Product Review: Blackberry Z10


As most of you know, the bloggers here at 8Asians have day jobs, and blogging is really a side activity for most of us. My day job is working as a marketing executive at a high technology company in the heart of Silicon Valley. With that type of responsibility comes the need to be in touch with co-workers and the home office during my busy travel schedule. It’s no surprise I was an early adopter of smartphones.

Back when Blackberry was first popular, I actually shunned them in favor of Palm Treo devices, which have now gone the way of Osborne, DEC, and GRiD. My reasoning at the time was that open source was better than proprietary, something I still believe in strongly today. I’ve since discovered (rather late in technology life spans), the Apple iPhone, and started with an iPhone 3GS when most hipsters were sporting iPhone 4S devices. It was a revolutionary change to my daily work experience and convinced me to do an upgrade as soon as the iPhone 5 was available and it is now the device I live on during my busy work schedule. So, when I was given the opportunity to carry a Blackberry Z10 with Verizon Wireless service for two weeks, I was curious if it could match up to my expectations and my needs as a busy road warrior.

Before receiving the Z10 device, I had no preconceptions. Although I was aware the Z10 was released, I hadn’t read any actual reviews of the product. In addition, I’ve never owned a prior Blackberry device, the closest I’ve ever gotten to interacting with one was when a co-worker would hand me their device to read an email or look at a photo, which inevitably would cause the unit’s screensaver to activate after a short time, and my confused response, when I couldn’t get back to the page I was looking at, so not a great experience as a back drop. But I had many friends who swore by their Blackberry, so I was eager to give it a try.

After agreeing to receive the Z10, the device arrived quickly and the packaging reminded me of the very similar packaging that my iPhone 5 came in. It was a nice compact box, with just the phone, cables and a minimum of documentation. Being the consummate geek, I avoided the documentation and dove right in to using the phone.

Initial setup was easy, entering my wifi information, and setting up email accounts. There was some confusion at first with the lack of a home button and trying to move around between apps, but I quickly figured out that flick of my finger along the bottom of the screen essentially acted like pushing a home button.

I forwarded my existing number to the new phone, added my email accounts, my Facebook account, Twitter and LinkedIn and I was set to go. The Blackberry Hub proved to be one of my favorite features on the phone, a single list of all my calendar items, emails, Facebook and LinkedIn notifications all in one list sorted by date and time. It gave a convenient at a glance status of everything going on in my life. The Hub was definitely a convenience over going to 3 or 4 separate apps to get an update in each place.

Over the first weekend, I had to attend a few parties, including an outdoor summer picnic. Great opportunity to try out the camera on the Z10. At first it too was confusing, since there was no obvious icon or button on the screen to push to take a picture. But I quickly realized, you can touch anywhere in the camera field display and it takes the picture for you. When I handed the phone to my spouse’s coworker so they could take our picture, she raved about that feature, saying she wished her camera phone worked like that. The phone sports an 8MP camera, and you’d expect pretty decent pictures, but I found with outdoor photos, and photos that faced open windows I got kind of an overexposed effect in much of the pictures. Picture quality was definitely better in my iPhone 5, which also claims an 8MP camera.

The only other downsides I found were the lack of some of the apps I depend on for my daily routine on my iPhone and shorter battery life. MobileDay has quickly become an invaluable tool for me, but is only available on iOS or Android. The other missing apps included airline specific apps for mobile boarding passes (for example, I could not find an app for American Airlines), and my OCR (optical character recognition) program for Chinese characters, Pleco, which is invaluable when helping my daughter with her Chinese homework. On the short battery life issue (I usually ended up having to connect to a charger before the day was over), I will mention I had push notifications enabled on everything I tried, while I do try to limit those on my daily use iPhone 5 to keep battery life to a maximum.

As to the social aspect of this phone, while carrying this phone around the office, I received negative and positive remarks. Compliments, like “How cool”, and negative ones like “How could you go to the dark side?” I guess people are very attached to their phones and how the phone projects an image for them. Personally I’ve never been a real “Apple fan”, but I don’t dislike Apple either, so carrying an Apple device isn’t a necessity for me.

Overall, a very nice phone, with almost all the apps I use on a daily basis, a much bigger screen, without making the phone cumbersome, a really useful Blackberry Hub (the center with all your updates from your social networking and email apps). Would I trade in my iPhone 5 for the Blackberry Z10? Probably not this go around. But if more apps showed up that filled the needs I currently have, it could easily go the other way. One final note, when it was time to give back the phone, and wipe my settings, the phone’s reset to defaults, worked flawlessly. I’ve not been able to get a single one of my iPhones to do this correctly without having to just wipe the phone and reloading iOS through iTunes.

Note: I did not receive monetary compensation for this review, but I did receive complimentary usage of a Blackberry Z10 device with Verizon Wireless service for 2 weeks.

Photo Source: Blackberry Website

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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