it a very nice device to hold in your hand. It’s pretty lightweight too, but not so light that it’s easy to drop. The few buttons that the Z10 does have, namely volume controls (up, mute, down) on the right and a lock button on the top, are all machined stainless steel, giving them a slick look and high-quality feeling.

Up front, you’ll find a 4.2-inch display with a 1280 x 768 resolution — that means 356 pixels per inch, more than either the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S3. It’s a very vivid, beautiful display, but it does seem a bit more susceptible to fingerprints and smudges than the competition. Immediately above the screen, you have the traditional BlackBerry notification LED and a 2MP front-facing camera (with 720p video recording). Returning briefly back to the rear, you’ll find an 8MP auto-focus camera in the top-left corner, with the ability to record 1080p video. In my experience, the camera has had pretty good performance — nothing to write home about, perhaps even slightly worse than the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3, but it’ll get the job done if you’re just looking for a shooter for your Twitter and Facebook photos. All things considered however, the Z10’s hardware and build quality is absolutely excellent — on par, if not better, than the best of the best. So far, so good.

Firing Up The Z10

BlackBerry Z10 boot screenBooting the device, you’re greeted by a very pleasant boot screen — a light blue BlackBerry logo surrounded by a loading bar. Tap and hold the screen, and the device will tell you how many percent the boot process has progressed. Unlike BlackBerry’s of the past, the Z10 boots pretty quickly, maybe a little over a minute in my experience. Some of the competition can boot a heck of a lot quicker mind you, but you shouldn’t have to go through the boot process often — BlackBerry 10 no longer requires a reboot after an app is installed or uninstalled, unlike the old BlackBerry OS, and with the exception of a few minor kinks (which I will cover later), it has been pretty rock-solid, rarely requiring a reboot.

After booting, first-time users will be brought to the setup. Here, you’ll be asked to connect to WiFi if available, enter (or create) your BlackBerry ID, and you’ll be asked permission to collect diagnostics information for BlackBerry. Then you’ll be ran through a tutorial of the basic gestures, to make sure you know how make full use of the OS from the get-go. Speaking of which, let’s have a closer look at the Z10’s piece-de-resistance — the OS.

The OS Itself – BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 10 Active FramesThis is, without a doubt, the most important aspect of the Z10 — the OS powering it all, BlackBerry 10. This is what allows the Z10 to really shine. BlackBerry 10 is smooth, elegant, functional, and unquestionably a modern take on the BlackBerry formula. Forget the old BlackBerry OS, this has literally nothing to do with it — BlackBerry claims not a single line of code has been brought over from BlackBerry 7.

The gesture-based OS offers a great way of getting things done. Swipe up from the bottom bezel in any app, and you’re instantly brought to your list of currently running apps, known as Active Frames. You can have up to eight of these running at any given moment. Certain apps will display useful info in the Active Frames — the Phone app will display recent calls, the File Manager will display storage space, and the Calendar app will display upcoming appointments, among others. From your Active Frames, swipe to the right and you’re brought into the BlackBerry Hub, your central messaging app. This always-running app hosts messages and notifications from everywhere — I’ll discuss it in more detail a little later.

But what if you get a message and want to react to it instantly from inside an app, rather than going through two separate swipes? Swipe up halfway while keeping your finger on the screen, and you can “peek” to see what kind of messages you’ve received. Think they’re worth responding to? Continue to hold your finger down, and swipe to the right. And if you don’t even want to bother peeking, one seamless motion up and to the right will work as well, bringing you right into the Hub.

There are, however, some minor kinks with the gestures that you have to get used to. Peeking, for instance, is impossible in landscape mode. In fact, there’s no landscape mode for any of the home screens. But if you’re using an app in landscape mode and need to swipe out of it, you no longer use the same bezel you would in portrait – you now use one of the thinner side bezels, as this is now considered the bottom of the phone since you’re in landscape mode. Hub, however, does have a landscape mode, so once you get used to the brief moment of portrait mode, two quick swipes will bring you into the Hub without the need to revert to portrait. Then, there’s the fact that not all apps are designed in native code, known as Cascades. Cascades will allow you to swipe back from deep inside an app back to the first page, but if the app is not done in Cascades, you have to rely on the old-fashioned back button. In short, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but I definitely found myself enjoying it once I got used to it.

