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BlackBerry Z10 Review

Discussion in 'Mobile Devices for All Other Operating Systems' started by RadioRaiders, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    01sld-blackberry-10-2.jpg

    Despite all the negative media surrounding BlackBerry lately, I picked up a new BlackBerry Z10 last week, and have been so far VERY impressed with it. Maybe I'm just still in the "honeymoon" phase, but I think this is the most advanced and elegant mobile OS out there right now. If they would have released this OS a few years earlier, they might not be in the financial mess they're in now.

    Initial Impressions

    Anyway, less about the company, and more about the phone: my trusty Moto Droid 3 (Android 2.3) is holding up well, but after 1.5 years I was getting itchy to try something new. I was looking at Nokia/WP, but then realized that WP doesn't have an API for signal strength, meaning I can't build a Cellumap app for WP. Looking around, Android and BB were the only 2 OS's that offer this ability. So I turned my attention to BlackBerry to see what they were about. Playing with the new BlackBerry 10 phones in the store was a little confusing at first. There isn't any physical buttons, no "home" or "back" buttons like Android. Everything is "gesture" based (ie: swiping the screen). The menu isn't exactly the standard "row of icons" like Android, iOS, etc. So at first look it's a little confusing, but after spending a little more time with the phone, everything becomes simple quick.

    (3) BB Z10 - Navigation.jpg

    Menu

    On the far left is the "Hub" (ie: message center), all notifications are pushed there, e-mails, BBM, etc. BlackBerry stays true to it's roots there, and e-mail setup was extremely simple. I think I got my Gmail account setup there quicker than in Android (!). Moving to the 2nd screen from the left is where the "live tiles" are (looking a little "Windos Phone-ish"). If you minimize an app, it goes there (to minimize an app, you have to "swipe up" from the bottom of the screen). If you want to kill the app, click the little "x" on the bottom. Then in the next screen is the standard app tiles. If you swipe from the top of the screen downward, you get "settings", "wifi", "alarm" and a few other settings. If the screen is locked and you swipe down, it goes in "bedside" mode, where an orange clock is displayed (nice to glance at in the dark)

    clock.png

    Apps

    As for apps, it comes with most "standard" apps pre-installed, like YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, media player, etc. The standard BB apps are very nice as well, like the compass, stopwatch, calculator, etc. Some nice "Office" type spreadsheets and document writers are there too, but I don't really use them.

    Additional-features.jpg

    I was worried about the availability of apps in BlackBerry World, but actually, I found most of the same or similar apps that I have installed on my Android phone. Skype, currency converter, Angry Birds, flashlight, etc. were all to be had.

    Misc

    The built-in web-browser is amazing! Fast, solid, stable. A major step up from the crap Android 2.3 web-browser.

    The phone came with OS 10.0 installed, and I left it on that for a week before upgrading to 10.2 just to see the difference. No major difference, except the only noticable improvement was in battery life. On 10.0 the battery would be at 50% at the end of the day with minimal use, and after the upgrade it's at around 80%. The Z10 has a removable battery (another thing I look for when buying a phone) so swapping out to a fresh battery is always a nice option to have.

    Summary

    I really have no idea why this phone isn't selling better than it is. BlackBerry is back. This is really a well made and elegant phone. The only thing BB failed to do was deliver this OS on time. They released this in 2013, probably 5 years too late, people had lost interest in BB and moved on to Apple and Android. Now with all the negativity surrounding them, people don't even consider buying a BB because nobody wants to be associated with "the losing team", so to speak. However, if you put all preconceived notions aside and look at just the phone/OS alone, it's a winner. Big time. And with BB sitting on stockpiles of them, they are starting to blow them out. BB is selling them direct for $400 unlocked:
    BlackBerry Unlocked Smartphones - ShopBlackBerry.com

    Can't wait to get building a Cellumap app for this! Look for it in the coming months. Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention: the new BB10 OS is built on QNX, which is a software that powers alot of "mission critical" devices, that can be found in fighter jets, medical equipment, etc. so I suppose it should be fine for a phone too.
     
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  2. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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  3. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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  4. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    Nice review, thanks. Looks like a good phone. Had to be hard for you to give up a physical keyboard.

