BlackBerry Z10 Review

8.1

Daniel Bader

January 30, 2013 11:01am

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It’s Wednesday, January 30th and unseasonably warm in Toronto. RIM has just nailed a presentation more than two years in the making. BlackBerry 10 is here, and the Z10 is its first representative.

It is difficult to talk about the BlackBerry Z10 in isolated terms. Yes, the phone resembles a modern smartphone is every possible way — high-definition screen, dual-core processor, LTE support, NFC connectivity — but it represents so much more to the company behind it. RIM needs this phone to do well; its success or failure will play an integral part in deciding the future direction of the company from both a hardware and software services perspective.

BlackBerry 10 is the long game: it will evolve over time, as the code itself grew from its QNX roots. But the BlackBerry Z10, RIM’s first consumer handset in nearly two years, must stand on its own. Its design, its internal specs, its innate qualities, must compete with so many other high-end smartphones on the market today. With that in mind, and with BlackBerry 10 in the fore, let’s take a look at RIM’s new superstar.

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Specs

– BlackBerry 10 OS
– 4.2-inch 1280×768 pixel TFT display
– 1.5Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC
– 2GB RAM / 16GB internal storage (w/ microSD)
– 8MP BSI back camera / 2MP front-facing camera
– 1080p video capture @ 30fps
– WiFi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS/GLONASS, NFC
– 1800mAh removable battery
– 130mm x 65.6mm x 9mm
– 135.4 grams
– 3G (850/1900) / LTE (700/AWS)

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The Hardware

RIM has resurfaced not only with a new smartphone operating system but an entirely new design ethic. The BlackBerry Z10 is a complete departure from anything the company has produced, including the PlayBook; it may at first appear to be another “thin black slab,” the type of unassuming smartphone that so many OEMs are creating these days, but it’s no such thing.

The Z10 has a distinctive face, with curved corners and an inner bezel separated into three parts. The top and bottom sections enjoin the chassis itself, breaking away from the 4.2-inch LCD display with clean lines. The device itself is taller than its screen size would belie, due in large part to the oversized bezel surrounding the LCD itself. BlackBerry 10 relies heavily on outside-in gestures, so RIM likely thought it prudent to markedly separate the display from the perimeter of the phone. While some may find the screen size disappointing in relation to the device’s overall dimensions, the front is so well balanced, with soft edges and perfect symmetry, that it never feels ungainly in the hand.

With a familiar BlackBerry logo below the screen, there is no carrier branding to be found on the Z10. The display is four-point multitouch, with excellent viewing angles and bright, accurate colours; it more accurately resembles the Super LCD 2 display of the HTC One X than the AMOLED type found on the Galaxy S III. The 356ppi pixel density is sharper than the iPhone 5, though it doesn’t match the ridiculous 440+ found on recently-announced Android products like the Sony Xperia Z. It’s a solid display that gets the job done without breaking new ground in the process; RIM did its due diligence, aware during the design process that the Z10 would have a high-definition screen competitive with its smartphone counterparts. However, like Nokia’s Lumia 920, the Z10’s screen responds to gloved hands, a feature sure to be appreciated by cold-weather Canadians.

At 135g and 9mm thick, the Z10 is well proportioned. Its plastic frame lends it a lightness that I appreciated when typing long messages — it’s less tiring on the fingers resting behind the phone — and it feels perfectly balanced for its size. This is an aspect of the phone RIM took a lot of pride in, as representatives were not shy about pointing out that, to excuse a poor reference, there is more to the Z10 than meets the eye.

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We find the microUSB and miniHDMI ports on the left side of the device; the volume buttons with a middle play/pause key that doubles as a voice assistant activator are on the right side; the top houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, power button and noise cancelling microphone; and the bottom contains the mono speaker and main clip for the battery cover.

Like all previous BlackBerry smartphone and, with clear sights on its utilitarian roots, the Z10 has a removable battery cover with a replaceable battery cell. The new battery, LS1, is taller and narrower than in previous RIM products and, at 1800mAh, is slightly larger. While I’d have preferred more raw energy to work with, as you’ll see shortly the BlackBerry Z10 performed well in our extensive battery tests, often lasting a full workday day on per charge.

The back cover is made of a sturdy, bendable plastic that is not unlike the Galaxy Note in terms of thickness and pattern. Its ribbed texture allows for a comfortable grip in the hand, and while it would have been nice to see something akin to the gorgeous battery door of the Bold 9900, RIM is keeping its legacy design for the BlackBerry X10. The unmarked — and unmistakable — BlackBerry logo sits in the centre of back cover, a glossy reminder of the company’s inveterate confidence (hubris?). We also find the 8MP camera on the back, near the top left, with a small LED flash to its right. It’s an austere and largely effective design, eschewing frills in exchange for business mindedness. It’s troubling that the camera sits so closely to the volume keys, which function as de facto camera shutter buttons; the camera app does not have a shutter, relying on an autofocus/touch anywhere mechanism that feels finicky. I often found myself wanting to use left-most volume button as a shutter key, only to cover the lens with one of the fingers on my left hand. Using my right hand to hit the shutter key forces you to cover half the screen in the process. There is no one ideal solution to taking photos, just a number of irksome implementations.

The top-mounted power button is not ideally placed, especially for those with smaller hands, requiring a slight readjustment of the phone in the hand. But the power button will likely be used half as often as on a regular smartphone, as turning on the Z10 requires a mere swipe from the bottom. This gesture-based interaction extends to much of the BlackBerry 10 interface, and is a key differentiator from other operating systems like Android and iOS. But gestures don’t entirely replace the back button, which appears in most native apps on BB10.