BlackBerry 10 app drawerOutside of the Active Frames and the Hub, you have a very standard, grid-like app drawer, similar to iOS. Some have criticized this as being a boring approach to things, but personally I like the way it keeps things simple. Below the app drawer (or your Active Frames display), you have little icons to navigate between app pages, your Active Frames, and the Hub. Below that, you have three larger shortcuts for some of your more important functions — the phone, Universal Search, and the camera.

BlackBerry 10Up top, you’ll find a typical status bar. This doesn’t show up in most apps however, in order to save precious screen real estate — you can use the Peek function to check the status bar instead. The bar is fairly standard, with a battery indicator, indicators for all your wireless connections, and the time. If you’re within the Hub or on one of the home screens, you can swipe down from the top bezel to open up some more options — Settings, Rotation Lock, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Alarm, and Notifications, as well as the date and mobile network name. A quick tap on the square icons will trigger their respective settings (i.e. enabling or disabling the Wi-Fi), but if you tap on the text next to them, you can open up more advanced options.

BlackBerry 10 does, however, have some notable losses if you’re coming from BlackBerry 7. Notifications no longer have quite the same level of customization — you can’t set individual volume levels for individual notifications, for instance, nor can you set individual notifications for each mailbox. LED notification colours cannot be customized either — an option that was added quite recently to BlackBerry 7, and could be done through third-party apps beforehand. The hardware is fully capable of multiple colours, but for whatever reason BlackBerry has not implemented the ability, and there doesn’t seem to be a fully-functional third-party solution yet. Then there’s the lack of an option to delete your emails either from the device or from both the device and the server — at the moment it seems to delete them on both automatically. The Remember app is also not quite as capable as Tasks was in some ways, which I will discuss a little later.

The Keyboard

BlackBerry 10 keyboardSince this is a BlackBerry, it seems essential for me to cover the keyboard. To make a long story short, it’s great — the best virtual keyboard I have ever used. By having a slightly larger screen than the iPhone 5, making full use of the screen real estate, and using heat-mapping technology, it is much easier to type accurately on the Z10 than any iPhone I have ever used. As for the Samsung Galaxy S3, its sheer size helps make typing quite easy, but the Z10’s intelligent autocorrect and word suggestions make for a much better experience. The more you type on the Z10, the better it gets, as it will pick up on any slang you may use or any common typos you make. The keyboard really shines, however, when you’re typing with just one hand — the ability to swipe up word suggestions becomes extremely helpful here. When you’re typing with two hands, unless you’re a really slow typist the suggestions will just slow you down, but with one hand they allow you to type much quicker than you would otherwise. It’s still quite an adjustment from a physical keyboard however, as there’s no physical separation between keys nor tactile feedback, but if you’re going to make the jump from physical to virtual, this has got to be your best bet — it’s a keyboard that makes you feel confident in its ability to punch out text quickly and accurately.

Performance and Stability

Android ports are, at best, annoying.

Android ports are, at best, annoying.

I suppose an important question for some will be the stability of BlackBerry 10 — the old BlackBerry OS, though stable in my own experience, has developed a notorious reputation for being slow and unstable. Well, I’m glad to report that BlackBerry 10 is mostly fast as hell, even when you’re running multiple apps. The only speed issues I have had are with the Settings app (this appears to have been coded in Adobe AIR for some bizarre reason, so it’s slightly sluggish compared to native apps), the Weather app (doesn’t appear to be coded in native code either, but there are some great third-party alternatives), or with almost anything that runs in Android Player, the runtime environment for apps ported straight from Android. Although Android Player is set to receive an upgrade later this year that may improve performance (and will also bring app compatibility up from Android 2.3 to 4.1), I try to avoid these apps altogether, or encourage developers to create a native version.

For example, as a shoddy Android port, Songza has crashed on me numerous times. After crashing, none of the Android ports I had would function properly until I rebooted the device. Songza most likely corrupted something in the Android Player, but there is unfortunately no way of restarting Android Player itself. The word on the street is that Songza is working on a native version of the app however, and I hope that’s true — it’s a great app when it actually works.

