BlackBerry Z10 review
An interesting and well-resolved new operating system and fine build quality, but it's up against some seriously stiff competition
Review Date: 6 Mar 2013
Price when reviewed: £520
Reviewed By: Chris Finnamore
BlackBerry has been all over the news recently, and not usually for the right reasons. The once-dominant smartphone manufacturer has seen its stock sink in recent years as it struggled with the competition from Apple and Android.
The company's certainly not going down without a fight, though. After a rebrand from RIM to BlackBerry, two new handsets have appeared running the new BlackBerry 10 OS: the keyboard-equipped BlackBerry Q10 and this, the touchscreen-only Z10.
Initial impressions of the Z10 aren’t brilliant, as it's a fairly uninspiring black rectangle with rounded corners; the Z10 was all too often described as a "poor man's iPhone 5" during our time with the handset.
The non-slip rubber back is a winner
However, it feels like it would survive plenty of abuse. There's no flex at all in the body, and the rubber rear means you're unlikely to drop it. It feels reassuringly heavy, but 136g isn’t out of the ordinary for a modern smartphone.
OUT WITH THE OLD
The new BlackBerry 10 OS is the big selling point for this phone, and it's a huge step forward from previous touchscreen BlackBerrys. You can banish memories of the horrendous BlackBerry Storm, as the Z10 feels like a slick and modern smartphone.
Navigating BlackBerry 10 is all about swiping from left to right. The OS is arranged in a series of panels, for messaging, open apps and your main app tray.
When you make the 'home' gesture, which involves swiping up from the bottom of the display, you go to a screen of currently-open programs, each represented by a thumbnail. When you switch between apps, the previously-used program stays open in a frozen state, which makes it very quick to open it again. This means that once you've been using your phone for a while, you rarely need to go back to the app tray to find and open an app again, as if you've used it before it will still be running.
The homescreen shows your currently-running apps as a series of cards, Palm OS-style
BlackBerry 10 also has a standard app tray containing several screens of icons, which you can rearrange by long-pressing and dragging apps to where you want them.
So far the OS feels like a mix of Android and the defunct Palm OS. However, this is a BlackBerry, so messaging is never far away. Swipe left from the home screen and you'll find the BlackBerry Hub. This is a well-designed interface for all your messaging, from your email accounts through text messaging through voicemail. The accounts are displayed in a list, complete with a number denoting the number of unread messages in each and an asterisk for any new email.
The messaging hub is a great way to keep track of multiple accounts
The asterisk is a particularly neat touch; while many smartphones just show you the number of unread messages, which may include a number you have just chosen to ignore, BlackBerry OS 10 lets you know if your collection of 685 unread messages contains a new one. The BlackBerry Hub also has an aggregated inbox, which brings all your messages into one place, together with any upcoming appointments if you swipe down from the top of the screen.
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