BlackBerry Z10 review

Tasked with saving BlackBerry, can the first BB 10 handset deliver?

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The key selling point of the BlackBerry Z10 is the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which may go some way to explaining the handset's unassuming design, with the manufacturer focused more on the software inside.

BB10 was launched alongside the BlackBerry Z10 and signals a new era for a company which hasn't had the best of times recently.

BlackBerry Z10 review

The aim of BB 10 is to drag BlackBerry into the here and now of the mobile world and offer up a system which is capable of challenging the likes of Android Jelly Bean, iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8.

This has resulted in a platform which is very different to the one found on previous BlackBerry handsets running BB OS7, which means a steep learning curve is required for both new and current BlackBerry users.

BlackBerry decided to move away from the physical buttons found on iOS and many Android devices, instead opting for a gesture-based system as the main form of navigation.

Press the power/lock key at the top of the device and the 4.2-inch HD display comes to life greeting you with the BB 10 lock screen.

You get the date and time on the screen along with notifications of any new emails, messages, BBMs and missed calls.

There's a shortcut to the camera app in the bottom right corner, while the general unlock function requires you to slide up from the bottom of the screen, which uncovers the homescreen below as your finger moves up.

BlackBerry Z10 review

Complete the unlock sweep to access your homescreen – which is some kind of odd mashup between Android widgets and Windows Phone Live tiles.

What you get is large thumbnails of your most recently opened applications. Only four can fit on the screen at once and you can have a total of eight applications in this list – you'll need to slide down to view the rest.

This is basically the multi-tasking function in BlackBerry 10 and you can choose to close apps in this list by hitting the cross in the bottom right of the preview.

During our extended time with the Z10 we found that we hardly ever slide down to see the other four apps hidden below, instead sliding sideways into the app draw if the program we wanted wasn't one of the last four recently used options.

We'd also preferred it if you could pin particular apps to this homescreen, as we'd have liked Facebook, Twitter and the web browser to be permanently on display and easy to reach - or you know, just the first page of your apps and get rid of the whole active screens completely.

For those of you who are fans of quick settings, you'll be glad to know that BlackBerry has catered for you on BB 10 – just swipe down from the notification bar on the BlackBerry Z10 and you'll get a small drop-down with toggles for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, alarm, rotation lock and notifications.

BlackBerry Z10 review

There's also a short cut to the settings menu if you need to toggle the 4G mobile hotspot or NFC on the Z10.

Frustratingly you can only set one alarm on the Z10 - come on guys what year are we living in these days - surely the ability to have multiple alarms on your handset isn't an overly taxing implementation.

Sliding to the right from the homescreen will take you to the app list, while going left will take you into the BlackBerry Hub – something we'll cover in more detail in the messaging section of this review.

The app list is far more familiar territory for anyone with smartphone experience, with the icons lined up in the usual grid formation, plus the ability to create folders by simply dropping one app onto another – now where have we seen that before?

Holding down on an app icon will make them all start to pulsate, with the option to drag them around and reposition them in an order which suits you, or you can hit the bin icon to delete a particular app.

The 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM housed into the BlackBerry Z10 means it has more than enough power to glide through the BB10 system, and we got a generally smooth user experience.

A software update has pushed out to the Z10 since our initial review and since installing the latest version of BB 10 we haven't experienced the lag and blank screens we sometimes noticed originally.

BlackBerry Z10 review

The fancy fade in/out animations as you skip between pages of apps is a nice touch, and applications open swiftly.

A responsive touchscreen aids navigation, and once we'd got to grips with the BlackBerry 10 way of doing things, the Z10 was pleasing to use.

Some gestures and layouts still seem a little confused, but the longer we spent with the handset the easier it became.

As there's no physical back button below the display it wasn't always clear how to get back to the previous screen, which left us feverously scrabbling around for a way to return to the start of an app without returning to the homescreen from time to time.

The way you exit applications is also new, with the Z10 requiring you to slide up from the BlackBerry logo below the screen to the centre of the device, which sees the app you're currently in minimised and upon release popped into the top left position on the homescreen.

It look a while for us to get used to this, instead of just hitting a menu key below the screen and we found it didn't always work particularly well - especially in the camera app and game World of Goo.

The BlackBerrry 10 platform succeeds at bringing BlackBerry into line with the other smartphone operating systems and the BlackBerry Z10 has no trouble running it, but it doesn't seem to have a clear advantage over its rivals.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSUPA, HSDPA, HSPA+, UMTS
SAR Value0.87 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedLTE 700, LTE 800, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2600, GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourCharcoal Black
Operating SystemBlackBerry
Brand NameBlackBerry
Battery Talk Time10 Hour
Product ModelZ10
Screen Size10.7 cm (4.2")
Screen Resolution1280 x 768
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)137.5 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating System VersionBlackBerry OS 10
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density355 ppi
Height130 mm
Width65.6 mm
Depth9 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time312 Hour
Product NameZ10 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Magnetometer
Manufacturer Part NumberPRD-49737-018
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationMeet the BlackBerry Z10

Experience BlackBerry Flow
Introducing a completely new way to use your smartphone. A new experience where features and apps work together seamlessly and share your train of thought to help you complete tasks faster and with ease. Discover BlackBerry® 10, designed to keep you moving.

Create. Organize. Act.
Managing a busy project? Planning this weekend's party? The BlackBerry Z10 has the tools you need to get things done on the move. Group relevant photos, lists, messages and web links into one place with BlackBerry® Remember - then sync tasks with your Microsoft® Outlook® calendar. Plus, with Documents To Go™ and Adobe® Reader® built in, you can update spreadsheets, documents and presentations on the move.

Powerful, responsive, fast
Discover a BlackBerry® Browser with speed, simplicity, powerful page rendering and built-in sharing to your favorite social networks. Found something you want to show your friends? Send a link through email or post it to the social app of your choice - all it takes is a couple of gestures.

Over time, your BlackBerry smartphone remembers how you like to share - just another example of how BlackBerry® 10 adapts to you and fits your life.

Turn words into action
Send a BBM™ message, schedule a meeting, update your social networks, or open an app when your hands are full - just by using your voice.

Voice Control recognizes natural speech patterns, so you can talk naturally and always be understood. You can use Voice Control anywhere you can type, so it's easy to dictate a document, compose an email or search your smartphone.

One device for work and play
Use your BlackBerry® Z10 smartphone for work, and access email, apps and documents without compromising your personal content.

BlackBerry® Balance™ keeps your personal information separate and private from your work data. Switch between your profiles with one simple gesture.

Stay secure
You don't want to worry about whether your stuff is safe. BlackBerry is famous for ensuring your messages, photos, apps and content stay private.

Plus, with built-in features like BlackBerry® Protect™, a lost or stolen smartphone doesn't have to be the end of the world. You can simply lock or wipe your smartphone remotely so your data can't be accessed.

Capture every moment
Take great shots with the super-sharp 8MP camera, or switch to the front facing camera and be part of the scene. Crop, enhance and apply artistic filters, then use the Story Maker app to weave those moments together and create the perfect movie.

Display your masterpiece on the big screen for all to see. Simply connect to your TV via HDMI or tap 'Play on' to link wirelessly through DLNA. You can share with your social networks too just by using a few simple gestures.

Do more. Manage less.
Spend less time managing schedules and tasks - BlackBerry® Calendar makes managing your busy schedule simple.

When you create a new appointment, BlackBerry Calendar suggests who to invite based on your existing events and who you invited last time. It will even show you friends' recent messages and social updates - so instead of 'How are you?' you'll know to say 'How was your holiday?'
Limited Warranty1 Year