With a brand-new OS, comes a brand-new set of bugs.

With a brand-new OS comes a brand-new set of bugs.

It does have to be said, however, that there are still some bugs to be worked out on BlackBerry’s end — nothing unusual for a brand-new OS. For instance, there are currently some sync issues with the GMail Calendar when using the default settings (if you use the advanced settings to set GMail up through ActiveSync, the calendar should work just fine, but not all Google accounts are able to do this anymore). Appointments on the calendar will sync to your Z10, but you cannot create events for the calendar on your Z10 — any events created on the Z10 must be stored on a different calendar. Moreover, if you choose your non-functioning GMail calendar as the default calendar, when creating a new event it will not select any calendar at all, since that calendar doesn’t work — this will result in the calendar app crashing if you try to adjust the event settings. If you select any other calendar before adjusting settings however, or change your default calendar altogether, it will work just fine. (Note: Word has it that a recently leaked OS update has fixed this issue, but it has yet to be officially released so I haven’t risked loading it to confirm.)

Other bugs? Well, the Games app, a social network of sorts for BlackBerry 10 gamers where you can share your scores and awards, sometimes displays as a blank name in your app list on BlackBerry World, the Calculator app is sometimes unresponsive on launch until you switch to another calculator (there’s a standard/scientific calculator, unit converter, and tip calculator), the Contacts app doesn’t always seem to save changes when I change someone’s name (the name reverts when I close the app and return to it later), when I add someone who has text messaged me as a contact, our conversation seems to suddenly fall out of the correct chronological order, and I have had the Camera app once say “The camera is in use. Close any applications using it and try again”, despite no other apps running at the time – to my knowledge, only a reboot fixes this one, but unlike the first few bugs I’ve mentioned, I have not heard anyone else have such an issue, nor have I been able to recreate it.

Also, if you’re a PlayBook owner, I did have some trouble with BlackBerry Bridge. This app, downloadable on BlackBerry World, allows you to link your Z10 to your PlayBook through Bluetooth to let your PlayBook use the Z10’s cellular data connection, to use the Z10 as a remote control, or to view your Z10’s files on the PlayBook. Shortly after updating my PlayBook to Tablet OS, running BlackBerry Bridge on the Z10 resulted in Bluetooth bugging up and requiring a reboot — Bluetooth refused to shut off, even though none of the Bridge functions were even working. But again, I haven’t been able to replicate this issue ever since, nor have I heard of anyone else having it thus far.

Battery Life

BlackBerry Z10 battery (LS1)One of the biggest advantages to owning older BlackBerry’s was the excellent battery life — both my 9780 and my 9810 could last through two days of medium to heavy usage, battery life that is unheard of for most modern smartphones. Unfortunately, the Z10 wasn’t able to keep that same old battery life dominance. In my experience, the 1800 mAh battery in the Z10 has produced battery life ranging from acceptable and similar to the competition, to somewhat worrying. Your mileage will most definitely vary, depending on how good your LTE coverage is (if any), how many accounts you have in the Hub, how many apps you leave running, and how much you use the device. However, on an average day, my Z10 leaves the plug at roughly 7 AM, and gets home to top up on juice by 4 PM – by then, I usually found the Z10’s battery below 20-percent. But whenever I’m on the move, the Z10 is often cycling between LTE and HSPA+, likely because LTE is still quite young here and the coverage is spotty — this probably eats into the battery life. The good news is that if you do end up finding the battery life a bit worrying, the Z10’s removable battery is quite slim, and a spare battery will only set you back about $35 – or for roughly $50, you can get a spare battery bundle, which also includes a charger for the spare that can plug into your Z10 to charge both batteries at the same time. This charger can also be plugged into the Z10 if, for whatever reason, you cannot afford to shut off the device, but you are running out juice – the spare battery will simply charge the battery inside the device. This may sound cumbersome, but the charger is in fact quite small. If you’re in a phone call, you can pretty easily hold it at the rear of the device along with the phone itself.