Ultimately, the BlackBerry Z10 may not have the forward-thinking design loyalists were expecting after such an arduous wait, but it strikes an effective balance between business and personal. It’s a well-made and nicely-designed phone that won’t win any awards for either category but assures that BlackBerry 10 has a modest and clean canvas on which to excel. The dual-toned colour scheme is attractive and the ribbed back cover is comfortable; the removable battery is appreciated and the play/pause button is intriguing.
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Performance

It’s difficult to make substantive comparisons to other operating systems’ performance, but the Z10 is a huge improvement over previous BlackBerry devices. This is not the BlackBerry OS you grew increasingly disenchanted with over the years; BlackBerry 10 is built on stronger stuff.

Without getting too technical, BlackBerry 10 was created with the touchscreen in mind, and is able to parse more data much more effectively than its Java-based predecessor. The four-point multitouch display responds to input instantly; the virtual keyboard is one of the most accurate and intelligent ever produced; app load times are low and framerates in 3D games are high. In other words, BlackBerry 10 can do everything an iPhone or Android device can do and needs slightly less power to accomplish it. That is because its code structure, based on the versatile QNX operating system, is extremely power-efficient, and RIM has built a wealth of standards support on top of this architecture. If BlackBerry OS was a swaying tower fashioned from particle board, BlackBerry 10 is a low-rise built with steel and granite.

But we’re used high-performance mobile operating systems: iOS, Android and Windows Phone are smooth, beautiful and power-efficient. BlackBerry 10 differentiates itself by being able to do more things at once, in the background, with little penalty to the battery. Its emphasis on true multitasking is one of the best features of the operating system; background apps return to the fore instantly.

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Because there are few cross platform benchmark tools available for mobile devices, I settled for Javascript-based tests. While these don’t tax the respective devices’ graphics processors as much as I’d like, they give a rough indication of where the Z10 stands in relation to the each respective platform’s current best hardware. The BlackBerry Z10 contains a 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 8960 SoC with an Adreno 225 GPU, the same part found in the Lumia 920, but the two devices inspire markedly difference results. Much of it can be chalked up to specific browser optimizations, but the reality is that the BlackBerry Z10 is relatively underpowered when compared to the quad-core Nexus 4 and the Cortex A15-like speeds of the iPhone 5. Even Nokia’s Lumia 920 elicits higher scores in two of the three benchmarks.

But the BlackBerry Z10 doesn’t perform poorly — far from it. Instead, it seems that the operating system has been heavily optimized for this particular chip, and I noticed little to no slowdown outside of a few buggy launch-day apps and the occasional poorly-scrolling Android port. BlackBerry 10 flies: apps launch instantly, the camera shutter is beyond fast and, at the end of the day, I rarely felt wanting for speed. It’s a shame there are no graphics-heavy titles with which to test the GPU, but games like Angry Birds Star Wars and Great Big War Game were indistinguishable from their Android and iOS counterparts.

I did encounter an issue with device temperature, however: after a few minutes of heavy activity, whether playing a round of Radiant or browsing a Flash-heavy webpage, the Z10 warmed up considerably, almost to the point of being unusable. It’s not just the back side that’s an issue; the LCD display itself was uncomfortably hot, forcing me to have to put down the phone for a few minutes while it cooled. This only happened during high-load situations, but it may be a serious flaw in the phone’s design.

The operating system’s speed was best felt when ambling through web pages. The native rendering engine is outstanding, providing a close-to-desktop browsing experience. Pages load quickly and, even with Flash turned on, scrolling never gets bogged down. Similarly, typing on the keyboard never gets backed up, unlike even the most powerful Android devices. The operating system intelligently prioritizes the foremost app while adroitly allowing background processes to continue; BB10 lives and breathes on its ability to notify.

To that end, the ability to “Peek” and “Flow” at any time is a huge boon to productivity. I didn’t believe it would be the case until I spent a few days with the Z10, but being able to swipe up from the bottom to check for unread notifications and quickly get back to work or play is tremendously useful.

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Software

We’ll cover the BlackBerry 10 OS more in-depth in our feature review but, to put it mildly, this is an outstanding mobile experience. Not only are the first-party apps such as Contacts, Calendar, Pictures, Music, Videos, Docs To Go, and the Browser competitive with all the current major mobile operating systems, but there is a level of polish here that we’ve never seen from RIM.

Leave behind for a moment the talk of “Is it enough?” and “Too little, too late?” and let’s talk about how BlackBerry 10. In many ways the interaction is similar to what you’d find on iOS and Android, with a dash of webOS thrown in there. There is a large grid of app icons available to open at any time, with a permanent three icon dock at the bottom with access to Phone, Search and the Camera. To the left of the horizontal app launcher is a multitasking screen comprised of a maximum of eight Active Panes, each one capable of storing and displaying a bit of information. Think of these panes as Windows Phone Live Tiles with a dash of Android’s widget functionality thrown in. For example, BlackBerry World will cycle through featured apps while BBM will show status or avatar updates. It’s simple and useful.

To the left of the multitasking menu — or, by swiping up and to the right from inside any app — is the Hub. This is RIM’s killer app, its pièce de résistance, and will appease all you current and former BlackBerry addicts. It’s the area of the phone that consolidates notifications — all of them — into one area. Email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Talk. The list goes on, as developers can plug into the Hub API for better integration with the notification system. Sure, the famous red LED still blinks; yes, the app icon still alights with infamous BlackBerry Spark star. These familiar assets act as the bridges that connect BlackBerry OS to BlackBerry 10; so much is different, and yet you can be sure that, either for work or play, your email, texts and social networks are as thoroughly integrated into the operating system as they’ve ever been.

