Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hands-on with the BlackBerry Z10

Recently, I had the chance to briefly play with the BlackBerry Z10 at the airport while waiting for my flight back to  New York (NY). The BlackBerry Z10 is the first handset made available that uses the new BlackBerry 10 OS. Let’s see if this latest handset can bring back the BlackBerry brand to the same relevance it once held in the smartphone world.
BlackBerry Z10 01
The first time I held the BlackBerry Z10, it felt like a high quality phone. The heft and size is just right, it felt solid and not fragile. It somehow mixes the classic look with its metallic industrial-looking buttons, and at the same time a modern and elegant touch with its curves and somewhat tapered top and bottom.
BlackBerry Z10 08 BlackBerry Z10 03 BlackBerry Z10 04
The BlackBerry Z10 sports a 4.2-inch glass at the front void of any buttons, not even the familiar dedicated BlackBerry button. The only buttons you’ll see are the Power/Sleep button on top, the volume rocker on the right side surrounding a button to trigger voice control. On the left you’ll find the uncovered microUSB and miniHDMI ports.
BlackBerry Z10 05
The back has that same soft, textured and rubbery finish as that of the BlackBerry PlayBook, with the iconic BlackBerry logo that also acts as the NFC target. This panel is removable by the way to reveal a removable 1800mAh battery, a microSD, and microSIM slot.
BlackBerry Z10 06
As mentioned earlier, the BlackBerry Z10 runs on the new BlackBerry 10 OS which to me looked like a mixture of BlackBerry OS and their QNX platform. It will take a while of getting used to but if you’re familiar on how to use the BlackBerry PlayBook, you’re a step ahead. This OS makes use of all sides of the bezel so you can swipe your way to a lot of the navigation features including BB Peek, a feature which allows you to view messages and notifications from any app without fully moving away from it.
BlackBerry also enhanced their popular BBM by including Video Chat to it, and at the same time removing it from the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) so new users don’t have to be confused with subscribing to BIS instead of a normal data plan. 
BlackBerry Z10 07
One of the key things that makes or breaks a new platform is the amount of useful apps it can offer to the user. Although I haven’t played with much of the apps yet nor browsed the BlackBerry App World for the Z10, I’ve been hearing some issues with popular apps missing key features (no multi-account on Twitter app yet), and that BlackBerry recently brought out an update addressing some nuances found on the first release (importing contacts, BB Hub, Gmail calendar sync, etc.).
BlackBerry Z10 02
I’m not much of a BlackBerry user and playing with the Z10 briefly didn’t make me want to switch to it the least. The phone itself is really nice and in an alternate world where it uses Android or iOS, I can see myself using it as my primary phone. My issue is still with the platform and although it’s not fair to judge it so quickly, it didn’t impress me at all during my time with it. Maybe a deeper hands-on is required so I can fully see all the nifty things it can do to change my mind? Who knows but for now, for me, it’s still a BlackBerry phone update for previous BlackBerry users.
The BlackBerry Z10 is slated for an official local launch in the coming weeks but is already making its round in the grey market to the tune of Php29,000.
BlackBerry Z10 Specs:
4.2-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen, 768 x 1280, 355 ppi
Dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon (Krait)
Adreno 225 GPU
BlackBerry 10 OS
16GB internal storage, microSD up to 32GB
8 MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash
2 MP 720p front camera
HSDPA 21 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps; LTE
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, NFC
Li-Ion 1800 mAh battery
130 x 65.6 x 9 mm

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