    If Blackberry had released this OS 5 years ago, 2008, the same year that I bought my first iPhone (2nd gen iPhone 3G), I would have certainly given it a 2nd look.
     
  5. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Thanks. Yes, this is actually my first phone without a physical keyboard. I would have preferred if it did have one, but hardly any mgrs are still making them, so I don't really have much of a choice. Well, the Q10 or Q5 have them of course, but at the sacrifice of screen size, which isn't worth it. The Z10 screen keyboard isn't all that bad tho, as far as on-screen keyboards go. I acually like the look of it more than anything.

    311748-blackberry-z10-keyboard.jpg


    That's the main problem, BB was too late to release it and everyone had got tired of waiting and moved on. Most people are too settled into iOS or Android to bother trying something new. But BB10 is a really nice OS that does deserve a 2nd look. Even Apple-fanboy David Pouge gave it rave reviews:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/t...rry-refreshed-lives-to-fight-another-day.html
    60 Seconds With Pogue: BlackBerry Z10 - Video - NYTimes.com

    The "swiping" between screens is really addictive, everything moves very fast and fluid. Actually, I was comparing my Z10 to my friends Nokia N9 running MeeGo (yes, we live in the Land of the Misfit Toys), and they seemed kind of similar in some ways. He's very happy with his N9 as well.

    Other misc comment: selection of apps is pretty good, but some apps that were ported from Android are kind of "slop-jobs" and not well done. The native BlackBerry apps are usually much better. In the BlackBerry World app store, they say next to the app if it's native or not.
     
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  6. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Now that I have been using the phone for a few months, I thought I'd do a small follow-up review:

    Good

    -Web browser: one of the things I use my phone most for is web-browsing when I'm waiting for a bus or have a few minutes to kill. The web-browser is great on this phone. Fast and stable. Easy and intuitive. I love using it. You can even choose to disable Adobe Flash in the settings, so the choice is up to you. The only bad thing, is sometimes the text sizes are rendered differently, but that's a minor issue to me.

    -Screen: the screen is nice to look at, good pixel density, colors are displayed nicely. The glass doesn't seem to pick up finger prints like some cheaper phones do.

    -Message hub: now I am used to having all my messages (text, e-mail, Facebook, etc.) in one location. It will be hard to go back to Android or another OS now.

    -Overall look-and-feel: the overall look and feel is very nice and elegant. The rubberized back keeps it from slipping out of my hands. The size and weight of the phone has a good balance, and feels good in the hand. The "gesture" based swiping between screens is nice too, hard to go back to Android. On-screen keyboard is nice, but I'd still prefer a physical one. The new BB CEO says he's moving back more to the physical keyboards, so we'll see how future BB's look.

    Bad

    -Battery: the main negative is the battery life. It doesn't seem to be as good as previous phones I've had. Normally, a day of moderate/light use leaves me with 60-80% battery. Moderate use leaves me maybe 30-40%. I rarely use it heavily, and never ended the day with less than 30%. The up-side is I have a spare battery standing by, but so far haven't needed it.

    -Screen unlock: to unlock the screen, you need to enter a alpha-numeric code. Android has patterns which is much easier, Apple has fingerprints or also patterns (I think). So I'm not sure why BlackBerry stays with a alpha-numeric code, which is kind of un-friendly. Altho I guess maybe more secure (?) I would like to see BlackBerry add a pattern way of unlocking as well.

    -Apps: altho I am happy with the BlackBerry world app selection, and have 90% of the same apps on my BB as I did on my Android, there is still on occasion an app that I need that isn't made for BlackBerry. For example, at work I need to download a specific app, and this app is only made for iOS and Android. Also, BlackBerry Maps are installed, and I can't seem to get Google maps on there. Actually, I don't use maps much on my phones lately, so I can't really give a good comparison of BB Maps vs Google maps, but I would like the option of GMaps anyway.
     
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  7. dmapr

    dmapr Silver Senior Member
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    The screen unlock is not as simple as it may seem. While Android does indeed have multiple ways of locking the screen, an application with administrative access can enforce a policy that limits your choice. A password protection is the most secure, followed by a PIN code. Exchange sync protocol is one of such administrative apps and most security-conscious IT departments will enforce at least a PIN policy (some enforce passwords) which will leave you with a choice of either not syncing or moving away from the pattern/face/whatnot unlock. Of course one could fork over $20 for Touchdown HD which doesn't enforce the policy...