As expected, the BlackBerry 10 email integration, along with the new virtual keyboard, is the best in the game. Typing is fluid and intuitive, and the email workflow just feels right. There were a couple instances of “Man, I wish they had this feature,” but they seldom cropped up. Notifications from non-native email accounts like Gmail were on par with the native app on iOS and Android, and adding the account to the Z10 also synced the calendar and contact list using CalDAV and CardDAV respectively.

Then there’s support for the enterprise, that much-neglected segment of the market likely to go nuts for BlackBerry 10. With Exchange Activesync support and the best VPN integration in the game, alongside legacy and new BlackBerry Enterprise Service compatibility, the Z10 stands to be an excellent work-issue smartphone. Where it may be hard to convince consumers to migrate from iPhones and Androids back to BlackBerry, existing BB users are in for a treat. BlackBerry Balance provides user accounts for work- and home time, allowing IT administrators to disable certain functionalities such as the camera during work hours. BlackBerry Protect provides remote administration and phone finding in addition to basic backup. With new apps launching for Windows and OS X, BB10 is increasingly showing itself as a platform, not just an operating system.

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Where the BlackBerry Z10 currently falls short is in its app selection. While RIM promised 70,000 apps on launch day (and we promise to evaluate the situation again shortly thereafter), there is a dearth of truly great software for the platform. While providers such as Flixster, The Weather Network, Slacker Radio, CBC, Rogers, The Globe & Mail, Angry Birds, along with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare, are all available out of the box, I found that either the apps lost features in the move from iOS or Android, or they were somewhat buggy and underdeveloped. It’s great to see name brands on day one, especially ones that I use on other platforms, but it appears that the long tail has formed early on BlackBerry 10, and users are going to wonder what all the fuss was about. It’s a remarkable achievement to see such a diverse array of apps on a brand new mobile platform, but the pull from Android and iOS is so fierce, and a strong app library is at the top of the list.

I must say that using BBM again after so long was both a joyful and disheartening experience. Like any homecoming, things are the same and yet you’ve changed, moved on. Such is the current state of my BBM list; after logging in with my BlackBerry ID, which synced the contacts I’d since abandoned to other messaging apps, I found 16 people. At the height of my BlackBerry usage in 2009 I had over 90 BBM contacts; today, after culling the list to those who still own a BlackBerry, I have six. From 90 to six in just over three years. But BBM as a social platform has expanded dramatically, and has far more appeal now than it ever did. BBM Video allows for high-definition conferencing over WiFi or 3G/LTE, and users can activate screen sharing to accomplish work-related tasks.

RIM also includes a Siri-like Voice Assistant that is activated by holding down the play/pause button on the side of the phone. It can perform many of the same tasks as its iOS counterpart: send texts and emails, search the web, schedule an appointment or make a Remember note. It’s very good, but too similar to Siri to make a dent.

BlackBerry 10 also comes with its own Maps solution that brings turn-by-turn navigation provided by TeleCommunications Systems, with mapping data from TomTom. The app is neither as fast as Google Maps or as attractive as Apple Maps, but it does the job in a minimal sort of way.

The issue of abandonment speaks directly to challenges RIM faces: how does a company, once so tall and since fallen so low, return to its former heights? How does it take a brand like BlackBerry and a messaging platform like BBM and convince millions of iOS, Android and Windows Phone users to return to the fold? Or does it focus on retaining its current BlackBerry user base, the 80 or so million still holding on for dear life?

BlackBerry 10 is a brilliantly-designed operating system, but in its recognizability is a key problem: it may not be different enough from iOS and Android to make a stand. Despite the scarcity of truly great apps, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on the Z10, and the well-roundedness of its feature set truly astounded me.

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Camera

The BlackBerry Z10 has two cameras, a 8MP back shooter and a 2MP front-facing lens. Let’s get this out of the way first because, if you’re currently a BBOS user you’ve never heard this before: this is the first BlackBerry with a good camera. Yes, the Torch 9810 and, to a lesser extent, the Bold 9900, had back cameras sufficient to use in an emergency, but I still see too many people taking grainy, cringe-worthy photos with Curve 9300’s.

Upgrading to the Z10 is like stepping into a different world, one you’re likely used to if you’re coming from an iPhone 4S or 5 or any recent Samsung Galaxy S. Photos are not only colour accurate and noise-free, but the lens is whip-bang fast. As mentioned above, the only issue I have with the camera isn’t with the photos themselves; rather, I don’t like the lack of touch-to-autofocus, as the camera tends to lose focus quite easily. There is a way to fix focus on a particular object: hold down on the screen for a second until the green framing square turns blue. When you lift your finger it should refocus on that particular object; the problem with this mechanism is its impreciseness, as you’re still at the will of the jumpy f/2.2 lens to find your target.

This is only an issue in situations of less-than-optimal lighting. The Z10 takes photos of amazing quality — truly, truly great — outdoors and in well-lit rooms, but disappoints when there is little to no light. The camera underperforms in lowlight scenarios compared with the Nokia Lumia 920 and iPhone 5, but it’s in line with many popular Android devices such as the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III.

There are two ways to fire in the Camera app. You can shoot in the Auto mode, which allows you to either tap the screen or depress one of the volume keys to activate the shutter. Then there’s TimeShift mode, that much-lauded feature licensed from Scalado. It takes a number of photos in a row (the shutter is really, really quick) and, with some face-detection magic, allows you to turn back time and select the best face for the finished product. In practice, the feature works quite well, and with some editing I was able to nail down a great photo every time.

