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Summary:

After using the BlackBerry Z10 for a few short days, some immediate impressions come to mind. Here are my initial thoughts, with a full review to follow after more usage.

BlackBerry Z10

It hasn’t quite been 48 hours since I left Wednesday’s BlackBerry 10 event with the new Z10 handset, so I can’t provide a full review yet. Stay tuned for that next week. However, as I formulate the review, I’m definitely seeing things I really like about the new product, as well as a few aspects that have me scratching my head.

In no particular order then are some thoughts on the experience, both good and bad. I think many of the shortcomings can (and will) be resolved over time, but of course, you should always buy a product for what it does now, as well as for your specific needs.

  • The Z10 hardware is impressive. Great display, responsive and has a nice texture on the back, making it comfortable to hold. It weighs a little more than the iPhone 5 and is a smidge thicker, but doesn’t feel bulky at all.
  • I haven’t used the camera except for a few stills, so I can’t comment. I did read about poor low light camera performance, which I’ll test.
  • Battery life has me concerned, particular because I’ve been using the device on Wi-Fi only until this morning; I’m now using a nano SIM with adapter. I got through the day yesterday but not with heavy usage; I’ll say moderate with little video playback. Battery level was 20 percent at the end of the day.
  • I like that there’s no hardware “home” button. BlackBerry’s gestures are quite good — they were on the PlayBook too — and bring more functionality.
  • There’s also no “home” screen in the traditional sense. If no apps are running, you start with a grid of apps. Open an app, slide up to minimize it and it dynamically becomes a widget on a new main screen. Eight of these are supported at one time; plenty for me and easy to switch through. I can navigate through my open apps and tasks quite fast. Here’s a look:
    BB10 home
  • Love the “peek” gesture which shows the number of messages; to see this, you slide up the screen from the bottom during any activity.
  • While the BlackBerry Hub function is smart — this consolidates mail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, BBM — it is slow to start up when powering on the device and it can be lacking. You can reply to a Tweet, for example, but I don’t see a way to retweet; for that I seem to have to go into the Twitter client. It’s also a pain to delete all of the tweets and Facebook updates from the Hub to remove clutter. Here’s an example with tweets, Facebook status updates and read email:
    BlackBerry Hub
  • The software keyboard is outstanding. So much so, that on a recent podcast, I said it may be the best for any platform. Even though I generally use two thumbs for on-screen keyboards, I’m cranking out text with one hand due to the word prediction over the next letter of each typed word.
  • Email is generally good, but you can’t move from message to message; every email action takes you back to the inbox. Ugh.
  • The web browser is solid and fast. Adobe Flash is supported for those that care, but turned off by default. Search suggestions are good. Zooming and scrolling is fluid; page loads appear fast. I like the Reader function; same as in iOS.
  • Sharing information is similar to Android, meaning: great! Sharing a web page, for example, brings up options for BBM, mail, Facebook, Twitter, Bluetooth, NFC, etc…
  • The lack of apps that I use on other devices is concerning. BlackBerry has commitments for Skype, Amazon Kindle and others, but they’re not there. Nor is Netflix, any recognizable top-tier games, or my offline reading platforms. Google Talk is there, but no Google Voice; a must for me on any phone. YouTube is the HTML 5 mobile site wrapped up.

I have plenty more to test; as I said, the full review will be coming soon. For now, my gut still says what it said before I even used the phone and platform: Existing BlackBerry users will be happy, but at this point in time, I don’t see many people switching to BB 10. That may change over time as more apps arrive and the platform matures.

  1. nice to note another platform coming up to competition.
    too much duopoly by android and apple.

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  2. this is great set of of Black berry i wish buy this set

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  3. Great initial review.

    Questions:

    Have you been able to test or use the Blackberry Bridge feature yet with a Playbook?

    Have you been able to test or use the Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) feature that not only displays content via HDMI but also charges the smart phone. Samsung on Android and Nokia on Windows are sure to have in the near term.

    As to the battery .. at least you can carry around a spare battery like most power Blackberry people been doing years.

    Keep up the good work on Gigaom Kevin!

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  4. Kevin, I read a response from Netflix to someone on Crackberry this morning. They are working on a BB10 app and the pr person said (for what it’s worth) that they are impressed with the level of interest in getting an app for the platform and have engineers working on it.

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  5. I think the Z10 and Q10 will make it in the marketplace.

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  6. Tigran Karazyanov Friday, February 1, 2013

    BlackBerry Z10 review youtube video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpkTl7GJN90

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  7. Even with all the top tier apps in BB, I wonder what would turn them to be successful. My gut feeling was and still is that their way of differentiating is through the business users. Its all about apps and content. Google is best with personal data and services, and Apple is #1 with content and media. BB could have focused on a platform and apps that are top notch for the business users. So many of them/us require to work as well as manage our personal life on the smartphone. And there is a ton of innovation that is still waiting to be implemented in that regards. With security, partition, context, business app-store support, etc. And business apps too. If BB grabbed back (!) from Apple the business tier, it would have been the best start for them. But competing on our hearts, with a baby app store, and baby platform, it ludicrous.

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  8. I would also add this … in retrospect probably in a year or two, I can see the media spending a long of cycles investigating the board of directors of RIM and Nokia.
    Here were billion dollar businesses which failed to react to the market. That is nothing new. It happens. Companies spend a lot of effort not to be in that situation but its the natural order of life. Its very hard to keep at the top. But … the responsibility then is on the board of directors. In my opinion they allowed both companies to keep wasting billions on dreams. The business plan for both was not sound. And what any VC will require a startup – e.g. showing differentiation, market share and realistic projections – were left behind for delusional ego maybe. These billions of $ belong to people. And I think that the board of directors could have made better profit by selling early on or planning a different route (e.g. like the one I suggest above), which is much less megalomaniac.

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    1. I am amazed at the arrogance of people who criticize top professional who have all the information by those who don’t have even half the experience or knowledge……sorry man but you are making yourself look ignorant.

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  9. Not a helpful review at all. Quit trying to say you are skeptic, and say it. As for people you can’t decide for them. The device is hottest thing yet. You clearly not a fan.

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    1. I think you missed the part(s) where I said this wasn’t a review. ;) Also, I think any scepticism, real or percieved, is warranted given BlackBerry’s challenges over the past few year, no?

      Curious what makes this device the “hottest thing yet” for you.

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  10. “…Nor is Netflix, any recognizable top-tier games,..”

    There are a lot of top-tier games.

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    1. Help me out Susan, because I’m not seeing them. Maybe it’s me. Angry Birds Star Wars is the only title from Rovio. But when I search for Gameloft or Electronic Arts, I come up empty. After that, I gave up; perhaps too soon? Thanks!

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      1. I went through the market specifically looking for games, so I could do this roundup. EA, Gameloft and others have *announced* a lot of games, but they aren’t in the market *now.* Bard’s Tale is pretty big. Great Little/Great Big War Game are reviewed well on other platforms. All the Angry Birds are there, and World of Goo. But the game announcement press releases (and the announcements at the launch event) look to be much more “promises for the future” than “things you can download today.”

        http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/307706/the-10-best-blackberry-10-games

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        1. Thanks, Sascha. I’ll dig deeper but your post gives me a good second step after my initial pass. I got the same impression from the BB10 event: lots of commitments from big dev shops but few available now.

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