Hands-On: BlackBerry Z10

We are into our 2nd week with the BlackBerry Z10 and we can say that it is a refreshing reboot of the BlackBerry smart phone experience. The BlackBerry Z10 is an all touch screen device and it uses a lot of gestures to move around. Initially, we expected the learning curve to be steep for the all new operating system but surprisingly we managed to picked it up rather naturally.

To recap on the specs, the Z10 runs on a dual-core 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 2MP front facing camera and a 8MP main camera. The display is one of the highest pixel density for this size at 355ppi on its 4.2″ display. In terms of resolution, it pushes 1280×768 pixels. It also comes with NFC compatibility and the removal back cover gives you access to its 1,800mAh removal battery, microSD expansion and micro SIM slot. In case you’re wondering, transferring photos to another Android smart phone via NFC is rather seamless.

Using the BlackBerry Z10 is quite a breeze with the BlackBerry Hub, which acts as one stop centre for calls, SMS, BBM, Email, Twitter and Facebook updates is stored in a unified manner. The middle pane houses the multi-tasking view where all the running apps are displayed in a 2X2 grid. This is accessible by swiping from bottom to top in any situation.

While swiping upwards, this gives a peek on the notifications on the BlackBerry Hub. To access the hub directly, you’ll just need to swipe up then move to the right in an upside down L motion. Settings are accessible by swiping downwards. These gestures are better illustrated in the hands-on video above.

How are we liking the BlackBerry Z10? It is one of the freshest approach to mobile right now and certainly a big step forward. We like the fact that you can wake the screen by just swiping upwards in sleep mode. However this may pose a problem of accidental screen unlocks in the pocket but it is good to know that there’s an option to disable gesture while the phone is in sleep mode.

Those who are very well used to the tactile feel of a QWERTY keyboard might be better off with the upcoming BlackBerry Q10 which is launching end of this month. That doesn’t mean that the Z10 keyboard is bad but in fact it is pretty responsive and we liked how it is able to predict your next possible word like SwiftKey. Switching to numbers and symbols is accessible easily by simply flicking the keyboard downwards.

Now onto the downsides. There are some software refinements that the Z10 is lacking in order to make this the perfect device. For example the camera isn’t always ready to take pictures if you have shared or viewed a photo previously. Normally when you launch the camera app, you would naturally expect it to be ready to take the shot. On the Z10, you might end up looking at your last photo or in the sharing app if you didn’t close them right after taking your last picture. Limited number of native apps is a hurdle for the Z10 but it is good to know that selected apps from Android such as Instagram can be side loaded.

Watch out for our full hands-on review coming soon.