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BlackBerry 10 has some robust editing features, along with filters and “scenes” that make for a bit of a localized Instagram. The sharing feature is also quite robust, allowing you to save or share your photo to any number of services like Dropbox, Twitter or BBM. The issue is that if you choose to edit a photo after taking it, once you re-enter the Camera app you’re still in editing mode and have to manually return to shooting. It’s a small but persistent bug that often left me frustrated — and will hopefully be fixed in a future build.


As with its still shots, the BlackBerry Z10 takes great — but not industry-best — 1080p video. Frame rates are smooth and colour is accurate, but the camera has issues adjusting to changing lighting conditions on the fly. The built-in video editor allows for quick trims, rotations and exposure adjustments, while the Story Maker app lets you add video filters, music, titles and multiple edits to your videos. It’s a full-featured solution that is certain to impress.

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Connectivity

Like any modern phone, the BlackBerry Z10 supports LTE connectivity up to 100Mbps, in addition to 3G up to 42Mbps. Whereas previous BlackBerry devices required a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) plan to facilitate much of the magic, such a plan is now only needed for BBM support — the majority of data transport is done over regular TCP/IP. What this means is that the Z10 is much more “cross-compatible” out of the box — it should just work with your LTE-enabled microSIM if upgrading from an iPhone 4S or newer Android — and you won’t need to explicitly change your plan unless you covet BBM.

It also means that the Z10, with its full-page browser and full assortment of bandwidth-intensive apps, will likely use much more data than your previous BlackBerry phone. With LTE speeds, the BlackBerry Z10 loaded pages and downloaded apps and media on par with much of its competition; you also have the option of disabling LTE, which in our experience saved between two and three hours of battery life per charge.

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The Z10 can create and edit NFC tags or read external tags, though unlike some of its competition, RIM does not include any in the box. That the Z10 has Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity bodes well for its future accessory compatibility, as we’d expect RIM to work with accessory manufacturers to bring support for third-party devices like smart watches, fitness bands and wireless speaker docks. There’s also a HDMI out for hooking your phone to a TV or projector; this allows users who download video or music content to easily share it with connected stereos or receivers.

As for network speeds, the Z10 achieved roughly what one would expect over the Rogers network: 22-30Mbps down and 6-12Mbps up depending on the location and time of day. And, for those who occasionally still use a smartphone as an actual phone, the Z10 not only sounded perfectly clear and balanced in a loud, but the person on the other end of the line said he could hear me better than on my iPhone. I didn’t even have to prompt him; he just told me that it sounded better than usual.

The bottom-facing speaker, on the other hand, was too soft for even the most modestly-sized rooms, and doesn’t bode well for the phone-as-conference-call crowd.

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Battery Life

For the first few days, your BlackBerry Z10 will likely not last the whole day; there is a fair amount of data being synced behind the scenes. Once everything has settled down, you can be certain of at least 10 hours of moderate to heavy usage depending on the number of accounts pushing notifications to your device. Thankfully, RIM thought it prudent to endow the Z10 with a removable battery, and there will be a dual-charging dock available at launch which will charge your phone as well as an extra cell.

In our extensive battery tests, the Z10 lasted just over 10 hours looping a video on 50% brightness with all network connectivity turned off. In our browsing tests, where we had the Z10 reload a page over LTE until the phone died, it lasted roughly eight hours. In other words, the handset, even when used heavily throughout the day, should last as long or longer than the average Android phone, and slightly less than the iPhone 4S and 5.

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The Competition

We haven’t really touched whether the BlackBerry Z10 can stand on its own in an increasing crowded and competitive market. BlackBerry 10 is a great beginning, a mobile computing platform that RIM hopes will last 10 years or longer. But in its initial incarnation, the Z10 is a must-have upgrade for existing BlackBerry users — in fact, even if you’re rocking a Bold 9900, I’d recommend hopping on the Z10 bandwagon over the equivalent QWERTY BB10 device.

Whether the phone is worth ditching your iPhone or Android for is a different story. At launch, even with 70,000 compatible apps and despite a number of absolutely killer features, the Z10 does not overshadow the iPhone 5 on iOS 6.1 or the Nexus 4 on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean in terms of usability, speed or convenience. It meets and occasionally exceeds the standards we set for it (mainly because, after BlackBerry 7 the bar was set pretty low), but RIM is going to have a difficult time convincing users entrenched in Apple’s or Google’s content ecosystems to make the switch. With the prevalence of iMessage and Facetime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik and others, BBM is no longer the killer app is once was, and the number of North American users has dwindled perilously.

The Z10 is a great phone with a lot going for it; its success will largely depend on how RIM builds out its app ecosystem. It’s encouraging to see so much developer interest already; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Flixster, Slacker Radio, TuneIn Radio, Angry Birds Star Wars, Asphalt 7, among others, are available on day one. But until we see mainstay apps like Netflix, Flipboard, Instagram arrive and, unfortunately, until developers coincide BlackBerry 10 releases with their iOS and Android counterparts, BlackBerry 10 will continue to be a hard sell. We said the same thing about Windows Phone 8 and though the situation looks less dire for BB10, the same rules apply. Many users will take a wait-and-see approach.

Where it will likely rocket to success is with enterprise users. Out of the box, BlackBerry 10 has support for RIM’s new cross-platform BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 as well as robust VPN features for IT administrators. Its excellent virtual keyboard, Exchange Activesync support, remote locking and wiping, HDMI out for presentations and BlackBerry Balance makes for a compelling value proposition in a market increasingly comfortable with bring-your-own-device workplace policies.

