This post was written by Howie Chan, Business Analyst at TechAlliance
Late last month, with the launch of the touchscreen Z10, BlackBerry mounted its last stand against giants like Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market. And with the Q10, a keyboard version, launching in April, will BlackBerry be relevant to today’s increasingly demanding user?
I picked up a Z10 and have had about a week to play around with most of its functions and features. I’ve had several people ask me about what I think about the phone and I’ve decided to bundle up my review into a few quick bullet points.
- The Hub – here’s where you can organize your emails, BBM, text messages, LinkedIn, and Facebook notifications. I like the ability to switch-off receiving notifications for any of these sources with a flick of a switch (in the hub settings) and the ability to peak into the hub while in another app. One caveat is that when you do peak in, you can only see the last tab you were at in the hub (it doesn’t default to the main hub page).
- The keyboard – the intuitive suggestions and auto-correct have made transitioning from my curve simple and stress-free (yes, I held onto my curve as long as I could). One thing I haven’t figured out however is how to disable or move the suggested word from my space button (sometimes I just like going with the short form) and I’m hoping over time BB10 will learn my slang.
- Snappy response – the phone is quick to transition between native apps and, if all else fails, you can still pull the battery out – win. I’ve noticed that some of the apps have a tendency to freeze up, but you can easily swipe out of the app and close it with the application dashboard.
- A lack of apps – Quite a few apps have yet to be ported over to BB10 from iOS and Android – but this was to be expected. What annoys me the most is that even some older apps from BB OS v7 don’t work on BB10. I’ve also had trouble syncing Google calendars to my phone, and although the solution is well documented on forums, current work-arounds don’t let you sync multiple calendars from one Google account – lame.
- Few accessories – the BlackBerry accessory store isn’t available yet. Apparently it’s been undergoing a revamp for quite some time now (since November 2012). Where’s my NFC charging doc?
- Battery life – I get just over a day’s work out of the Z10. To give you a brief overview of how I use the phone: Wi-Fi is on when available, and I answer emails and browse the internet pretty often. There are many documented issues with the battery including connection problems with the charging cord that I’ve come across very inconsistently.
- Voice Control – One of the first things I tried out of the box was BlackBerry’s “Voice Control”, a less-humanoid competitor to Apple’s Siri. It’s a smart thing BlackBerry didn’t use Voice Control as a key selling point on their launch day – the app is terrible.
I realize that my habits and views might not be relevant to the entire market place but I do think the Z10 and BB10 are solid, and I love my phone. However, with most users already expecting most of the functions and features delivered (seamlessly) by the device and OS, BlackBerry hasn’t really set itself apart from its competitors. Again, we see a company playing it safe rather than a company that is innovative and bleeding-edge.
I’ve heard from many people that they’re waiting out for the keyboard version and others that were unimpressed and picked up the iPhone5 or Nexus 4 – two amazing phones. And with a delayed USA launch of the Z10 until March, the Mobile World Congress at the end of the month (February 25th-28th), and with new phones like the S4 earmarked for a March 2013 debut, I think BlackBerry needs to drastically ramp up its BB10, Z10 and Q10 rollout.
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