BlackBerry Z10 is an efficient communications-focused device

BlackBerry Z10 is an efficient communications-focused device

Summary: BlackBerry has always been focused on communications, and you will find that BlackBerry 10 continues that tradition. The Z10 is an efficient smartphone that will appeal to those who need to get things done.

BlackBerry Z10 is an efficient communications-focused device
(Image: BlackBerry)

After using my BlackBerry Z10 for a few weeks now, my initial excitement for the BlackBerry 10 platform has not worn off — thanks to the BlackBerry Hub, awesome keyboard, application switcher, and attractive hardware.

Everything in BlackBerry 10 is based on Flow, the gesture-based navigation and controls; and after using the Z10 for a few weeks I now find myself swiping all over my other phones. Like the Nokia N9 with MeeGo, I love that I can unlock the Z10 with a simple swipe up from below the display. After the display is on, the fun just continues.

BlackBerry Hub

I find that both Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 are more focused on centralized communications than Android and iOS. In Windows Phone, you can quickly view relevant communications (text messages, status updates, call history) with pinned Live tiles associated with people or groups. BlackBerry 10's Hub lets you quickly view communications and notifications in one central location, and I find myself living in the Hub probably 75 percent of the time I am using the Z10.

While Windows Phone is more centered around people, the BB Hub is focused on accounts — so you can view all of your communications or easily filter by type of communication. I also like that all the communications are actionable from within the Hub. Android now does a better job of this with Jelly Bean notifications, but the notification drawer is not "sticky" enough for efficient communications management.

My only real issue with the BB Hub at the moment is the inability to move to the next message in an account from within a message you are viewing. It requires a swipe back to the Hub first. Granted, it is only an additional tap, but it seems a simple swipe to go to the next message (like we see in Gmail on Android) is a valid gesture.

BlackBerry Keyboard

I can adapt to most phone keyboards and prefer them over QWERTY keyboards. I tried different types on Android, and am satisfied with the ones on iOS and Windows Phone. However, the BlackBerry 10 keyboard — with its slick next letter word prediction — rocks. I love how I can enter text in sentences by only tapping and swiping up a minimum number of times. The more you use BB10, the more the keyboard improves for your vocabulary, and I feel it is the best software keyboard available.

RIM has always excelled at hardware QWERTY keyboards, and now they are showing they can also lead with the software keyboard.

App Switcher

In addition to the gestures, BlackBerry Hub, and keyboard, another aspect of BlackBerry 10 that makes it efficient is the functional task switcher/manager. The task switcher on BB10 is a mashup of Windows Phone Live tiles and Android application switchers. On Android, the task switcher is different for each manufacturer, so the experience isn't always consistent. I like how BB10 supports up to eight applications at once, and provides useful updates in the task switcher view.

Integrated apps and well developed third-party apps will have the active thumbnail in the task switcher changing to support the thumbnail view. Given that the task switcher is where you end up with a "home gesture", it is used quite a bit on BB10.

BlackBerry Z10 hardware

I think the BlackBerry Z10 hardware also lends itself to efficiency and usefulness as a vital communications device. Like the iPhone 5, the BlackBerry Z10 is perfect for one-handed usage. Most high-end Windows Phone and Android smartphones are too large to use with one hand, and people today seem to prefer large displays. I do enjoy using my Galaxy Note II, but have to say that carrying the Z10 in my pocket and using it with one hand is actually pretty refreshing and enjoyable.

The display is just about perfectly sized at 4.2 inches and it looks fantastic, even to my aging 44-year-old eyes. I also like that I can output the display using the standard micro-HDMI port on the side of the Z10, and hope for some kind of landscape cradle accessory.

The battery life is not as good as I had hoped, but it is easy to swap it out for a backup on the go. I do carry external battery packs to charge devices up, but it is much more efficient and desirable to simply swap out a battery for another one. Also, the hardware will last longer since you can easily swap out a battery rather than having to tear apart a device to attempt a battery change.

I also like that the Z10 supports microSD cards up to 64GB in size. I found that putting photos and music on a microSD card and then popping it in the device is faster than transfer via BlackBerry Link.

Summary thoughts

Overall, I think BlackBerry has come out with an efficient and enjoyable communications-focused operating system that will serve BlackBerry fans well. It seems to me that the OS is designed to help you get things done without wasting time messing around with inefficiencies. The hardware is attractive as well, and hits the sweet spot for size and functionality.

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Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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  • Bang on review

    I also have been using a Z 10 since Feb. 05 and I also have enjoyed the new device alot. I don't actaully keep multiple apps open most of the time (it is nice to be able to do while doing more than one thing at a time) but I'm normally not. I do use the hub on a regular basis and I love how the contact list pulls in all recent activity for a person on their social networks for me to view. Apps are added every day and the phone just works perfect. Thanks for the article.
  • Where did you buy it?

    att nor verizon have it online yet, what a blunder not launching in the US first.
    • No kidding!

      Their biggest problem from a marketing perspective was to have such a large gap between the announcement and actual release date in the US. Why couldn't they have performed the required carrier testing earlier to coincide with the launch? Now momentum has been lost.

      They'll have to do some serious advertising blitzing to get the general public re-interested by then.
      • fans first

        Thorsten explained long ago that BlackBerrys return to relavence was going to be on the backs of its biggest fans first.