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Conclusion

The BlackBerry Z10 makes an excellent first impression, and is one of the most impressive pieces of hardware for a platform debut in recent memory. BlackBerry 10’s ability to consolidate troves of data into a usable space, the Hub, its powerful development tools and a growing community of loyal developers, along with excellent first-party and launch apps, bodes well for its entry into the Canadian market.

That it’s available across all Canadian carriers for less than the equivalent iPhone 5 makes the BlackBerry Z10 not only compelling, but within reach to both consumer and enterprise users alike.

What Works

* Excellent responsive screen
* Superb performance
* BlackBerry Hub is an incredible information consolidator
* BlackBerry 10 feels extremely polished
* BBM Video is a treat
* First-party apps are top-rate
* Great network speeds
* Good battery life

Needs Improvement

* Phone design lacks punch
* Launch-day apps feel perfunctory, occasionally unfinished
* Camera disappoints in low light
* Maps solution cannot compete with Google’s
* Occasional app bugginess
* Twitter app lacks multiple account support

8.1

Final Score

8.1

Final Score

  • skazzberry 2.0

    This must be left over hardware from China from the LG, Sony and Motorola production facilities. Rip!

    • Buy on the Rumours Sell on the News

      The phone is OK and it will be compared over and over to a samsung Galaxy S2, S2 LTE and S2 HD LTE.
      All of the above have their pros and cons an BIGGER BATTERY WITHOUT THE HUUGE BB-CHIN!

      The Pros:
      The Z10 is an OK phone with a G O R G E O U S SCREEN, but Fails with the BB-CHIN (DESIGNED for Self-defense??) and the tiny battery.

      Veredict:
      If the Z10 is priced above $350-399 ( the N4 is AVAILABLE NOW At $420 ALL IN) it will be a FAIL.

  • Skazzers

    RIP RIM!! RIP sp!!

    • sp

      RIP Skazzers. Go back to your toys!!!

      lets go BB10!!!

    • Amadeus

      Why don’t we give RIM a chance to prove they’re back…..

    • phreezerburn

      People getting upset over tight code not requiring buckets of real estate and CPU time to run flawlessly? I know its a foreign concept but at one time it was all about THE CODE and not the hardware. Also try not to think of it as 30 MORE MONTHS on your iPhone 5 contract but as 6 months into it…

    • takethemnow

      meds

    • Geoff

      Techically he’s right. Just maybe not in the way he’s thinking.

      RIP RIM, hello Blackberry!

    • JC Chong

      Actually to say “RIP RIM” is technically correct, because RIM is no more from a legal perspective… they don’t call themselves RIM any longer, but Blackberry.

      It’s nice knowing you “RIM”… but long live Blackberry!

  • charles

    god yes!!!

  • Jonathan Guernon

    This video say it’s private…

    • Daniel Bader

      Fixed, sorry!

  • tenk

    Honestly, what I find its that YES its a huge thing for blackberry, YES people who are BB fans will like the phone, but honestly its not THAT competitive versus other companies, they dont stand a part of them (and maybe a bit new for this competition).

    But once again honestly its only a matter of taste.

    • phreezerburn

      Don’t stand apart? Seriously? I have a Note II and it isn’t anywhere near as well setup as what I just witnessed from Blackberry. My wife and daughters are the iPhone users and having been through their handsets(iPhone 4, 4s and two 5), top to bottom, Blackberry owns the word “innovative” for 2013. I also have a Lumia 800 and Blackberry’s hub is vastly superior to Windows Phone People Hub which is the Windows Mobile’s one serious strength.

      So better a OS, better integration of the things users do more than anything else on a mobile handset and a truly remarkable one handed user experience are nothing new? So what planet are you really from?

  • Eduardo

    Good job RIM, I hope it is enough to pull them out of the hole. I will happily stay with Android but I really support them.

    • BB FAN

      How do you support Blackberry when you use Android?

    • Tom

      @BB Fan
      Huh? Do you think we need to declare total loyalty to just one camp? Like tenk, I’ve moved to Android and like it but would still love to see RIM come back.

    • Eduardo

      First of all, I don’t troll. Second, Some of my friends come to me for advice on electronics and give an honest opinion about their devices. I’m not completely satisfied with the playbook I have but convinced a friend of mine to get one as it would fulfill his needs (before the nexus 7 was even a rumor) and he is very happy with it. And once I get to play with one of these I will be able to do the same.
      So no, I don’t need to buy their stuff to support them.

    • Raid

      Well he’s not shitting on them that’s for sure.

    • Go SENS Go

      Hey just because I am a Sens fan doesn’t mean I won’t cheer on any team that will beat the Leafs.

      He can support Blackberry if he wants to while using Android. This is what drives innovation. Just ask Apple about the first generation iPhone when Blackberry was king of the smartphones.

      It is time for Blackberry to leapfrog over everyone else…

  • Vin

    Well why everyone including MobileSyrup using “RIM” to refer the company. It’s officially “BlackBerry” guys.

    • Tomatoes11

      Probably because RIP RIM sounds better than RIP BlackBerry.

  • Sam K

    This phone would have rocked if it was released last year.

  • skazzberry 2.0

    Because there is a wannabe skazzers floating around here unaware of the times.

  • Sean

    I want BB to succeed but the Z10 is pretty chunky. I also don’t like the bezel at the top and bottom that’s wasted space. I hope they succeed but for now i’ll keep my Nexus 4 it kills the Z10

    • phreezerburn

      Chunky meaning the same thickness as an iPhone 5? Or chunky as in higher quality rockers than a SG3 and a high rez screen in a smaller body? You do realize Apple is making a larger “chunkier” handset to compete, no? You better head on over to Cupertino and stop them before they seriously jigger up your bias.

