BlackBerry Z10 refreshing - review

2013-03-11 13:21
The BlackBerry Z10 offers a smartphone ecosystem alternative. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The BlackBerry Z10 offers a smartphone ecosystem alternative. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The BlackBerry Z10 is unlike any previous device from the Canadian-based company that once dominated the smartphone market.

The BlackBerry Z10 follows the big phone trend with a 10.6cm display, as well as a micro-SIM trend favoured by manufactures.

The main camera is 8 megapixel and the secondary camera is also high definition at 2 megapixel. But that doesn't tell the whole story of how much better images taken with the device look.

Low light pictures are easier to capture and BlackBerry has included some neat tricks to improve the way you take pictures.

The Time Shift feature allows you to manage photography where the subject might have closed eyes. The phone allows the user to scroll through multiple images and choose the best one.

New ecosystem


The hardware of the Z10 is by far the best offered by BlackBerry: It's powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz Krait processor mated to 2GB RAM with 16GB onboard storage.

There's also a micro-SD card slot accessed by taking off the rear cover. Yes, the battery and internals can be directly accessed, and it doesn't result in a lower build quality, because of the multiple clips that hold the cover in place.

But the BlackBerry Z10 is more than a collection of hardware statistics: The device represents a new ecosystem and software experience.

The first innovation BlackBerry has touted is the Hub which aggregates all information from e-mail, calls, social networks and calendars so that it gives the user an overall view of the contact landscape.

You can respond to events from the Hub without having to go into individual apps, and the peek feature allows one to briefly pause other activity such as browsing the web to interact with social networks and continue working.

The gallery has been refreshed with Story Maker which allows users to create multimedia content easily - and share to YouTube or via NFC.

Time Shift mode on the camera helps you to resolve those poor pictures where kids momentarily look away when you take the shot.

Natural gestures

For busy people, the remember application helps to organise everything from shopping lists to web pages for later reading. In addition, functionality is aided with voice control.

One hardly ever presses a button on the Z10 as most functions are accessed with a swipe and the gesture is so natural that you would be forgiven for inadvertently swiping up to unlock on other smartphones after using the BlackBerry.

The browser is fast and scores 485 out of a possible 500 points on HTML5test.com versus 386 for the iPhone 5, and 427 for the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

So is the Z10 the top of the smartphone pile? It's the best BlackBerry by far, despite the death of BlackBerry Internet Service, but the mobile industry doesn't allow a single manufacturer an uninterrupted rule.

There are several mobile launches that will impact on SA in the short term: Samsung is poised to launch the latest version of its Galaxy S, Sony will launch the anticipated Xperia Z, and HTC is considering the One with a 12cm display for the local market.

The Z10 doesn't allow pausing during a video recording as the BlackBerry Torch and you also can't capture still images while shooting video.

Challenge

There is also no quick shortcut to switch mobile data on and off, particularly if one intends to use data-heavy applications such the BBM video chat and remote screen share.

But the biggest challenge for BlackBerry may be the application ecosystem: Despite the company working to build developer prior to the launch, and having 70 000 apps by launch date, there are still some apps that are poorly built.

These hurt the brand and users should be careful about installing applications that do not seem to deliver the functionality promised on any platform.

Native applications like the BlackBerry Link are great for synching content between the device and computer, but the device can also be used as a flash drive.

Overall, the impression that the BlackBerry Z10 creates is a refreshing device where a lot of thought has gone into how people use their smartphones.

The BlackBerry Z10 sells for R399 per month on a Smart S contract from Vodacom, or on an MTN Anytime 200 contract, and R389 on a Cell C Straight Up 100 deal.



- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    blackberry  |  mobile

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