Thursday, 31 January 2013

BLACKBERRY: Z10 FIRST IMPRESSIONS



BLACKBERRY: Z10 FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers... Are you thinking of getting the BlackBerry Z10? I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is keen to remain true yet is thinking about the forthcoming Galaxy SIV – her handset is up for renewal in April. Being a Samsung fan I advised her to wait... Is this justified? Let’s have a first impressions look...

Are you sitting comfortably?

THE DESIGN
In an earlier blog I stated that the design was unimaginative. However, I have to state that the Z10 does look better in actuality i.e. the aesthetic is more pleasing than the picture. Yet I maintain that the design is somewhat pedestrian; the Z10 looks like the unlikely child of the Nexus 4 and iPhone.

The hard plastic feels quite robust as does the 4.2", four-point multitouch LCD display, 1280 x 768 with a decent resolution at 356dpi.

On the right side there is a volume rocker and the middle part of the rocker serves as the Voice Control application – more on that later.

On top of the phone is the power button.

The battery plate is a mottled rubber-like plastic that stops the handset from being a bar of soap – just!

There are no virtual home, back and menu keys unlike the latest Android handsets. The Z10 is designed for gestures.

THE SCIENCE OF THE HAND: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO... WINK, WINK...
Let me tell you right now – if you don’t know it already – I am quite a burly guy with big burly hands. My hand dwarfed the 130mm x 65.6mm x 9mm phone. Because the interface relies on gestures it felt like trying to get a flame out of a disposable lighter; it took a few attempts to get out of applications. The 4.2” screen felt too small for my hand and my gestures required more screen. But I did manage to get the hang of it.

I have been spoiled by Android – it’s truly an advanced mobile device operating system. Oh, and, of course, spoiled by the larger screen of my Galaxy SII and Note II. Having said that, I still use my rooted Galaxy S that sports a 4” screen and that feels more comfortable than the Z10. I wouldn’t say that’s a disaster. Uh-uh... ...BlackBerry has created something relatively new in terms of interfacing with a mobile operating system; pure gestures. Like anything new it will take some time to get used to.

Therefore, I am inclined to think that the Z10 is suited to the dainty feminine hand. Or the petite male hand – if there is such as thing as a male being petite.

THE OS
The operating system, BlackBerry 10, isn’t bad at all. Again, it feels like BlackBerry have taken bits of iOS and Android and fused them together. The result is a somewhat sluggish beast. It doesn’t have the spring of iOS and the smoothness that is Android 4.1 – it feels in-between.

Apps take a bit of time to launch, the web browser is very, very slow. I clicked on the browser icon and there was a considerable delay before I got the web screen. The search uses Microsoft Bing and Flash is included; just when you thought Flash on the mobile was dead. BB OS 10 is kind of like Gingerbread or Froyo in their days.

Even with WiFi the web pages took ages to download. However, the sites do look good – almost perfect. I like that YouTube video embedded in pages plays directly from the page as opposed to launching the YouTube app!

CAMERA & OTHER APPS
The camera seems quite capable. I didn’t have too much time to spend on it. I will reserve judgement for a more thorough review. From what I saw I would say the 8MP camera is good – a little above average. But we’ll see...

One app that looked quite good was the Storymaker app that creates videos from full HD recorded clips and images.

Like Android, the BB 10 OS is able to multitask. By swiping away an app you can see other apps that have been opened on a ‘home’ or landing page whereby the applications can be closed.

Voice Control seemed ok, again, like Android it allows you to dictate text messages, emails, etc and launch applications. This wasn’t working 100%, so I am hoping to give you the full picture as soon as I am able.

I think Android and iOS have more to offer – certainly more apps in their respective stores. For a comeback it’s a step in the right direction but if you’re going to comeback in this arena you have to make big steps. This feels like a plod around the edge... It has something, but it doesn’t feel like it is going to be enough.    

MY OVERALL OPINION THUS SO FAR
I’m unimpressed. I had thoughts of having this handset as secondary or third phone and I can’t say that I feel the same way now. Should a more thorough test show more speed and that the gestures is a matter of getting familiar with the Z10 it could change my mind again.

I’m scratching my head wondering why the handset didn’t feature a larger contemporary screen. Hmmmm...

Here’s the spec:

Size
130mm x 65.6mm x 9mm

Display
4.2", four-point multitouch LCD display, 1280 x 768 resolution at 356dpi, touch on lens

Software
BlackBerry 10 OS

Memory
2GB RAM, 16GB Flash, hot-swappable Micro SD slot (up to 32GB)

Processor
Dual core 1.5 GHz

Talk time
Up to 10 hours on 3G

Standby time
Up to 305 hours on 3G, up to 316 hours on 2G

Audio playback
Up to 60 hours

Video playback
Up to 11 hours

Camera
8MP rear-facing camera, autofocus, 5x digital zoom, 1080p HD video recording, 2MP front-facing camera, 3x digital zoom, 720p HD video recording

GPS
Assisted, autonomous, and simultaneous

Bluetooth
Bluetooth 4.0 low energy

WiFi
802.11 a/b/g/n enabled, 4G mobile hotspot

Advanced sensors
Assisted, autonomous and simultaneous GPS accelerometer, magnetometer, proximity, gyroscope, ambient light sensor

ALTERNATIVES
The RAZRi and Nexus 4 come to mind as alternatives; these handsets are better in my opinion. Oh, the Acer CloudPhone comes to mind too (Acer CloudPhone review coming soon).

Thank you for reading!

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