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Bill Bennett


Coming to grips with the Blackberry Z10

First impressions of the Blackberry Z10 phone: Much is good, but there are annoyances.

Blackberry Z10 screen
The Blackberry takes good screen shots when you click the up and down volume buttons at the same time

Hardware: Physically the Blackberry Z10 hits the mark. The display is as good as any other phone. The phone feels good in my hands. The rubbery back cover makes it comfortable and easy to grip most of the time that means using my right-hand thumb.

The Z10 is roughly the same size as an iPhone 5. This means you can do most tasks using one hand and your thumb – that’s not the case on the slightly larger Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Nokia Lumia 920. The Z10 weighs a fraction more than the iPhone 5 – but you don’t notice the difference in practice.

Camera: Although the 8 megapixel specification looks good on paper, the Z10’s camera is clearly not as good as that on the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Nokia Lumia 920.

Pictures are grainier and the Blackberry struggles when picture-taking conditions are not great. Taking pictures is easy and the quality is good enough for most uses, you just don’t get the same crispness or clarity as elsewhere. I wouldn’t recommend this phone if picture quality is important.

The Blackberry Hub pulls mail, Twitter and other incoming services together. It's a good idea, but doesn't always work as expected.
The Blackberry Hub pulls mail, Twitter and other incoming services together. It’s a good idea, but doesn’t always work as expected.

User interface: I’m struggling a little with the phone’s gestures. While they seem good enough, I’m switching between phones during this test and that means having to reboot my brain each time I start using the Blackberry. A full-time shift would be easier.

The lack of a hardware home button isn’t a problem. I do miss having an obvious home screen. When you swipe the screen to open the display the phone takes you to a grid of open apps. You can easily move between them, close them and see what’s going on, but I don’t find this as good as the live tiles on the Windows Phone 8 home screen or even the messy home display on the Galaxy S4.

Some of the gestures are good. I like being able to slide up the screen to see if there are incoming messages waiting for me. I prefer this to the Android notification bar.

Keyboard: Blackberry fans expect nothing less than the best software keyboard on a screen-only smartphone. The Z10 delivers this in spades, although it takes getting used to. At the launch BlackBerry said the keyboard learns your behaviour – that’s good but I haven’t seen it yet.



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