        The US market is not a stronghold for BBRY.
        So it makes sense to NOT launch their first. The US carriers have shown over the past 2 years that BlackBerry was not a key player in their mobile strategy.

        When there is a chance at supply chain issues. Or lack of production capacity, since they don't want to make another PlayBook blunder by having to many on hand you sell to the markets with the highest demand per distributor ratio.
        Canada had home turf advantage and real carrier support.
        The UK and much of europe have population density advantage and a better incumbant position, india and asia have brand power and popularity.
        US has self entitlement and mature market.
        Build up the device sales globally show developers it is worth making native apps. And have a more app rich US launch.

        Probably one of the smartest things BBRY has done since putting Thorsten as CEO
        • A rare insightful comment.

          EXCELLENT comment!

          In this era of fanboys and haters, it's so refreshing to read a comment written with careful thought and reasoning.

          BBRY finally understood that overextending oneself is a huge mistake.

          Now if they can only be better in the marketing department: 1) Alicia Key blunder and 2) display phones that don't fully work or that are just plain dummy phones -- not a good way to introduce a new UI/OS to consumers. (Then again, maybe they are more focused on the enterprise customers, which would not be a bad idea.)
          Dyson Lu
      • get over yourself

        oh no the US didn't get a product at release? terrible marketing!

        terrible marketing is the way the US handles it's products (copyright on streaming, region codes, and releasing products in the US first)
        Avera Morte
    • Ummmm

      BlackBerry had nothing to do with the late US launch. It was all to do with the carriers.
      • Of course blackberry had something to do with it

        they were in negotiations with the carriers on when and how the carriers would make the handsets available. Do you really think Blackberry just showed up and took notes while the carriers lectured them on how it was going to be?
        • Yes

          BlackBerry made the devices to all carriers as soon as they were available. The US carriers take significantly longer to test devices than anywhere else.

          The Galaxy S4 will be announced on Mar 14, and it will probably be available immediately in Europe. You won't be able to buy it in the US until at least May, maybe not until June.

          This is just the way US carriers work. Apple is a bit of an exception, because they're Apple.
      • Carriers are slow

        The US carriers have had the BB in testing since mid-1012. They're just slow, and they don't trust anyone. BB passed Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification last year. The US Immigration dept (ICE) phased out BB phones in October, then 6 weeks later noticed that BB has a new phone and OS, so they decided to have another look at BB. While The US carriers generally have been diddling with BB testing, the rest of the world has been hurtling ahead, so it's natural that BB would run with the advance pack and get back tho the USA later.
        • smartest move I've seen

          In a while is the late US launch, they got free publicity for weeks & at least some hype built up here, free advertising, very smart. BB knows we here in the US are a bunch of idiots that flock to a trend so think the idea was to at least give the perception BB10 was becoming a trend in other countries 1rst so hopefully it would hit the ground running here. Don't know yet if its working but - think it was a brilliant move IF that was the thinking behind it
  • no more keyboards

    I guess for those of you that don't realize, the ease of use and speed at which you can type using an onscreen keyboard is much better than a hardware keyboard. Not to mention, you can't use swype. As for communications, in jellybean you can pin email and messaging to your lock screen, so you don't even need to unlock the phone to see what's going on. All in all BB isn't a bad phone but they need to get rid of the keyboard already.
    Rock Hardigan
    • Some love that physical keyboard.

      Some people love that physical keyboard, although I've never been one of them and I'm glad they came out with the all touch screen Z10 first. However, since BlackBerry rules the physical keyboard market and there are a large number of people who still want one on their phones, I don't think BB will stop making them anytime soon.
    • I want my keyboard!

      It's -35C outside (which translates to -35F) and I need to send an SMS. Those capacitive gloves aren't warm enough! It's the one thing I like about my old BB, I can still use it in when it's way too cold but I still need to be out there.
      • Nokia Lumua 920...

        Has a super sensitive screen, works even with gloves on.
    • BB Keyboard phones are coming

      My understanding is the Blackberry wanted to get the Z10 to market first. The updated keyboard phone will becoming along in a few months.
  • BB is playing the US launch correctly

    The success of Z10 sales in the UK and Canada and other markets bode well for a successful US launch. BB CEO announced today that sales expectations have been exceeded and production increases are required....meaning the Z10 is a hit in their better markets.

    I expect the extra cash along with good reviews from their stronger markets only help them with the vital US market they have recently declined in. I think the BB team has played this just right and will again be a major player in North America.
    • Couldn't agree more

      People here (US) care about things most of the world doesn't. I read an article that dismissed BB10 based solely on the developers at Instagram stating that the had no intentions of building on BB10. Its just silly to think that ONE app would be a killer for an entire platform. Competition used to be a good thing. I mean, look what its done for BlackBerry. But people are eager to see BlackBerry fail but it looks like they aren't going anywhere anytime soon
      • Exactly

        Exactly my thought about Instagram. I found it quite mindboggling to read the US media giving so much importance to Instagram, or lack thereof, on BB10. While the availability of the app on BB10 would be nice, I think BBRY's new direction is targetting people very different from those who value a glorified picture-sharing app as a must-have app.
        Dyson Lu
      • Instagram?

        Instagram isn't developing for BB because BB has an Instagram clone built-in. Naturally Instagram is annoyed! Netflix, too, doesn't have an app for BB because BB does Netflix without an app. Some app-builders are in for a real shock!