  • Cody

    Pass.

  • Mathieu

    I had a few blackberries and they had all the same flaw, the screen was never “sealed” as part of the design (like iphone or galaxy for example) and every one of my blackberries got dust under the glass protecting the screen which ended on getting my blackberries changed/fixed. So I expect this one to have the same very bad flaw, i don’t understand why they haven’t made the screen as part of the body, it’s just look bad.

  • Lorne

    Why release a phone that doesnt even come close to speed of say..an htc one x or s..which were released a year ago and heats beyond being able to hold it….RIM is in big trouble.

    • Pat

      What’s with speed? Playing children games, or watching stupid talking animal cartoons? It is not about speed only. It is a business tool, and a telephone. Want to play games? Buy an igadget…

    • B-Mac

      People complain about battery life on all devices, then BB makes a device that is more power efficient then any of the other current android and iphones devices, and people on here are still hating lol

  • bourne

    no maps? no blackberry

  • Dern

    Nice review. A more positive tone than the Engadget review. I’m just disappointed in the 4.2 inch display. I’ve been wanting for a larger display than my Galaxy S2, however the BB10 OS seems to offer more appealing functionality than Android. Decisions decisions…

    • Pat

      You are right. I am now used to my Note 1, and use it for all my e mailing needs. I cannot thing of going back to a smaller screen. Hopefully, they will jump on the band wagon, and offer different sizes, like Samsung does.

  • Frank

    I honestly love the blackberry hub. But the phone and other features are ok….nothing that would make me drop my Gs3 and thats the hardest thing blackberry will face.

    • phreezerburn

      Not so. Wooing enterprise with an easy to use feature set for the staff, separating personal desktop from business and making backups i***t proof are the real selling points. This will NEVER be sold as an entertainment device nor should it ever be. The one they are taking on right now is the iPhone 5 and comparing the awesomeness of BB10’s feature set and user experience to the mundane reality of the iPhone 5(4s+ to be more accurate if you read the Apple literature of 2011 on what the 5 was going to be).

      Apple’s own sycophants have just taken to harping on BB10 lacking Instagram as a measure of their handset of choice’s superiority but let that sink in for a moment. They aren’t fawning over the innovation found within iOS6 and the iPhone 5 but in a 3rd party app’s popularity. By that reasoning Microsoft should have been crowing about World of Warcraft and every other thing landing on Windows first all these decades.

  • Dan

    Look how shitty that 1080p video sample is. All wavy and stuttery. RIP RIM!

  • Spencer

    The consumer Z10 doesn’t come with that pouch, just a heads up

  • talarico

    Before this event I was set to get the iphone 5 or SG3.
    After this event I’m STILL considering getting the iphone 5 or SG3.

    DOn’t get me wrong — It’s a great release for BlackBerry. I just don’t think it’s right for me at this time. IOS & Android still offer more IMO. I do hope BB sells a bunch of these devices. BB loyalists will buy this device in a heartbeat. The features are decent — certainly worlds away from what was offered on the BB7 devices. Welcome back to the game BlackBerry or at the very least, the playing field.

  • Johnny

    I dont know what you people are talking about, those are solid specs. It has everything the S3 and Iphone have pretty much and from what I’ve seen, it’s fast. People hatin before they even use it. How is that possible?

    • phreezerburn

      Most of the naysayers think ELOC is a girl sporting tattoos and pink hair.

  • nexus 4 life

    thank god i stuck with nexus 4 which i didn’t pay for

  • Tomatoes11

    RIP somebody! Most likely WP8 or RIM…er… I mean BlackBerry.

  • screamer

    The review is right it is people will wait and see and that’s gonna be the problem! Nobody spend 650 $ just to try it. Android I
    Did sell good because they are so many makers. IPhone has a lot of fans out there so that’s why they sell but blackberry has more haters out there than fans.

  • Ryan

    I think BB10 should stop or at least very much slow down the migration of BB users to iOS and Android. However I dont see them gaining back any market share in North America. Though I could see these taking off in other markets. Blackberry wont be going anywhere anytime soon.

    • Pat

      BB is very popular in the rest of the world, especially amongst business people. Here it is comon for people to carry up to three phones. For the business needs they carry a BB for the security aspects. Many carry an iPhone as a toy, and a droid for utility.
      I have never carried less than 2 phones myself, and a BB will certainly replace my office Nokia E72.

  • boib

    “the BlackBerry Z10 is relatively underpowered when compared to the quad-core Nexus 4 and the Cortex A15-like speeds of the iPhone 5″

    The Z10 has a Snapdargon S4, which is an “A15-like” CPU just like the iPhone 5.

    • phreezerburn

      Tight code never NEEDS bleeding edge hardware, ever. Wordy languages haven’t been a blessing to the industry at all. It certainly made it easier for companies to get away with mediocrity in both their staff and software products and in the end make greater profits dropping new veneers onto old engines. That big thumbs up to profits coexists with an extended middle finger to the consumer.

      Read up on NetBSD and FreeBSD and their contemporaries. It’s all there.

  • screamer

    It’s only about the price.that’s what can help blackberry. But 650 $ and I think the Q10 is the phone I would get. Hate typing on a touch screen

  • The Real

    Looks like the Nexus still beats it. And far as Specs set aside the 2 gig ram in see nothing that drops my jaw. Are we supposed to jump for joy because Rim errrr now called Black Berry has decided to join the future after being stagnet for so many years ? News flash this phone is a yr behind even by todays specs and won’t even be relaxed in the worlds largest market (U.S) until late March ..early April …fail!

