Unbox finally reviews the highly anticipated BlackBerry Z10
Unbox finally reviews the highly anticipated BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Z10: Best BlackBerry Ever Made

We’ll jump the gun and say that the BlackBerry Z10 is the best BlackBerry ever made. It is lightyears ahead of it’s most recent batch of predecessors, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9790. Thorsten Heins wasn’t kidding when he said that they re-engineered the BlackBerry experience both from the software and hardware aspects. The real question though is if the BlackBerry Z10 is compelling enough to grab significant market share from people who use iOS, Android, and Windows smartphones. Read on to find out what we think!

BlackBerry Z10 Spec Sheet

  • 1.5GHz Krait CPU Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon Chip Set
  • Adreno 225 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB Internal Storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
  • 4.2-inches capacitive touchscreen 1280×768 resolution (~355ppi)
  • 8.0-megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash, and BlackBerry 10 Camera software
  • Can record video 1080p@30fps with video stabilization
  • 2.0-megapixel front-facing camera
  • WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS with AGPS Support
  • 3G, HSPA+, LTE
  • 1800mAh Battery
  • BlackBerry OS 10

Hardware is sleek, modern, professional

The BlackBerry Z10 is a thin, light, and solid block of polycarbonate, glass, metal, plastic, and rubber. Both variants (black and white) look amazing especially if you remember what BlackBerry devices looked like before this one (hehe). At the front you’ll find the glass display with the BlackBerry logo at the bottom. There are no physical on the screen itself as the device is mostly gesture-based (we’ll tackle this later). At the back you have a removable rubberized cover which not only gives it a more premium feel (at least it’s not plastic), but it also helps with over-all grip. As for the buttons and ports, you’ll find them on the sides.

If you want a good reference for the form factor, it’s marginally taller, wider, and heavier than the iPhone 5.

Here are a few photos in different POVs for your reference:

Finally BlackBerry nails it on the head!
Finally BlackBerry nails it on the head!
Rubberized back with emblazoned BB emblem!
Rubberized back with emblazoned BB emblem!
Display also ain't bad.
Display also ain’t bad.

BlackBerry also didn’t scrimp with the display quality. The 4.2-inch screen has a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, which comes out to around 356 pixels per inch. That’s actually higher than the pixel density of the iPhone Retina Display… but you’ll barely be able to tell the difference, hehe. What’s important is that the images, videos, and text all look crisp and detailed, almost as if they were jumping out of the screen.

All things considered for the hardware, we’re happy with the BlackBerry Z10. It’s a massive step forward for the Canadian-based tech company and we hope that they maintain the design aesthetics that they started with the BlackBerry Playbook and they continued with the BlackBerry Z10.

Software: BlackBerry 10 is cool… but there is a learning curve

Swipe left... swipe up... swipe down... how do I go back again? Lol.
Swipe left… swipe up… swipe down… how do I go back again? Lol.

We’ll be honest here… the user interface of the BlackBerry Z10 was initially confusing. That’s mainly because we’ve been hardwired in the last few years to rely on “home” buttons by iOS and Android. Day 1 with the Z10 and we were fumbling all over and it really took time to get used to it. Everything though became much clearer when we decided to go online and watch some tutorial videos, lol. That said we highly recommend that you guys watch some as well and take time to get familiar with the basic gestures so that you don’t end up getting frustrated. The good news is that once you get used to it, the BlackBerry Z10 is a joy to navigate!

Speaking of navigation, the BlackBerry 10 experience is actually quite smooth and almost lag-free. This is mainly due to the optimization of the BlackBerry 10 OS as well as the dual-core Snapdragon processor, Adreno 225 GPU, and the generous serving of 2GB RAM. This set-up also powers a lot of the funky features of BlackBerry 10. Let’s quickly go over some of them.

BlackBerry Hub

BlackBerry Hub! One of our favorite features.
BlackBerry Hub! One of our favorite features.

