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Blackberry Z10: the good stuff you may have missed

Blackberry’s Z10 smartphone failed to set the world alight. It didn’t deliver the turnaround the ailing phone-maker hoped for.

Consumers chose not to buy it by the truckload. That’s hardly surprising in a choice-packed market dominated by brands carrying more 2013-smartphone cachet than Blackberry.

Yet the Z10 is not a bad phone. I see it as the smartphone equivalent of the kid who you want on your side but is never among the first when captains pick football teams.

There are plenty of reasons for this. Some say Blackberry didn’t do enough marketing – it hoped the brand name would carry the launch.

Another reason, certainly not the top reason, the Z10 didn’t get momentum is that many people never got a close enough look to see what the phone has to offer. It has a lot of interesting features and ticks all the important boxes.

Here are some of the good things in the Blackberry Z10 you may have overlooked. Many turn up on other phones. You may even find other phones that have them all. No matter, they still make owning a Blackberry a better experience than some people would have you believe.

1. Micro HDMI port

There’s a standard micro USB port on the Z10 which means you can use almost any smartphone charger to top up the power. Next to it is a Micro HDMI port which can plug-in to a HD TV set.

What does this mean? You can take video footage on the phone and you can play it back on a big screen or you can store movies on the phone and play them back, say, while in a hotel room on a business trip. Blackberry executives use this feature to deliver PowerPoint-style presentations.

2. Removable battery

Modern smartphones are often sealed units. If the battery goes, you have to fork out for a new phone or, in theory anyway, commit to an expensive refit – that’s something people almost never do.

Blackberry’s Z10 battery is easily removable. That makes updating a dead battery simple. Better still, you can carry a spare battery if you’re heading off on a trip and don’t know if it’ll be easy to get a recharge. Spares are generic and are not expensive.

3. Upgradeable storage

There’s 16 GB of storage in the Blackberry Z10. That’s enough for most needs, but not a lot if you want to cart movies around – see the first section above – or if you like a large music library.

The Blackberry has a Micro SD card slot that can take up to 64 GB of additional storage – that gives a total of 80 GB. A 64GB Micro SD card costs a little over $100, so if you’re a storage fiend, you can carry more SD cards and swap them as needed.

4. Android apps

Blackberry’s native app store is small compared to iTunes or Google Play. There may be 100,000 apps compared with more than a million elsewhere. However, the Z10 can run Android apps.

It can’t run all Android apps and some might not work as well or look as good as they do on their home OS. Not all Android apps work as well or look as good across the entire Android spectrum. Even so, you can fill some of the gaps by using Android apps.

5. Neat software

Blackberry’s native app store may be lightweight compared to the giants, but the standard software bundled with the Z10 is better than you’ll get on many other phones.

One of the highlights is Documents To Go. This has been around forever – I used on a Palm Pilot. Now Blackberry owns the software. It gives you a smartphone equivalent of Microsoft Office – in fact it’s fully compatible with Office – and it works with DropBox.

6. Blackberry Hub

If you want a phone mainly for entertainment you should probably go elsewhere although Blackberry fans might argue otherwise. On the other hand if your main goal is to get things done, Blackberry’s Hub is a good starting place.

Hub pulls all your communications into a single, central spot. That’s handy, but to make life even easier, the Hub is never more than a gesture or two away from anything else you do on the phone.

7. Get a life

Blackberry Balance is the name given to a set of features which allow you to keep your work smartphone use separate from the rest of your life. At first this might sound a little oddball or cranky, in practice its great for people who might otherwise need two phones.

Balance lets your company’s tech department set up a safe partition for work use that doesn’t interact with private use. From their point of view it means you can’t copy and paste important business documents onto a Facebook page. From your point of view it means you don’t risk appearing unprofessional.