    Since Blackberry comes with more built-in security features than either iOS or Android and also targets the audience which is much more likely to be connecting to networks enforcing more secure policies it stands to reason that it will only do alpha-numeric locking.
     
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  8. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Speaking of the screen-lock:
    Sounds like an interesting ...and unique... and secure... and easy... way to unlock the screen. Can't wait to try it :)
     
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  9. dmapr

    dmapr Silver Senior Member
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    Hmm... maybe I should try it, too. Need to find out if I'm allowed to upgrade our Z10 first.
     
  10. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    I thought you have an S4? Or you have a Z10 for work?
    I just tried the "Software Updates" check in the settings, but it said I have the latest version (10.2.0) so I guess I have to wait a little until the 10.2.1 is pushed in my area.
     
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  11. dmapr

    dmapr Silver Senior Member
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    I have a cabinet full of phones at work, including a Z10 :)
     
  12. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Nice :). At work I have a cabinet full of base stations, but not really many phones ;)

    Here's a demo of the picture password:
    [video=youtube;ucpQ_0iHrWg]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucpQ_0iHrWg[/video]

    As for the 10.2.1 update, it was only announced a few days ago, I guess it should be coming very soon. Here's the official page:
    BlackBerry issues important software update: BlackBerry 10.2.1 | Inside BlackBerry

    I like also being able to see the battery level in the drop-menu, and the addition of a flashlight there is nice as well.
    1021.jpg
     
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  13. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    After 2 weeks of waiting, I finally got the notice Friday that the update was ready for download :) The picture-password is very cool. It's also very exact "close enough" doesn't count, you have to get the number exactly on the part of the picture that you specify. After 5 wrong tries, it makes you spell "blackberry", I guess just to make sure you aren't "pocket-dialing". After 10 wrong ones, I think you have to then enter your alpha-numeric password to unlock. What I like about it is that someone can watch you unlock your phone, and still have no idea what the number/picture combination is.

    The other nice part about the update is the "drop-menu", as showed in the previous post. You can select which features are displayed (something like 10-15 options), and as well in what order they are displayed.
     
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  14. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    One other nice feature of the 10.2.1 upgrade is that when your phone rings, you have the standard options of answering or declining, but you also now have a 3rd option, to decline and have one of 3 customized text messages sent, for example "I'm in a meeting now, I'll call you when it's finished" would be sent to whoever called you when you decline their call (I discovered this today when I was in a meeting and my phone rang :cool:)
     
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  15. dmapr

    dmapr Silver Senior Member
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    Nice. On my phone there are 4 or 5 stock messages on that menu plus the ability to write my own, but I'm glad BB is moving in the right direction :)
     
  16. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    Yeah, my iPhone iOS gives 3 changeable text replies too. Funny thing is that i have not used them once. I think I have to make that decision in the time frame to answer the call. Usually I just mute, and text later.
     
  17. dmapr

    dmapr Silver Senior Member
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    I've only used it once, but then I've only had the ability to send texts for two weeks :)
     
  18. viewfly

    viewfly Mobile RF Advisor
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    HaHa! is that due to the switchover to the new AT&T mobile family share plans? Now you have unlimited text...or any text?
     
  19. dmapr

    dmapr Silver Senior Member
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    Yes. Prior to this I was using Google Voice for texting (and I still do when I'm abroad) but GV doesn't integrate into the reject call SMS, at least not yet.
     
  20. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Since the 10.2.1 upgrade, I've noticed a drop-off in battery life :( Maybe 10-20% worse than before, and it wasn't all that good before. Still I start the day with a full charge and it makes it to the end of the day without a recharge. Now instead of ending the day with around 50% charge, I'm ending with maybe 40% or so instead.

    One other good thing about the picture-password, is also that you can't figure out the unlock by the finger smudges on the screen either, because each time the numbers appear in a different pattern. On my Droid 3, if you look at the glass, you can sort of see the unlock pattern by the finger-print smudges if I haven't cleaned the screen recently.
     
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