1 Month Later - Unbiased Z10 Lengthy Review
The purpose of this review, which I've been meaning to do for a few weeks, then decided to wait for a full month, is not to flood with "yet another blah blah blah, this product sucks; this product is the best thing ever." Its purpose is to provide the community with perspective, or potential consumers with perspective about where the BlackBerry Z10 sits in a very crowded market, if it has a place, and what that place is best marketed to. Hopefully it's enjoyable, because I'm going full steam ahead here with this.
My smartphone life started with a BlackBerry, my first device quickly became another, and then I went to the iPhone. I owned multiple Apple products at the time, and the fit seemed right. By the time the 2nd iPhone (3G) arrived, the Bold 9000 had come out, and surprisingly enough, I bailed on iOS entirely, haven't looked back to it. I had my Bold 9000 for 2 years, or about 2 years. It was the best phone I'd owned to date, despite it's flaws in the apps & OS department. After the Bold I purchased a Nexus One. I grew tired of hearing "soon" from Blackberry and went to Android. Let me pause here to point out that I am no loyalist, in fact I think brand loyalty is extremely limiting if not entirely dumbing for a consumer to take part in. We're already bombarded with ideals of what to think, why we should think things, how we should think, how to live, that I feel like giving any corporation, historically / morally good or bad, is a very very silly thing to do. Their function, all of them, is one thing. So the HTC Nexus One was an eye opener into what is possible and where this entire market is headed. I flashed countless OS's on that phone, from Sense ROMs, to AOSP stock Android ROMs. After almost 2 years as that by my side the screen finally decided it was going to shut off and never turn back on again. Next device was an HTC Sensation. Again, very experienced with this phone, had it another 2 years. The end of that two years was the April that we're currently in, conveniently timed for the launch of the Z10. I have multiple android products around, so why not give the Z10 the chance it deserves. This brings us into actually obtaining the device. I wrote this detailed history on my device history to provide perspective of the entire review to follow.
I was actually excited to get the Z10, I showed up at the T-Mobile store down my block in downtown Los Angeles, waited for the store to open and purchased 2 BlackBerry Z10's (50% of their inventory on launch day) The intent, initially was to purchase 1, but while standing in line to purchase, my significant other decided to get one as well, so we could BBM and utilize that function like we used to with our 9000s. Devices were purchased, home was returned to, and boxes were opened.
Immediately the build quality is noticed, by both of us. It really is a strikingly simple yet beautifully built device. This is noted by both of us. We go through the setup, get our email going, all is easy enough. Contacts appear, BBM actually restored from nearly a 5 year break from BlackBerry, and our old contact lists appear. Mine was populated with 100, the other z10 restored about 150 BBM contacts.
Great! we're rolling now. Put my case ordered from China on the phone, looks surprisingly like a legitimate BlackBerry case, fits perfectly, photos here:
We're both coming from a few years of using Android extensively, and we're impressed with what BlackBerry has done. There's all the newness usage of a new device going on. Find an app to use Google Music service, which was a huge "what if" for me, as my music library is almost 100GB and stored remotely, a service offered free by Google, which I use extensively everywhere I go. Load up some Reddit functions, etc. We've got the device a few weeks, I'm loving it, the other one, not so much. Google services and ease of app use are waining pretty hard on the other device. The other device is also experiencing multiple random restarts throughout the day, even when not in use, and also while in use. This is not only taking its toll on the experience, but battery life also.
We're both ok with the camera, and I mean just ok. The camera is on par with android devices of a couple years ago spec wise, and results wise. The keyboard is incredible, best software keyboard either of us have ever used. It's the devices shining star. I could fill this review with a hundred things that have been said already, but I won't. I'll try to cover all bases at least lightly, and put our perspective into the main point of this post. We love BBM, use BBM video a lot, and even voice calling when only data is available. The web browser is pretty great. It isn't perfect, but it's above par for even current devices coming out right now. The overall OS is fast and fluid. Ported apps are a joke. They load and function, but you're trapped inside software emulation and when using an app like Instagram not able to use the bb10 camera and using emulation through the android camera software, which is about 4 years old now. Google Maps port works, but barely. The navigation (it's best feature) is crippled by constant GPS drops. This is only even noted because the pre-loaded BlackBerry Maps is unusable for anything other than quick point A - B navigation with an address obtained prior to navigation.
