Blackberry Z10: Good for an upgrade, but is it good for a switch?

Three impressive features that the phone scores for are: it has world clock timings, a timer feature for all the budding Masterchefs, it’s got good sound for all you music lovers

By Nilofer D'Souza
Published: 13, Mar 2013

I was a Features writer at Forbes India, where I wrote primarily on healthcare and explore retail as a sector. The technologies that make both these industries tick interests me greatly. For story ideas or feedback you can reach me on Twitter @Niloferd

If you belong to the growing tribe of phablet lovers, you will find the screen size of BB Z10 a tad too small. But, compared to iPhone 4 and even iPhone 5, the screen size is larger. The resolution is good on eyes, and I could read long documents without any strain. It's light in weight and comes with a better grip. I didn't have to constantly worry about letting the device slip through my hands.



The Keyboard

The traditional BlackBerry users have always loved their keyboards, and talk about it with a "mere-pas-maa-hai" pride. I can't say if the virtual keyboard that comes with Z10 is as good as the physical keyboard, but it's the best I have come across in any smartphone so far. It's easy to type even when you don't use the predictive text feature. And the predictive text - far superior both in suggestions and in placement of the suggestions - made typing a lot faster than I could on my iPhone, or even with SwiftKey app on Android device.



Back to figuring out the basics

by Nilofer D Souza

In the last 11 years, I have changed nine phones. None of them have been a Blackberry. So, using the Z10 was my first 'Blackberry' experience, and I must confess the look and weight of the phone got me hooked.

It’s lighter when you compare it to the Nexus S or iPhone 4, and the screen is slightly bigger. The phone scores highly in my book because of its look. So, the first impression was definitely ‘wow, that’s a good looking phone’. This was validated through the weekend, as most people could recognize I changed my handset, and were curious to know what was the new toy I was playing with.

However, that ‘wow’ first impression stopped there. Before I shifted to my first smartphone, the Nexus S, I was using Nokia’s E71. This was in 2009, and by 2011, I was on the look out for a change. Egged on by my colleague who’s wired on technology, I pushed myself to get a Smartphone. The choice was between the Blackberry 8520, which had reduced its prices, or to get the Nexus S.

I switched to the Nexus S, and I was surprised that I took to the phone so well. Its navigation, user-friendly buttons like the back button, home button, search button, just keep the essentials at your finger tips. I truly believe it puts ‘smart’ in the Smartphone.

So, it was with this background I came to use the Z10, and honestly, while I love the look and feel of the phone, its navigation and menu option drove me a little nuts for the first two days. There’s no ‘back button’ so you need to figure out how you go back. Then you realize you need to swipe upwards, but that doesn’t really help because it shows you where you are, and then you’re left wondering ‘how do I get to a main menu?’

On my Nexus S, I have a main menu, with just the key apps I use on a daily basis like Music, Outlook, Contact, Clock, Messages, Gmail, etc. On the Z10, I’m constantly going everywhere to get to where I want to be. Even if you are upgrading from a traditional Blackberry, expect to waste some time before you figure out what's where.

While Z10 comes with a browser and preloaded apps like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, it was missing a key app called Gmail. While Gmail and several others are available for traditional Blackberry, they are not available yet for this device. It's not clear how long one has to wait.

Another feature that was a let down was the text messages. As a journalist, I’m using my phone constantly, and reaching out to people whose numbers I don’t save sometimes. Texting an unknown number becomes cumbersome. I need to key in the number, and then click a button called submit before the cursor moves to the text area; a waste of valuable time.

On the call side, if you are calling an unknown number, the phone does not give you a menu option for that number. For example, in the Nexus S, I can click on the number, and have two options: to call or to text. In the Z10, there’s no such option, and I end up calling that number again. Another waste of time.

Three impressive features that the phone scores for are: it has world clock timings, a feature I miss on my Nexus S; it has a timer feature for all the budding Masterchefs; it’s got good sound for all you music lovers. I need music when I get up, and when I go to sleep. Blackberry gets a love mark from me for its sound quality. It is better than the Nexus S.


Blackberry Hub

The Hub lets you manage all your communication - email, messaging, SMS, social media - in one place. And I could reach the hub from anywhere on the device with a couple of swipes (even though getting used its gesture based navigation took some time). Messaging has always been the core of Blackberry, and business users found it pretty convenient. Hub expands its scope while keeping it efficient. Since BB's notifications are more persistent and loud than in other devices, you might want to turn off social media notifications after a few days.




My biggest disappointment was around apps. It would of course be unfair to compare BlackBerry World, its appstore with iPhone's. But I thought it would be stocked with some of the apps that you can expect a business user to go for - say Reuters or Bloomberg news. They were missing. (Some of them are available in the app store, but not available for this device.) That's not to say it scores a zero. It comes with productivity apps like word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, Dropbox. Its store has a few more - such as Cisco Webex. Still, early adopters will not appreciate the wait.



For a long time, I didn't think of camera as a business app. But I have learnt lessons from more than a few globe trotting executives that in their estimates it's among the top 5. They won't be disappointed with BB Z10: 8 megapixel for photos and 1080mp for videos, besides a forward facing camera that can shoot at 720mp. I especially liked the time shift mode. It automatically takes a burst of shots, and lets you chose the one you want to keep. Your colleague will never accuse you of missing the moment by a fraction of a second.


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  • rk

    unfortunately, your review was mostly relegated to comparing Z10 with your Nexus phone.. i wasnt looking for that...

    on Mar 14, 2013
  • kabir

    Blackberry , at one point was the phone of choice for business users. However, I feel that the distinction between a business phone and a non-business phone( if you wish to call it that ) has been thinning. The smartphone ( that would probably only be the type of phone that may remain in sometime and we may again go back to calling it a phone ) is now the new desktop. The smartphone platform that manages to get more applications on it and have more people extend it by writing applications, will probably be the winner in the long run and black berry still has way to catch up. They need to proactively create and encourage an ecosystem among students and developers to make new applications and port old ones from other smartphone systems to Black berry. All the best BB. -kabir @kabirkhanna

    on Mar 14, 2013
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