Blog Post

Two days with the BlackBerry Z10: Some likes, some dislikes

It hasn’t quite been 48 hours since I left Wednesday’s BlackBerry 10 event with the new Z10(s rimm) 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(s aapl) 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(s fb), 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(s adbe) 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(s goog), 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(s nflx), 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.

21 Responses to “Two days with the BlackBerry Z10: Some likes, some dislikes”

  1. you want to delete your tweets or facebook, go to your hub select facebook , twitter or any
    hold your finger on the date and hit the waste basket to delete or delete one by one

  2. when will be the full review be posted?? waiting in anticipation….also any clue as to when blackberry will release an update of the new OS to fix the minor issues and rough edges…i hear that an update to the new OS is doing the rounds on the web?

  3. Worth Haggling.
    Both my sister and I were due for upgrades on our phones. I had a look online, then in EE, O2 and Carphone Warehouse. Having compared the Z10 instore with SIII, I got my Z10 with Orange for £30 on a £27.90 per month tariff with unlimited mins+texts+500mb data. Expect my phone in a couple of days.
    Admittedly, aps aren’t as largely available on Z10. However, I believe you can still sideload all major ones. As I have Kindle (sideloaded) on my playbook without issue, I have everything I really want.
    Also SIII camera definitely better than z10 so if you want to make this a consideration, do so. This was a major plus point for my sister who switched to Samsung but then she has a Samsung tablet, (her deal with Orange, £50 for the phone, £26per month for unlimited mins+texts+500mb data, which works out £25 cheaper than my deal but my phone only came out on Thursday).
    Neither my sister or I considered an iphone because of the cost, memory limitations and the phaff of using itunes anytime we want to transfer anything to our phones.
    A major point about z10 is that if you have a playbook than you can connect to the internet wherever you are on your tablet via your phone. As such, neither Samsung, or apple offer this. I have a wifi only 64gb playbook which was bought for £230 (30th b’day present). If you combine all these costs over a 2 year period that comes to about £930, roughly £38.75 a month. I doubt Samsung or Apple can even come close to doing this at present.

  4. its about time something new entered the market. 500,000 + apps on my i-phone and i pretty much only use 8 – so the app thing isnt a huge deal breaker for me personally.

    if this phone can function faster and smarter – i’m in come July when my contract is up.

  5. I just don’t see BB winning a sizable user base at least in the US market. Had they put this phone out 2-3 years ago, I could have seen it gain traction but it’s too little too late. They might have a change in international markets though.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. hundoman

    Great initial review.


    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!