Call Quality

Phone on BlackBerry 10Yes, believe it or not, these things still make phone calls too — they’re smartphones after all. My call testing didn’t get too extensive, but the few calls I made were all crystal-clear, with no complaints at all about the quality. I’ve heard some other reviews complain about minor quality issues with the Z10’s microphone on the other end, but personally, I didn’t get any complaints from anyone I called. Of course, call quality may vary depending on your network and signal strength.

Apps, Apps, Apps

Apps on BlackBerry WorldAh yes, apps. This is an extremely important part of the mobile experience these days, which is why BlackBerry worked so hard to get developers on board with BlackBerry 10 before launch. They made easy-to-use software development kits, held app Port-a-Thon’s, gave out Dev Alpha devices, and even offered money incentives for apps that qualified for the Built for BlackBerry certification — if these apps don’t make $10,000 by the end of this year, BlackBerry will pay the difference. When all was said and done, they had over 70,000 apps in BlackBerry World for launch, including big names such as Angry Birds, TuneIn Radio, and The Weather Network, as well as some of your essential social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. The commitment of two big names to launch an app in the near future was also announced on launch day — Skype and WhatsApp. Instagram has been all but confirmed at this point as well, and BlackBerry is said to be in talks with Netflix. They’ve done a pretty good job so far then, but it should be noted that an awful lot of the apps on BlackBerry World run in Android Player, and as I discussed earlier, that usually means they’re pretty inefficient — the only Android apps with acceptable performance I have found so far are WordPress and Remote Control Collection. But even with these, you can feel that they would have been better if the developer had done them in native code. You can’t really fault BlackBerry for this however, if it weren’t for Android Player these apps might not be there at all. So, all we can do for the time being is encourage developers to create native apps.

But what about the apps that come standard with the phone? BlackBerry 10 is packed with quite a few apps out of the box actually, making for a pretty rich experience before you’ve even stepped foot into BlackBerry World. So, let’s have a look at some of these.


Browser on BlackBerry 10The Browser is a pretty important component of the whole smartphone experience today, so I figured it would be best to start with this. BlackBerry has very quickly gone from one of the slowest browser experiences in the industry to one of the best. Combining a high HTML5 score with Adobe Flash 11 and 4G LTE, the browser on the Z10 is fast, smooth, and fully-compatible with the vast majority of websites out there. Even when running multiple tabs, or when using HSPA+ rather than LTE, I have never been anything but pleased with the performance of the browser. Although I don’t have any solid figures to compare with the competition, I can confidently say that I have never felt at any point that it’s too slow, and even though Flash is on the decline, it’s still a great bonus to have at the moment — Flash is certainly not dead just yet.

BlackBerry Hub

BlackBerry Hub on BlackBerry 10The Hub is arguably the most important app on BlackBerry 10 — it’s what allows it to really stay true to the old BlackBerry values of communication excellence. The Hub is always running, and it houses literally all your messages and notifications — BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SMS/MMS, email, any third-party apps that have tapped into the Hub API, and even your phone call log and voice mail are all found in the Hub. And as I described earlier when discussing gestures, the Hub is accessible from anywhere with a quick swipe gesture – this means you can check and respond to messages quickly, regardless of what you were doing previously. You can even compose messages for any of these services straight from the Hub. I have seen some comparisons drawn to the Android and iOS notification centres, but unlike those two, the Hub does not simply display unread notifications/messages — it displays all of them, old and new alike.

Some may dislike the idea of a unified inbox, claiming that it’s cluttered and preferring individual apps for each. Fair enough. There are, however, options to keep it organized as you please – you can view messages from individual services using the menu on the left, and you can even disable certain services from being displayed in the primary Hub view, meaning that you will only be able to check them in their individual menu. Regardless of your stance however, the unified inbox is a BlackBerry hallmark, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

