The Z10 has been out for a couple of months now and I have had mine for about one month. I’m not going to make any grandiose pronouncements about it’s ability to drag BlackBerry back from the financial precipice but it is the best device BlackBerry has produced by a significant margin. It is fast, fluid and, after a short trip up the learning curve, user friendly and intuitive. I find that the main selling points of the Z10, Hub, Flow and the SwiftKey designed keyboard functions are very much as claimed and after a months worth of use, already seem like a very natural way to work with a smart phone. All the applications I have loaded on to the Z10 have worked well, whether they be native OS10 apps or ported Android apps. The only slight exception to this being the ported, by Amazon, Kindle app, which is noticeably slower to load than any other app but once loaded, works as smoothly as any other. So far there are only two apps from my OS6 Torch which seem to be absent from BlackBerry World for the Z10, one is pretty trivial, there seems to be no app for the Subway card, the other is more problematical as there does not seem to be an app for my online banking, though I was told, via twitter, that this is being worked on.
I have the following apps installed (in addition to the ones which were pre-loaded).
TheScore BeWeather Kindle Gadget Box
MyVodafone Barcode Scanner CB10 Battery Lover
StopTimer Pixelated Trid Reversi
Nobex AIO Remote Angry Birds Bubble
WordPress Tube Map AccuWeather
All these work well and I have no idea, other than the Kindle app, which are ports and which are native OS10 apps. If anyone is concerned at loading non-native apps, providing there are a fair number of reviews of the software in BlackBerry World, there is usually someone who will have indicated if it is a port.
The Z10 is the best phone I have ever owned, as it should be and I might well say the same if I had bought the iPhone 5 or a high end Android device. I don’t think there is much doubt that BlackBerry were right to launch it when they did and I am very happy with it. But, inevitably, there is room for improvement. Some things needing work would probably be agreed on by just about everyone, others may just be down to me. First and foremost, and an old hobby-horse of mine, battery life. By the time I got my Z10, there was already an update to the OS which was supposed to improve battery performance and I installed it straight away, so I have no idea whether it improved performance or not; it certainly didn’t produce spectacular performance. A little browsing, Twitter, BBM and texts, a few minutes of calls and a fully charged battery at 8 a.m. had 36% left eleven hours later. So, a fair bit of leeway to see you through a day with a little heavier use but you had better not forget to charge it overnight, every night, or you will be taking out a phone with less than 20% charge the next day, which will mean having to turn it off and preserve some battery for the time when you might really need it or be hunting around for charging options. This is not helped by the absence of the auto sleep/wake mode that could be set on the Torch, whereby you could program the device to go into a sleep mode at a certain time each day and wake at a certain time but still have it come to life if you had set an alarm within the sleep period. A nice touch and a big battery saver, absent from the Z10. If you want to try to replicate this, you have to manually shut off, separately, mobile network, Wi-Fi and BlueTooth connections and put it into bedside mode and then unwind it all in the morning. The keyboard is very clever but the sop to the users of physical keyboards, on the likes of the Bold and Curve devices, by having the touchscreen only ever show upper case letters is, let’s be frank, just complete bollocks. The unlock function via the touchscreen keyboard is also poorly thought out. The screen can’t be rotated to landscape to unlock so you have to fiddle about with the small key layout in portrait mode and when you ask for the numeric layout the numeric keys don’t get any bigger, the alpha keys are just replaced by punctuation marks and special characters. There is plenty of real estate available for a full size, as per the phone dial pad layout, 0-9 numeric pad and I can see no reason not to use it? And finally, getting to the really small beer, I’m getting a little fed up looking at a blinking red LED. BBM-red, email-red, text-red, missed call-red. A couple of apps claim to be able to do something about this but need to run in an active frame and reviews seem to suggest that they don’t quite live up to their claims either. Even if the ability to set per contact custom LED alerts, as in something like Advance OS which I used on the Torch, is not likely to be forthcoming, surely having the ability to differentiate between BBM, email etc baked into the OS is not too much to ask?
The only other quibble I have is not with the phone but with the PC software, BlackBerry Link. There is currently minimal control over syncing Outlook contacts, in fact it’s not ‘syncing’ at all but just a straight transfer from Outlook to the Z10 and should you need to do it more than once, say you do something radical such as add a new contact to Outlook and want it on your phone and you do the transfer again, you are likely to be presented with random duplicate entries throughout your contacts list, in one instance I ended up with 6 entries for the same contact.
BlackBerry have stepped up their game to the point where their flagship device can be compared favourably with iOS and Android phones and is, very approximately, about 98% of everything I want or expect from a smart phone (battery issues aside I suppose I should say) but I’m not part of the demographic which will decide the fate of BlackBerry, being neither a business user nor someone who’s buying decision is driven by the availability of hundreds of thousands of applications.