    • QC_Al

      The Nexus 4 is LTE??? Not what I’ve read, correct me if I’m wrong. As well, don’t know why everyone is harping about the hardware…it’s all about BB10 OS and user interface and functionality. And (IMO) it is in a league of its own after what I’ve seen…

  • Michael

    Ummm excuse me but there is 10% of the world population that is left handed not 4%. Yup I’m a lefty. =)

    • phreezerburn

      Me too.

  • Kriilin Namek

    I think the single biggest “game changer” (to use that hackneyed phrase), and it’s not talked about much, is BB Balance. The whole BYOD thing is talked about, but if your employer provides you with a BB10, will you bother getting a personal phone now? Biggest caveat there is the carrier usage, I’d like to see dual SIM.

  • Alison

    I think this will work. I know most people use Android or iPhones as their personal smartphone. However, how many of these people use a Blackberry as their work phone (if their companies give them one)? I would dare to say “MOST of them”. These people most likely want to ditch their personal phones so that they can leach on their company phones, but they have not done so until now because the existing BB s***s as a personal phone. The BB10 has good internet connectivity speed, video playback, GPS, etc.. This will do for most of us.

    On Games – Corporations, meaning your bosses, don’t care if your phones have games, so BB10 not having games don’t concern them.
    On Apps – useful apps are good (I like the tip calculator on my phone, too). So I hope BB can catch up

    I am confident that BB10 will be a winner among corporate users, especially those whose companies refuse to switch their BB enterprise platform due to the unproven security records of iPhone and Android phone as a business phone.

    • phreezerburn

      To most here security isn’t of any concern… mind you if Oracle is finally on the record that the Java security issues are more than just a tempest in a teacup, they might not have a choice.

  • wireless wonder

    Is this BB10?

  • Sweet

    According to the specs you listed Daniel, it doesn’t support 3G/4G in the AWS bands. Since Wind has announced that they will carry it, does that mean that there are two versions of the Z10, one that supports 3G/4G in the 800/1900 bands and one that supports 3G/4G in the AWS bands ?

  • Brad F, Brad F(anboy), jack

    Dimitri k. will be commenting on the price of this phone from every carrier shortly.

    I’m gonna out TOOL this troll of a b’atch!!

  • ukrainian

    I remember the release of original torch (first touch screen blackberry). They were selling it as an iPhone killer. It was one of the worst touch screen phones on the market (all of it prior to Google even considering getting into phone game). So, now they come out of hiding with a phone that is at par with existing phones on the market, just from reviews. That means actual use might be even worse. Really?!?!? That isn’t a game changer that is just sad. I would love to use an awesome blackberry in the future, but it’s not it. Staying with Nexus 4 for now.

  • David

    This is a step in the right direction and I’m sure it will re-ignite the existing Blackberry user base, but I don’t think this is enough to pull Blackberry out of the plight it has found itself in. Blackberry has made significant improvements but even if I had all the money in the world, I can’t find a compelling reason to put down my RAZR HD with it’s amazing battery life, fluid performance, and access to google play for a Z10. You’d also be unable to convince my dad to drop his iPhone 5 with it’s ease of use, and excellent app selection. I think many others who have already adopted Android, iOS, or Windows Phone would agree that this is a good step forward but there’s nothing that screams take my money now.

  • Vince

    What people don’t understand is that this is a phone that was built in less than 2 years. Sure there isn’t much innovation, that’s because they built it from the ground up. This is a phone that is going to be built on, this is just the base. I’m amazed that they were able to do so much in the time-span that they had. I’m waiting for my Z10 to arrive on the 5th and i am looking forward to seeing them move forward with this idea. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • rockman

    Go team Blackberry! Rooting for you from head to toe!

  • hunkyleepickle

    i really don’t like that splashy logo on the front….other than that, nice design. As far as software goes, i’ll likely never have an educated opinion, i think i’m way to deep into ios and stock android for another os in my life.

  • phuzzykiller

    I’m personally waiting for the GS4 to come out, but this phone is very tempting. My only issue is that I’ve invested to much $$ in the android ecosystem to give it up now without being offered something VERY sweet.
    That being said, my GS2 is starting to die….

  • Lucas

    At least the screen is reasonable size.

  • YSM

    i wanna cry…i wish i had one!

  • Brandon S

    Absolutely fabulous, well done review!

  • jonno

    As a current dual-phone weilder (BlackBerry and Android) I think the Z10 will meet my personal needs better than my Amaze 4G does, so I’ll be pretty happy to drop down to one device. It fits my heirarchy of needs a lot better, dealing with communication and the like. Yes, I play the occasional game, and the ones I play “more frequently” (if by frequently you mean once a week tops) look like they’ll be there right from the get go. The big thing for me is communication. Yeah, my android phone does it, but nowhere near as well as my BlackBerry ever has… any one of my previous BlackBerry devices, too, for that matter. I’m not just talking BBM, either, I mean ALL my communication. The lack of a unified inbox on Android means that for each and every communication-related notification, I’m headed to a different app. If there are multiple notifications for one app (like multiple e-mails or multiple texts), I don’t know who they’re from, just that I have X number of new messages in said app. It’s not the end of the world, I know, but it’s a convenience to be able to go to one place and see exactly what messages I have, from whomever, in each app.