BlackBerry Messenger

BlackBerry Messenger on BlackBerry 10BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) used to be huge here in Canada, and in some regions of the world it still is. When I was buying my Bold 9780 about two years ago, the sales rep at Telus told me that a whole lot of people were buying BlackBerry’s just for BBM at the time. The matter of the fact is, BBM is arguably the best mobile messaging experience there is today — secure, reliable, packed with features, and serving almost as a social network of sorts ever since BlackBerry introduced BBM connected apps. Well, with BlackBerry 10, BBM has been kicked up a notch – it still has all the same old features we’ve become used to, but now it also offers BBM Video and screen sharing. Having said that, because I don’t know anyone else with a Z10 at the moment, I was only able to test BBM Video by calling my PlayBook. The quality was very good, no complaints at all, but I wish I could try out Screen Share. This does, however, expose BBM’s main weakness — it’s not a cross-platform messenger. Could that one day change? Definitely, as the possibility has been considered by BlackBerry in the past. Until then though, it does at least serve as a great way of communicating with fellow BlackBerry owners.

BlackBerry World

BlackBerry World on BlackBerry 10I know what you’re thinking — “BlackBerry World is the app to get apps, why bother discussing it if you’ve already covered third-party apps?” Two words — music and videos. Yes, with BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry World now allows you to download a wide range of music and videos. There appear to be some great movies to buy (or rent) right now, such as Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, or Taken 2, and TV shows (no rental option here) such as The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, or Modern Family. The music collection is also pretty vast, with popular artists such as Adele, LMFAO, and Justin Bieber available to download (Disclaimer: I really rather dislike Justin Bieber, but hey, different strokes for different folks). The prices are all pretty reasonable, in some cases even lower than that of iTunes. You can check it out for yourself using the BlackBerry World webstore.

Picture Editor, Video Editor, and Story Maker

Picture Editor on BlackBerry 10It could be said that the media experience on the old BlackBerry OS was pretty weak. Well, BlackBerry 10 attempts to make up for that with some excellent media apps out of the box. It comes standard with a photo editor, video editor, and Story Maker — an app which will create some great-looking slideshows, coupled with some music, out of your photos and videos. I got the chance to play around with all of these when I attended Media Day at this year’s Canadian International Auto Show. I took several photos of the cars in attendance, as well as a video of the opening ceremony, and stuck them into Story Maker. Story Maker is really a unique app that will probably find a lot of popularity with younger audiences if BlackBerry 10 takes off, automatically adding transitions, effects, as well as an intro and outro screen with text of your choice to a slideshow of your photos. You can choose from a number of effect templates, and the whole process took me about 5 minutes, with the end result seen below.

As for Picture Editor, this app provides a number of basic editing features, such as transformation, cropping, and enhancing, either with the Auto Enhance option or by adjusting levels on your own — you can adjust brightness, white balance, contrast, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction in the app, as well as use red-eye reduction. But of more interest to the average person will probably be the funky, artistic filters and frames available in the editor — stuff such as greyscale or sepia effects, and a filmstrip or aging photo frame. It could use some more of these, however, as the choices are rather limited at the moment.

So what about the video editor then? This provides some more basic editing options for any videos you might have, such as transformation options, reducing video length, or adjusting the colours and sound volume. No funky filters here however, presumably because Story Maker serves that purpose already.


Maps on BlackBerry 10Let me start by saying this — BlackBerry Maps is no Google Maps. If you want Google Maps, head on over to the browser. Maps has your basic navigation options, search options, traffic reports, and some pretty good maps provided by TomTom. But there’s no transit directions, no satellite view, and no street view option. There’s also no 3D maps, and no option to store certain maps locally. It does, however, get a very quick GPS fix, unlike old BlackBerry’s, and even has navigation audio. So it does what it does quite well, but could use some more features.

Voice Control

BlackBerry Voice ControlBlackBerry Voice Control is quite similar to Maps, in that it’s good at what it does, but again, would be nicer with more features. Voice Control, enabled by holding down the mute button on the right side of the phone or by finding and tapping on the app icon, has been very fast and accurate in my experience, even in noisy environments. It will allow you to call or message people, update social network status’, search your device or the Internet, or add a note or calendar appointment to your device. However, unlike Siri or Google Now, it won’t do stuff like report the weather to you, find venues near you, set an alarm, or find directions. Although there are third-party apps which can perform some more advanced voice functions, it would be great to see these baked into Voice Control at some point in the future.