The BlackBerry Hub is one of our favorite features. With a simple gesture you can quickly bring up some sort of advanced notifications center which shows you your messages and alerts across your different social networking accounts and e-mail. You can also reply from within the Hub as well. I kinda missed this when I gave the BBZ10 back and went back to my Android, hehe.

Keyboard is the bestest ever!

The bestest keyboard ever.
The bestest keyboard ever.

I never thought that I would be able to find an on-screen keyboard application that can challenge SwiftKey but the predictive keyboard of BlackBerry 10 can definitely give them a run for their money! Not only is it really accurate but the flicking of words up to the message body not only is novel but also effective. Again this is something I sorely missed after giving up the BlackBerry Z10.

Remember Me and Stories

Cool... but not really super useful
Cool… but not really super useful

The other two features that were fun but not really useful were Remember Me and Story Maker. Remember Me basically lets you store stuff in a folder for you to remember (in lists) while Story Maker automatically creates videos for you using selected photos and recorded video clips. Remember Me probably has sturdier legs for productivity but you’ll have to learn it and force it into your daily workflow.

BlackBerry 10 is truly an advanced operating system, especially if we consider the fact that this is its’ first iteration.

Apps check…

Now we can’t talk about software without talking about the app ecosystem. BlackBerry has BlackBerry World and they boasted during the launch that they have over 70,000 applications on their store. We perused it and we found a lot of familiar names from gaming to social networking to productivity. However there were some regulars that were not on it like Instagram, Temple Run, Camera+, and several others. Over-all though we’re pretty impressed with how much apps BlackBerry was able to gather prior to launch. Again they deserve credit for this.

Walang kamatayang Angry Birds
Walang kamatayang Angry Birds

LTE!!!!

Currently only supports Globe's LTE band
Currently only supports Globe’s LTE band

It’s also good to note that the BlackBerry Z10 supports LTE. Unfortunately it’s only compatible with Globe’s network. Hopefully the Q10 will be able to connect to the LTE network of Smart in the future.

Camera

Okay, now we get to the camera! We’ve gotten a lot of questions on our Facebook Page asking if the camera of the Z10 is comparable to the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3. In good lighting they’re all pretty much the same (minimal difference). In low light though the Z10’s camera struggles especially when you compare it to the iPhone 5 or much more the Lumia 920.

Here are a few sample shots:

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Not bad eh? By the way, the BlackBerry Z10 camera has a fun feature which takes multiple shots before and after you press the shutter. This lets you pick the better photo.

Battery Life

Now this part is a bit of a downer. We used the Z10 as our primary workhorse device and it could barely last more than 5-6 hours of moderate-heavy usage. We weren’t even on LTE. I heard that there’s a software update coming that should fix this but we were really taken aback with the battery life. This is our only major criticism for this review. Hoping that this gets fixed and the Q10 will offer better longevity.

Verdict: Yes? No? Maybe? Ano ba talaga?

Should you get one?
Should you get one?

The Z10, and maybe even BlackBerry in general, is a polarizing proposition.

Now we get to the most important question… should you get one? The BlackBerry Z10 is arguably the best BlackBerry experience available right now in the market. It offers a different flavor to what people have gotten used to with Android and iOS. That difference, we think, is worth the look. While we can’t say for sure that the Z10 is 100% for you, we will go as far as saying that we highly recommend you guys test it out when you get the chance so you can see for yourselves if it appeals to you. The Z10, and maybe even BlackBerry in general, is a polarizing proposition. Some people will love it while some will hate it no matter how good the actual product is.

If you’re interested in the Z10, you can contact Smart, Globe, or Sun. They have postpaid plans. It’s usually free (zero cash out) at Plan 1800-2000. If you don’t want to get from a telco you can also buy it from BlackBerry resellers and distributors for around Php26,xxx.

To end this post let me just share our Unbox Video Podcast which featured the BlackBerry Z10. You might want to check it out so you get a better feel for the product. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing just skip to 23:10 where the segment on the Z10 begins.