The search function on BlackBerry Maps is so bad I can't even really review it. It doesn't find a slew of local businesses that have existed for well over 10 years in my immediate 3 block radius, and has iffy results even finding my apartment building which has been the same address for 100 years exactly. BlackBerry Maps is embarrassing overall when it's compared to even Google Maps on a BlackBerry 9000 5 years ago. This is a crucial piece of function for a smartphone these days. More on this later.
We move onto Calendar. It syncs most of my Google Calendars perfectly, doesn't do subscribed, not a huge deal, but annoying. It's lacking an easy agenda view, but overall I like the Calendar app quite a bit. We've already discussed Camera, so onto Contacts. I actually like the Contacts app, despite many of its flaws noted throughout these forums. Linking Contacts can be done easily right from the default list view. It's a winner as far as I'm concerned. The Clock app is rudimentarily simple and needs multiple alarm functions, end of discussion on that, that's all there is to say. Onto the Phone app.
The phone app is not as good, or as nice looking as it should be. There is really not a great way clear a missed call from the Hub other than to open up the phone app and scoot over to "Missed". This could easily be remedied and I feel like there is a lot of redundancy functionality within the app itself. VVM works good but i don't think it should call the person when you press on a VVM line, it should just open up the voicemail. I still find myself not getting this and having to "end call" on an accidentally dialed number frequently. There's not much to say with Music, Pictures, Story Maker, Text Messages, Videos, etc. They're all very simple apps and have been covered as much as they really can be.
The Hub. I really like the Hub, I would love the Hub if it didn't default to the last view when attempting to peek. This renders the entire peek functionality totally useless. This should at least be an option, maybe some people like it this way. I do not, and it takes away from me loving the phone that i have to do multiple things to see one notification. This problem doesn't exist on Android or iOS as both systems have a single action to view notifications. I love the gestures for the phone, I think once you get used to it, it can be a faster way to access things on your phone, it also means you can do gestures just about anywhere on the screen, which makes it easier to hold in one hand.
After nearly 4 weeks with the phone I like it a lot. I've chosen my words carefully, when I say like, I mean like. I knew exactly what I would be getting into by purchasing this phone. I knew the app situation well ahead of time, and I haven't complained about it. Apps will come when marketshare comes, and that is up to BlackBerry to do. It's been like that on all platforms. I am however forced to admit that I cannot carry this device alone. I still carry an Android phone with me. The Z10 does not do everything I need it to. It does much of what I need it to, just not all of it. It is the main device, but when I need to do things like search my email, navigate, etc, it's just not pulling through in those areas.
I recommended the Z10 to a friend that abandoned BlackBerry long after me originally, and was super excited to get back into it after hating Android. She's a real estate agent, and a stereotypical business woman down to how she dresses. She couldn't keep the Z10 more than 2 days. She has years worth of emails she references every day and uses navigation software with Google Maps all day every day. Her biggest let down wasn't navigation, it was the fact that email and communications were what always made BlackBerry great, and it's totally crippled on the Z10. I agree, not being able to go back to emails easily (don't tell me to use the web interface, that is a joke solution) is a painful omission on BlackBerry's part. This puts the Z10 behind all Android and all iOS devices in the communications department. This can't really be argued, but try if you like, the truth of the matter is, the Z10 does not offer great email functions that every other device does. This is really ultimately just baffling as it's not only been what BlackBerry was famous for, but actually what started the company to begin with. I should mention I attempted to remedy this with a 3rd party GPS/Navigation app that required me to download and install 2GB of maps for offline use. I didn't find that it searched very well at all, uninstalled it and now that 2GB of space is still being used. There is no known way to alleviate this woe. BlackBerry does not supply you with tools to view app data and jumbles it all together into "other data". I do not know how to solve this and that 2GB of data is just gone for me unless I wipe the device. Something needs to be done about this. Apps can't be allowed to install and just kill space even after they're removed. This is a benefit of a rooted Android device, while I do not expect to "root" my BlackBerry, I do expect to be able to have control over the used space on the device.