Remember on BlackBerry 10BlackBerry Remember is effectively the replacement for the Tasks app that was found on BlackBerry 7. Although BlackBerry also treats it as a replacement for MemoPad, Remember seems to automatically treat anything you enter into it as a task, assigning it a box to check off if it’s completed. But even as a replacement for Tasks, there are some pretty big losses here — there are no options for the recurrence of tasks, nor an option to set a reminder before the task is due. The only reminder Remember gives you is on the day of the due date you set. Speaking of which, there’s no option to set a time for the due date either, just a day. On the bright side, Remember can attach images, calendar entries, voice notes, emails, videos, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel documents, as well as .pdf files to any entries. Remember can also sync with ActiveSync tasks and Evernote. The Evernote integration, however, is rather flawed. On the Evernote website, or with most Evernote clients, you have the option of rich text editing – colours, bolding, italicizing, underlining, etc. But Remember does not support any of this, it only does plain text. So any notes done in rich text will show up as plain text, and they’ll also be rather messy if you used any text alignment.


BlackBerry Z10All things considered, the Z10 is a very solid device. Anyone currently on another platform, or an older BlackBerry, who has had the chance to play around with my Z10 left very impressed – this isn’t the BlackBerry they remember. Gone is the ridiculous need to restart after every app install/uninstall procedure. Gone are the constant slowdowns, the lack of modern apps, and the slowest browser on the block. The Z10 is a device for 2013 — fast, packed with features, and with a unique take on the user experience, using gestures for all of your navigation. Once I got used to the gestures, frankly I found myself wondering how I ever used a device without them. It just feels more natural than tapping buttons.

But make no mistake — it is not a perfect device. The battery life has been a little troubling, and heavy users will likely want to put down the cash for a spare battery. As is typical for a brand-new operating system, the software still has a few bugs, and could use some more features. It doesn’t have the same level of customization as Android either, it’s much more like iOS – you have to do things the way the manufacturer intended them to be done. Unlike old BlackBerry OS, there aren’t even any themes to purchase. There’s no jailbreak here either, and there likely never will be. If BlackBerry wants to maintain their reputation as a secure platform, they can’t afford for a root/jailbreak process to surface – when rooting PlayBook’s became possible, BlackBerry promptly patched the Tablet OS and it hasn’t been possible ever since. And as for apps, well, this is a brand-new OS. BlackBerry did their best to attract developers, but it’s still going to take time for the app selection in BlackBerry World to mature — especially for those pesky Android ports to become native apps.

So, let’s return to my original question — is this the BlackBerry people will want? Quite possibly. If you’ve always appreciated the communication, productivity, and security abilities of a BlackBerry, but been turned off by the aging OS in the past, the Z10 is definitely the device for you. The really cool, gesture-based OS will also find fans with time. But the Z10 and BlackBerry 10 aren’t even three weeks old yet. If you intend to buy right now, you have to ask yourself this — are you prepared to deal with some bumps in the road while BlackBerry works out bugs, adds more functionality, and attracts more app developers? And if you’re coming from an old BlackBerry, you may have to sacrifice a few of the features you’ve become used to. BlackBerry’s still got a long way to go, no doubt — but they’re off to an excellent start.

The TL;DR Conclusion

BlackBerry Z10 Pros:

  • Hardware is superb, with excellent design and materials.
  • Gesture-based OS is a joy to use, once you get used to it.
  • The BlackBerry Hub deals with messages very effectively, making sure the Z10 is still a true BlackBerry.
  • Fantastic keyboard, especially for one-handed use.
  • Still has most of the productivity and communications excellence of old BlackBerry’s, without the pain of an aging OS.

BlackBerry Z10 Cons:

  • Battery life is somewhat troubling at times — a spare battery may be a wise investment for heavy users.
  • Still some bugs to be ironed out in the OS.
  • Some apps could use more features to them. Certain features from BlackBerry 7 haven’t yet made their way over to BlackBerry 10.
  • App selection is limited compared to the competition.
  • Apps ported from Android are, for the most part, pretty awful.

My Verdict:

Great, modern device, but some kinks need to be worked out — the OS is still in its infancy. Be prepared for bumps in the road if you choose to buy right now.

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