This review is based on an early seeding unit that was given to select media outlets. Subsequent to the device’s release in the Indian market, the phone has received an OS update that resolves some of the issues highlighted in this review. And by making available MapmyIndia’s map suite for free, Blackberry has addressed the lack of a native maps application with India maps, too. The current update made available to Indian users is OS v10.0.10.82, while internationally the update available is v10.0.10.85.
Some of us have been in a long term relationship with BlackBerry, which began at a time when e-mail became more critical than ever for work, but that love affair has almost tripped over the seven year itch. While most of us might have preferred the BlackBerry for its e-mail prowess and well-designed physical keyboard, in the past few years, quite a large number has been wavering towards Android because of the apps and the possibility of a screen that enables better web browsing.
So here it is, our experience with the Z10. For the past week and more, we’ve used it as our primary smartphone and here’s the story—the smiles and frowns, the good and the bad. We’ve written this article keeping in mind that in this team, we constitute those with primary BB usage and those with plenty of exposure to the other operating systems.
The size, weight and tactile feel of the BlackBerry Z10 is a win for BlackBerry’s designers and in an era where every smartphone vendor seems to be going towards bigger and bigger screens in an attempt to provide differentiation, the Z10 is perfect for single-handed use. But if you do notice a similarity to the iPhone 5, you wouldn’t be wrong. Those who’ve seen and used the BlackBerry PlayBook would know where the design cues really come from – the well-rounded edges, the rubberised back (with a dimpled pattern on the Z10, which makes it a delight to hold) and the brushed metal buttons. The only difference is that on the PlayBook, the edges were slightly raised, but here it’s one smooth screen.
Minimalistic design works great here
From a practical Indian perspective, especially in our crowded public transport systems, single-handed use is such a convenience.
So far, none of us testing the device managed to let it slip from our fingers, which is quite a testament to the grip and overall design form. The pimpled and slightly rubberised rear panel surface will ensure that it stays firmly in your grasp and also keep it from sliding off quite a few slippery surfaces. The glass is tough, too. While the specs don’t mention it being Gorilla Glass, we used it without a scratch guard and found no evidence of scars to date. Smudges are an entirely different matter, though, but microfibre cloth, easily available in most places, will do the trick.
With dimensions of 130 x 65.6 x 9 mm and weighing in at a comfortable 135 g, the Z10 fits well into pockets – even the tight ones. The holster, of course, will make it a lot more comfortable.
There is a microUSB charging port and a micro HDMI-out port on the left, volume and media buttons on the right and a power button at the top of the Z10 with a 3.5 mm headphone jack giving it company. The buttons are brushed metal just like the thin speaker grille at the top of the screen and just under the top bezel. There’s almost zero play with the buttons, strengthening our resolve about the fine construction gone into this handset. Interestingly, gone is the dedicated BBM button that BlackBerry was touting only recently. Having said that, minimalism is the design theme here and it’s important to note that with the Z10, BlackBerry has gone from having the most buttons on a smartphone to the least. It’s all in the gestures now.
Volume keys double up as a camera shutter release
There’s an 8MP HD shooter with an LED at the back along with a 2MP HD camera up front. An LED indicator is at the top of the front display and is a welcome addition to notifications and a familiar BlackBerry touch. Unfortunately, there’s no setting or app yet that will allow you to customise the colour of the notification LED for specific apps.
The rear panel makes for excellent grip
The display on the Z10 is very impressive. An IPS LCD panel ensures brilliant experience with incredible sharpness on the 4.2-inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 768. At 356 ppi, it beats the iPhone 5’s Retina Display and Nokia’s latest flagship, the Lumia 920. The rear panel is removable, which is very welcome in this age of unibody devices. And it’s easy to remove thanks to access from a bottom port. The NFC antenna is on the backside of the rear panel and once the door is removed, you’ll find an 1800 mAh battery and a microSIM slot with a hot swappable 64GB supported microSD card slot. This means that with the 16GB of on-board memory coupled with a 64GB memory card, you’re looking at 80GB of available storage.
Updated 21 May, 2013, 3:43 pm IST
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