The other Z10 in the house got returned yesterday. The loss of function for my S.O. was just too much, and ended up just being mad at the Z10 over and over again. We drove to T-Mobile to return that one and get an HTC One, BB Maps couldn't find the store, after punching in the exactly address it searched for 10 minutes then finally found it, lost connection half way there, rebooted by itself, and there was at that point no argument to be made for the Z10. It turns out just fine, besides the restocking fee.
Compared to the HTC One the BlackBerry Z10 feels like an older device. That is ok with me, but what about the market in general? I don't feel like I can recommend this phone to anyone because 2 people have returned the device stating entirely legitimate "it isn't doing what my old phone did" concerns. There is nothing to argue with there, it's just true. Right now the platform is new, I get that, but does the average consumer? Nope.
This doesn't spell doom by any means, it's what every new platform goes through. There is a long way to go though. Anyone touting "We've arrived" should be promptly ignored. BlackBerry 10 has arrived, but whether it is here to stay or not is still being decided. I wouldn't recommend getting comfortable and allowing excuses to cloud your judgement or willingness to hold BlackBerry accountable. They need that, they needed it years ago when people were laughing at iOS and Android. Blackberry seems to be aware, or "eyes open" at least now. I think they've built a great OS, and the two people that returned the phone, both wished they could have kept it. The OS is fast and sleek and fun to use, but it isn't finished. I know updates are coming and even somewhat address some things that I have mentioned here and I'm on board. I'm not getting rid of my Z10, I just want it to be the only device I need. If we're stuck with BlackBerry Maps, then they need to get their act together with that service, it's awful. When I can use the Z10 as the only device I carry then I will strike this entire thread's text and change all the "likes" to "loves". I'm not there yet, and I knew I wouldn't be. I'm ok with growing pains. I was well aware there would be many.
Last edited by katiepea; 04-25-2013 at 08:59 PM.Thanked by 64:
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- 04-25-2013, 07:12 PM #2
Wow, very in-depth review, Katie.
Thanks for sharing.
I only skimmed since I have to run out soon. But I will definitely come back and read top to bottom later on.Saving the world, one OS at a time...
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- 04-25-2013, 07:19 PM #3
This has to be the best review for the Z10 on here, hands down.
Big thumbs up and hope that it gets more to your loving in the future!October 2006 - December 2008: Samsung 1310 Flip Phone->December 2008 - December 2009: BB Pearl 8100->December 2009 - March 2013: BB Curve 8520->March 2013 - August 2013: BB Curve 9300->(2013: Bricked 7290)->August 2013+: BB Z10!
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- 04-25-2013, 07:30 PM #6
Nice review Katie. I will say my BlackBerry maps has never dropped me and always gets me to my destination. That inconsistency is an issue though. I also like the email but I rarely go back more than 30 days. I agree it should be able to do that. I feel for your SO. That would drive me nuts. Hope they enjoy the HTC one. I've read its great.
