BlackBerry Z10 review

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

BlackBerry Z10 review
The future of BlackBerry looks like this

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The BlackBerry Z10 comes with its own mapping and navigation solution simply called Maps.

BlackBerry Z10 review

The maps themselves have been provided by TomTom, and while they give a pretty good account of the lie of the land, it's not as polished as the excellent Google Maps.

There are far fewer features as well with just the standard map view available, no satellite overlay, no street view, no flyover, no public transport information – but at least it knows where places are.

We found the lack of train stations highly frustrating as we tried to the nearest one while out and about in London.

Visually the maps are not quite as impressive as Google's offering, with the images not looking overly defined – especially when you zoom out.

Opening the maps app was one of the few occasions where we noticed the Z10 struggling a little, as we would have to wait several seconds for the application to load up and locate us.

Once located the BlackBerry Z10 was able to keep track of our position well, even in built up areas where GPS sometimes struggles to reach.

The Z10 also wasn't the smoothest when it came to panning and zooming around the maps, with it needing a second or two each time to render the new image which made for a slightly jilted user experience.

BlackBerry Z10 review

There is live traffic information shown by coloured overlays on the roads to show the flow of traffic, with green being good, orange average and red highlighting delays.

This information is really useful, especially if you're planning a trip, and coupled with the route planner you can see exactly what the traffic is like on the roads you'll be driving.

It's not just the maps the BlackBerry Z10 offers though, as with Android and now iOS, BB10 also offers free turn-by-turn navigation.

It's a lifesaver if you end up getting lost, but beware that a data connection is required to load the map so it may struggle in you're up a mountain.


Apps were the big talking point in the run up to the launch of BlackBerry 10, with BlackBerry assuring everyone that had loads of developers creating applications especially for the platform.

BlackBerry Z10 review

Sadly the app offering in the newly renamed BlackBerry World is hardly inspiring.

BlackBerry says it has over 70,000 applications in the store, but it certainly doesn't feel like there's anything close to that number in there at the moment.

While 70,000 doesn't sound like a lot especially when you consider the likes of Android and iOS boast over 700,000 each, BlackBerry reckons it's the quality not quantity in BlackBerry World which makes all the difference.

That may be the case, but we'd question the quality which currently resides in the store, with a lot of big name developers and companies missing.

During the launch event BlackBerry said that WhatsApp and Skype were both fully committed to BlackBerry 10.

We had to wait over two months for WhatApps to finally arrive in BlackBerry World, and as for Skype - well your guess is as good as ours when it comes to finding out what's happened to that app.

We had hoped that since it was formerly announced at the end of January 2013 a deluge of apps which frequent the likes of Google Play and the App Store would arrive for BlackBerry 10, but alas that hasn't happened yet.

BlackBerry Z10 review

Of course BlackBerry will point towards the vast number of apps which are in the store and the speed at which it has managed to build its catalogue, but the reality is that a lot of apps we use every day are simply not present - a few examples are Spotify, The Trainline, Shazam and various BBC and Sky apps.

BlackBerry Word itself isn't our favourite app store in terms of design and navigation, with a confusing list of various apps, music and videos on the main page making it difficult to digest all the information.

You can refine your search by categories which goes some way to working out what's on offer and if you slide from the left of the screen accross you can filter by apps, games, music and videos.

In terms of pre-installed applications we're pleased to report BlackBerry hasn't gone overboard with the BlackBerry Z10.

The Remember app is BlackBerry's answer to Evernote (whish is another high-profile absentee from BlackBerry World) and it can even sync with the popular note taking app to ensure all your favourite shopping lists safely make the transition over to BB 10.

BlackBerry Z10 review

You can also share content such as pictures and videos to the Remember app if you want to make a note alongside a photo you've just snapped.

The app itself is pretty straightforward, with the ability to tap out a message as well as attach a file or audio clip to it.

DocsToGo is a great application for the business minded out there who may need to finish off a word document, spreadsheet or presentation while on the train to a meeting.

The full blown app enables you to fully manipulate your Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, although the 4.2-inch display on the Z10 is a bit on the small side for viewing a complicated spreadsheet.

Games is a hub for your gaming activity on the BlackBerry Z10 and works in a similar way to Apple's Game Center. It logs all the compatible games you play on the handset and any achievements you unlock.

BlackBerry Z10 review

You can add friends who are also playing on their BlackBerry handsets, compare progress and even challenge them to a showdown.

The Newsstand app, as you may have guessed, is a store for magazines and newspapers which you can purchase and read on the Z10.

An innovative slider along the top of the app enables you to scroll through different categories, while covers of the magazines available are displayed in a pleasing thumbnailed layout.

If anything we wish BlackBerry World took its design cues from Apple's Newsstand, since we preferred the layout there and navigation was much easier.

Single issues seemed to range from around £1.99 to £6.99 depending on publication, but there didn't seem to be any sign of a subscription service – perhaps that will come later.

Voice control lets you bark commands at the BlackBerry Z10 for when you can't be bothered to use your fingers.

It can be activated by holding down the central key lodged between the two volume switches, or you can tap the relevant icon in the app list.

BlackBerry Z10 review

We're not talking Siri levels of controls and questioning here, it's a far simpler offering, enabling you to say things like "Call this person", "Text that person" and "Make a note to buy milk".

As long as we spoke clearly then the Z10 had no trouble understanding what we were saying and was more than happy to carry out our orders - who's a good phone?

We probably wouldn't use this function day to day but we can certainly see its advantage in certain situations, such as driving.

Smart tags is an application that enables you to group together a bunch of information which can then be transferred onto an NFC tag, made into a QR code or passed directly to another NFC-enabled handset.

Instead of handing out a business card you could create a smart tag with all your contact information on and then share it via NFC to the phones of people you meet with.

You can save the tags you send so you can use them again and you can also save any you receive from other people.

The smart tags app enables you to easily create tags as well as mange the ones you've sent and received.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.