User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with the hardware we have a handset which feels reasonably good quality though we really do feel that Gorilla Glass 2 is a must have on high end devices nowadays. While the main body feels fine and all parts fit together well we also feel that the back panel is very similar to the flimsy part used on the Galaxy S2 which adds to an overall impression that this device has been in development for some time without following the market… handsets such as the Lumia 920, iPhone 5 and even HTX One X have a much fresher and higher quality feel to them.
As far as the internals go, newer handsets such as the Galaxy S3 have specifications which exceed the Z10 however the Blackberry model is very similar in spec to the Lumia 920, even surpassing it in memory available and the ability to increase storage. Both the Nokia and Blackberry also run on 1280×768 resolution, feature NFC and dual band Wi-Fi-n as well as offering 4G/LTE compatibility too.
Looking at the OS the experience is certainly much more modern and slick than the older iterations and for the most part it is intuitive with a big part of this being down to functionality being "inspired" by other OS’s. The ability to have key applications running in the background and viewable on the home screen enhances productivity and Blackberry Hub will be key to those who communicate while on the move. In app selection Blackberry have some way to go in matching Android and iOS however all of the key items are present (as they are on Windows Phone) but the Blackberry World store could do with a few tweaks to help users find new items… for example there is no quick and easy way to find a list of free games/apps. Trending, yes… paid, yes… but not free without really digging which says something about the manufacturers approach.
While the OS as a whole is reasonably intuitive, like the store the user experience could also do with a little work. Looking at gestures as one example, in some apps the swipe from the bottom to return to the home screen doesn’t rotate with the orientation, in other areas it does. Equally there are settings which should be simple to find, buried away in layers and layers of menu. As one example to delete or reconfigure a Wi-Fi connection we have to wade through a handful of steps to get to the list, then rather than tapping the network we need to hit saved, which brings up another list and then we need to enter the config from there. Why not from the main list? Clearly these are not major issues but they do give the opinion that things are a little rough around the edges here.
In day to day use the dual core CPU in the Z10 is more than powerful enough to run the OS with no noticeable lag and we were able to run the available games without issue. The camera, despite being an 8MP model, isn’t the best though and offers images which, on the current firmware, lack detail with the lens not handing bright sunlight well at all. There is also a lack of configuration options for the image capture but a feature called Time Shift is useful as it allows us to edit images to select areas which need improvement such as people blinking.
Battery life was decent for a high end smartphone. On an average day, which for us involved around three-five 15 minute calls, multiple text messages, 30minutes of gaming and an hour of surfing with Wi-Fi enabled the overall time on was around 26 hours before a charge was required. That charge with the phone on does take longer than on alternative models at over two hours.
Externally the Z10 handset feels solid, at least on the front and sides but it also feels like a model from a year or so ago which probably isn’t surprising given its development process. The Blackberry 10 OS offers an experience which tries to find a middle ground between the standard Android/iOS feel and the radically different Windows Phone 8. In fact this is something which is very much evident in the whole experience, Blackberry clearly felt the need to differentiate themselves from Android/iOS but don’t have the confidence to make the large steps required… something Nokia and Microsoft did with aplomb.
Essentially a solid but unspectacular reinvention with features that will please some business users without alienating the average consumer. Some rough software edges need polish but the performance is solid which is key.
|Blackberry Z10 Smartphone|
|Where to buy…|
|Vodafone.co.uk – £Varies|