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- CrackBerry Genius
04-25-2013, 07:44 PM #7
- 1,704 Posts
Thanks for sharing your experience and taking the time to do so... I really enjoy these write ups as I find standard reviews a bit dry ( except for Geller over at BGR )..... One common thread I have noticed with users trying to migrate from Andoid and Apple is how Apple and Google media consumption and email serivices tend to frustrate users coming over to BB... until you change platforms you really do not know how locked into it you actually are..... Had a friend who can from Apple but left in utter frustration with trying to access his itunes and mail services and icloud.... think it was part user and part software... something I think BB should really key on with future updates... which in the end will be the key as to whether BB10 makes it or not.... users coming over to not want to be bothered with glitches,,,, BB needs to address these in a timely manner... that being said.... we are dealing with a first gen device.....
- CrackBerry Addict
04-25-2013, 08:05 PM #8
- 846 Posts
So what I gather is:
OS is fast and fluid
You like BBM, BBM video and voice
Camera on par
Calendar sync on par
Hub is great
But for you, your s.o. and real estate agent friend the deal breaker was a poor experience with BlackBerry maps and no direct search feature in the email?
Sounds like a scapegoat to me.
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- CrackBerry Abuser
04-25-2013, 08:30 PM #10
- 322 Posts
Great review, I pretty much share the same sentiments with katie. Especially with the no brand loyalty, cause if you do have some you'll likely be blind and find no faults to the brand your loyal too. Instead of being truthful yourself.
BlackBerry maps does need to be improved on. I recently drove thru western Canada, that's over 24 hrs of driving in 2 days and it tried to give me wonky directions. It told me to make a turn couple times randomly when I knew I had to just drive straight. I chose to ignore those commands and it basically rerouted the way I was going. I also knew it was weird directions because I had Google maps browser open the whole trip to make sure and it gave me an overview.
So don't know if that's an updated map issue or something.
With that being said, I do hope BlackBerry does shows us z10 early adopters some love for giving them some faith with their new Os. Cause their os can sure use a polishing.
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- CrackBerry Addict
04-25-2013, 09:11 PM #11
- 846 Posts
I find it really hard to belive the z10 was searching for 10 minutes to find the tmobile store. In my experience, i have had no problems at all with finding addresses or turn by turn navigation. As for email addresses, did you try the contacts app? It pulls EVERYTHING from BBM, email, linkedin twitter. I even see people's degrees! I have contact information of people I have never emailed!
Anyway, I hope the Android 4.1 runtime will help with the porting issues. I have a lot of friends that say android 2.3 was a pos to begin with. That's why I don't bother side loading.
But you switched from android to BlackBerry for a reason. I'm sure your experiences with android weren't perfect either. May I ask what made you leave android?
Posted via CB10
there has been quite a leap forward with this, blackberry deserves recognition for making a great os, there is also quite a large space for improvement. merely adding email search past 30 days and fixing some hub issues would make a good device great, as these are constant pains for me. i didn't switch because i thought the z10 was the ultimate device, i got it because i wanted to experience a new OS, and that about sums it up. i really do like the z10, quite a bit, i just want a few things added so i can quit carrying multiple devices.
- 04-25-2013, 09:44 PM #13
Aside from no emails older than 30 days, I find it difficult to believe that you're using the same device. I really like the maps, and the turn by turn navigation has never steered me wrong.
Enjoy the Droid though. Whatever floats your boat.
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- 04-25-2013, 09:48 PM #14
Last edited by MartyMcfly; 04-25-2013 at 10:39 PM.
- 04-25-2013, 10:02 PM #15
Husband, I meant. If I were her, I'd go back to Droid. Sounds like an awful experience she's had. Much different from my own and from that of a couple of other former droid users I know.
Additionally, searching through the contents of emails works far better on the Z than it did on my S3. Once they sort the 30-day thing, there will be absolutely nothing to complain about with regard to email functionality.
I question the veracity of the review. Something smells.
Posted via CB10
You really shouldn't be advising anyone to do anything as this is horrible advice. What about searching through your emails is " far better " out of curiosity?
If I had a husband, I would have typed husband.
- 04-25-2013, 10:30 PM #18
I can't let this go. The "Unbiased" review is bull ****.