    Every person is going to have a different set of needs from their mobile device. Some “need” a killer gaming platform. Some need an amazing imaging device. Some need a stunning entertainment system (i.e amazing movies and amazing audio). Some need an astounding communications device. Some need productivity. Some need… you get the idea. Every one of us is different. This device, the Z10, fits what I need better than an Android phone could, and better than the iPhone would. That may not be the case for everybody, I know some people really need the insane processing power in some Android phones, and some need the stunning multimedia experience you get with the iPhone. Some need the office capabilities of Windows Phone 8 (I don’t use it, but it’s still a viable platform… right?).

    Just my two cents.

  • Paul Q

    That was probably the toughest review ever written. How do you make something so mediocre sound decent without coming across as biased… As I thought, it was impossible.

    The only way this could have been successful was to go for a superlow price point. Sell it at a loss to regain market share. Get people excited about it. As it is, old technology playing catch up will never do well.

    I really don’t understand how a company can continue to make bonehead decision after decision. It really is amazing. Everyone knows what they should do but they just can’t get it together. Pitiful.

  • JT

    I don’t understand why people are hating on BlackBerry so much. You guys realize that they are the reason why we have smartphones. BlackBerry (previously known as RIM) was the FIRST EVER smartphone, they paved the way and brought a product that you didn’t even know you needed. Without the very first BlackBerry, iPhone and Android wouldn’t have had something to base their first designs on. Yes, BlackBerry has made mistakes in the past with certain models (Pearl being the best example) but the Bold 9900 is a great phone (which I own). I hope that people can see that this isn’t the old BlackBerry their used and make a huge comeback. They have stuck true to who they are as a company and you can hate all you want but BlackBerry constantly make updates for even their oldest devices because they love their customers. While Apple doesn’t even make updates for the iPhone 3 anymore because they want you to buy a new phone. I’m sorry, but I would much rather support a company that appreciates me than one who’s just after my money. BlackBerry ’till the end, whenever the end maybe. <3

  • OU812

    US the world’s largest market. U serious? U all can have your iphones n androids. BlackBerry will play with the rest of the planet thank you. U guys can’t get your s**t together about the 16 trillion debt load n u telling blackberry can’t cut it anymore. Lolll.

    • phreezerburn

      Very much this. If we see Lenovo and Blackberry knock out an agreement then expect China’s market to be owned by Blackberry and Lenovo’s hardware access and facilities to take over a portion of the production or the R&D. People must remember that Lenovo’s deal with IBM included full access to their patent database and big blue is still a star in R&D.

  • Hahaha

    Canada is pathetic with how much we blindly support our own businesses. This phone is mediocre and is DOA!! I’m going over to Engadget where people aren’t blinded by their national bias. I’m Italian and I know samsung is the best.

    • heyhey

      You know that Engadget is writing nearly all positive reviews of this phone too, right?

  • Kevin

    Pre-ordered a Z10 from Rogers last night..

    Very pumped!!

  • Mike

    This was FULL of mistakes, the few I remember are;
    Older blackberry like the 9860 have the screen on/off button in the middle, they also have the play/pause button on the side(no voice control) and some of the older BlackBerrys didn’t have a company logo.
    Mine is a 9860 (surprise) on Telus, but it doesn’t have a logo anywhere.

  • Satroyd

    F**K RIM is Canadian ! What are you doing ” Hoping That RIM will die ASAP ” We want to keep them and wish them the best luck ever !

    GO RIM GO, GO RIM GO, GO RIM GO. Cellphone business is more interesting than hockey :) .

  • vicky

    very good review! just ordered white z10 for $39.99 from Rogers! can’t wait. looks amazing! people need to give blackberry more credit…building a platform from scratch rather than going android!

  • MattyMattMatt

    My store got a demo device. In one word, I would call it stuttery. It isn’t lagging or slow, but a lot of the animations simply aren’t smooth. They seem to bump while doing a free scroll rather than slide. Other than that, pretty nice phone, though the demo loop is starting to piss me off well good.

  • heyhey

    Nice review. Thanks for the part about the battery life, other reviews did have give such detailed information based on usage.

  • Falco

    Someone asked how does one make a mediocre device sound decent. That’s basically what I was tbhinking. There seemed to be contradictions within the review. There would. Be praise followed by the but’s. The main thing is I don’t get a $600 feeling. And camera wise, I can’t find anything better than Sony or sound quality, for that matter. I suspect the reviewers aren’t really really all that impressed with the Z10, but they don’t want to trash BB right out of the gate. Rather let’s see how the race progresses. When the Q10 comes out, that could be the pivital moment as I know most BB users still prefer a physical qwerty keyboard. I’m keying this on the slideout board of my SE Xperia Pro because the touch screen drives me nuts. The Q could possibly attract people like me, but the $600 tag and iffy camera would deter me.

  • gramz

    ummm how come its 3g get it up to 4g wtfffffffffffff

  • Rob

    Hoping the best for the new Blackberry brand, more competition is good.

    I think the specs are pretty close to the higher end Android devices. I think that they should sell off their handset business and just go with their OS and network, imagine a nexus 4 clone with the BB10 software and network. Really, Blackberry hasn’t been an inovative hardware builder for years and other players have surpassed them.

  • captain67

    It amuses me that they chose to make BB10 look more like Android than iOS. Generally, companies will make their product the most similar to who they believe is the best. Does this mean in their eyes, Android is the top dog for a nice design? If there are striking similarities, but BB10 puts in a true effort to succeed in areas when Android fails, such as smoothness and optimization, we may just have something special here.

  • Dave

    Attractive battery! BlackBerry made sure it’s nice like to look at, because you’ll be looking at it a lot when you rip it out of the device 4-5 times per day.