BlackBerry Z10 Snapshot Review

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| February 11, 2013

It's time for a PhoneDog Snapshot Review, where we take our typical two-part review and condense it down into a tiny little video that's loaded with information!  Today, the BlackBerry Z10.

Is this new model better than the last?

The BlackBerry Z10 is a substantial improvement over previous BlackBerry smartphones.  Packing the all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system, Z10 brings a ground-up overhaul of everything you once knew about BlackBerry.  The hardware is better, the software is better, and the multi-carrier availability (once it lands in the States) will be quite nice.

What changes were made?

It's almost easier to ask "what changes weren't made?"  This is a ground-up overhaul for BlackBerry, and they're hedging the entire company on the success of this new platform.  Among some improvements:

  • The Z10's hardware is a giant step forward.  It packs a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, 4.2-inch HD display, 2 GB of RAM, a 1,800 mAh battery, and 4G LTE connectivity (in most markets).  The hardware itself is well-designed, and still retains a corporate look and feel for those legacy BlackBerry users.
  • The camera is improved and offers new features like TimeShift, which allows you to take multiple pictures and choose the best face(s) - all without modifying the existing picture.  
  • The on-screen keyboard is a huge improvement from the Storm days, with fantastic prediction software.
  • BlackBerry 10 exudes a far more modern feel, though the exact gestures will take some time to get used to.  The personalization isn't quite to par with other OSes on the market, and the file system needs some work.
  • It's new!  For those fatigued with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, this could be a device to turn to.

How's the hardware?

The BlackBerry Z10 is a beautifully designed piece of hardware.  Featuring a 4.2-inch HD display, Z10 is packaged in a body that looks very similar to the iPhone 5.  You'll find HDMI and microUSB ports on the left spine, and a volume rocker on the right spine.

How's the software experience?

BlackBerry 10 is a marked improvement over BlackBerry 7, the company's antiquated former operating system.  It brings the company once known as RIM into the spotlight with new gestures, apps, and more.  The BlackBerry Hub is the new place to get all of your information - BBM, email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, text messages, and more.  I like the organizational flow of the OS, but find that the gestures are hard to learn and often fail.  The software also has quirks.  In the time I've been working with it, I've experienced more than a few random errors, force closes, and freezes.

What's great about the BlackBerry Z10?

The hardware is very solid, and revisits the age-old "can smaller smartphones exist in today's market?" question.  It's easy to hold in the hand and packs some fantastic specifications, proving that huge size and incredible performance don't have to go hand-in-hand (ahem, Android).

What should be changed?

The all-gesture approach of BlackBerry 10 is solid, but the learning curve is immense, which I expect will turn off those used to Android and iOS.  In addition, the young app store is better than ever before, but both it and the overall ecosystem still pale in comparison to others.  Battery life is also an issue.  As the former battery champ of the smartphone space, overall usage time could be much higher.

What's the real verdict?

The BlackBerry Z10 is a substantial leap forward for BlackBerry.  It brings the company into the 21st century with a modern smartphone with a dual-core processor, HD display, LTE connectivity, and an improved camera.  The software is much improved, and unlike the BlackBerry Storm series, it's a solid smartphone with a few really nice features.  The problem?  It's too little too late.  There aren't enough BlackBerry 10 choices for consumers to choose from, the Z10 is launching too late in the United States, and the app selection is still behind.  Given the price point, it's hard to see anyone choosing this over the Android and iOS options out there - right now.

Stay tuned for the full review, and let me know what you'd like to see covered in the comments below!

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