As for maps, I actually prefer them to Google Maps. The interface is different, but I love the way they steer me around traffic. Searching for a dry cleaner or Italian restaurant always brings up many options. My saved places are incredibly convenient -- finding my way home from anywhere has never been easier. Oh, and I am delighted to not have Google tracking my every move.
As for reliability of hardware, try using an S3 for a few months -- what a complete POS! Not only will you have to charge it up twice a day, but due to the cheap chipsets and icky software, you'll lag and freeze with great regularly. I don't know about other droid, but the S3 is truly a study in suckiness.
The clock is anything but rudimentary on the Z. It has a world clock that integrates with other apps. If you need multiple alarms, set up recurring events in your calendar. I mean, duh...
Oh, and the browser on the Z blows away any other mobile browser at the moment. The OP seems utterly clueless in her blas dismissal.
And let's talk about UI. What used to be a button click, a tap or two and a swipe is now just a swipe and maybe a tap. Further to that, I can get right back to what I was doing after answering an important message. Try racing a droid user at a specific multitask. Answer an incoming text while on a call, then Google something just for giggles. You'll finish minutes ahead of then in most cases.
I find it difficult to believe that the OP actually used the Z. There are too many tells. All three people I know (including myself) who came from droid are blown away by how far superior this thing is.
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- 04-25-2013, 10:37 PM #19Retired: 8703, 8130, 8330, 9630, 9800, 9900, PlayBook
Current: Z10, Nexus 5, iPad mini retina
- 04-25-2013, 10:48 PM #21
Just tested searching through content of emails by looking for a phrase that I knew was in an email I had received a couple weeks ago. Two letters into the second word, the email was right at the top of the list.
Anybody complaining about search has definitely not used this thing. For in-device searching, it's nothing short of astounding.
Posted via CB10
- 04-25-2013, 10:51 PM #22
Try again but for an email older than thirty days...that is what the OP stated.
Posted via CB10Be nice, it's free.
* Detailed maps with 3D buildings
* Voice guided turn-by-turn GPS navigation
* Driving, public transit, biking, and walking directions
* Live traffic information to avoid congestion
* Local search and business reviews
* Google Maps Street View
* Indoor maps for select airports, hotels, retail stores, and more
those are the main highlights google gives, and they don't even mention satellite view or interior maps(yes google maps offers maps of interior spaces now) if you prefer it better personally, that's your business, but from a purely functional perspective, they cannot be compared. blackberry maps doesn't even do landscape. you seem to think, still, that my review suggests i would prefer android to bb10, and as far as what function is available, it's true, i cannot only use my z10 alone yet. i still don't think after all this time, that you've read the post, if you did, you don't seem to be grasping what it is. i never said i wanted to use a samsung phone, so the mention of "what a pos" it is, is not only out of place, it's irrelevant. i don't want to nor have i owned a samsung device. i did make some suggestion of the htc one, and yes it is a faster phone, by quite a margin. as far as my alleged "dismisal" of the browser, i clearly stated that it's the best mobile browser in existence. further evidence that you didn't read the post. so i could sit here all night, and continue to tell you how wrong everything you've posted is in this thread, or you could just stop posting in it. as of right now i would be embarrassed to be you, because to be honest, your entire post, every point you've tried to make, is actually incorrect. you've actually done more comparing to android than i did in my entire post, and what you mention about android only goes to show that you haven't actually used android at all. what a sad display you've put on. your blackberry is tracking you also, as location based ads are an option, just as they are an option with android.
perhaps you should go have fun loving guys elsewhere, else you start responding to what i actually posted.
Last edited by katiepea; 04-25-2013 at 11:14 PM.
- CrackBerry Addict
04-25-2013, 11:03 PM #25
- 622 Posts
And the first Sensitive Sally has arrived.
Review was great. Appreciate the honesty and unbiased approach from a user that is talking about her own experiences.
Posted from my ZED10
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