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AT&T Blackberry Z10 Cell Phone Review

by Reviewboard MagazineJune 25, 2013

The AT&T Blackberry Z10 Cell Phone is an interesting device.  I have to admit I wanted to get on the bash wagon several times and join the rest of the sheep out there with my gripes and issues.  I realized after a few days with it that the gripes and issues are really about change than anything else.  At first glance you see what looks to be a “YAAD” (Yet another Android Device).  It really isn’t though, it’s Blackberry OS 10. It’s based on QNX which is a unix based operating system (just like Android) but it is not Android.  The problem is… it’s a lot like Android in many ways and because of that it sets unrealistic expectations at first glance.  It is purely psychological and if you can unhinge that desire to feel like you are on an android device, and keep your mind open to the Blackberry OS 10 you can have a much better experience.

That doesn’t sound like much of a sales pitch and it isn’t.  This is a review, and I could care less how many of these sell based on what I write.  The idea here is to get you the information you need to make a buying decision that you won’t regret.  I have to say that I can sum up everything in one sentence.  Here it is: “If you have been a Blackberry Fan/user for years, you will likely love this phone.”

For everyone else (Android/Apple/restofthepie) the Blackberry Z10 is going to take some getting used to.  It is different, the way you do things are different.  In this case different isn’t always better, but sometimes it is.  Messaging seems to be better on the Blackberry Z10 (over Android and Apple).  The User Interface is a hybrid between Android and Apple.  I wouldn’t call it better, but it contends mildly.  With Android and Apple phones you can figure out what you need to do without prior knowledge.  Sometimes it takes a few minutes but you can get there from here.  With the Blackberry Z10 you will find that more often than not you are looking up things… like how to make a phone call… Oh sure it is evident when you boot the phone, but if you get stuck in a few places (back buttons, option buttons, seem to be non-existent) it takes a few minutes to figure out how to get to the dialer and that kind of sucks.

The Blackberry Z10 needs to have a few buttons (soft or hard) to over-ride where you are in the logic path.  Without them it is easy to become lost in a maze of selections that do not have an obvious path back.  In fact, my single largest complaint is there is no home button.  That said it’s because everything is gesture based.

You swipe up to get to the task manager and swipe left to get to your app list (or home for a lack of a better place/name).  If you are somewhere and you can’t find your way out, you swipe up again and you will get a list of running applications.  You can close the apps by hitting the little x in the bottom right hand corner of the minimized version of the running app.  If you want to get to home from there you swipe left and the home screen appears.  From the lock button position you just swipe up and you get the app list (what I’ve been calling home).

The home screen isn’t really a home screen like you expect from an Android or iPhone.  There is no running widgets that give you wallpaper and various sized widgets you can fit on your home screen. Rather they use that task manager as a bit of a solution to that… It allows apps to have content on their minimized thumb in the task manager.  So you can have your weather app and clock app running… when you swipe up to see the task manager you will see weather content and the time from your clock app in addition to whatever else is running on the phone at the time.  When you swipe left you get the app list which is a set of icons for apps that you have currently installed on your Blackberry Z10.

In closing… I’m not a fan at all.  I can see why people would appreciate it if they are used to it.  The UI is too kludgy and I don’t like the limited app market (which I haven’t even mentioned in the review).  I honestly think it is a case of too little too late.  What I mean by that is I doubt at this pace Blackberry will ever be a real majority player in the global phone market again and I don’t see it growing its user base beyond the fans/users it already has.  Perhaps that is short sighted or harsh… I don’t know.  I do know that I would never own a Blackberry Z10, I do know I don’t care a lick for the Blackberry OS 10, and I do know it has nothing to do with the carrier AT&T.  Verizon, T-Mobile (and soon Sprint) all carry them.  Are a lot of people buying them? They are selling between 750,000 and 1 million units a month.  To put that in perspective Android phones shipped 162.1 million in Q1 of this year alone.  Apple shipped 37.4 Million Q1, but those numbers are down because everyone knows that Apple will be releasing their new phone in a few months and the people who are purchasing iPhones now are either not in the know or without a phone and need one now.

I give the Z10 a solid 2 stars out of 5.  If you are a Blackberry fan/user and you want to upgrade this is a sharp phone.  The Z10 is well constructed, sturdy, the screen is sharp and clean, and the phone does everything you would expect a phone to do.  My rating represents my personal subjective view of the Blackberry OS 10 and my dislike for it.  If the Z10 was running Android I would have loved it.  If you are not a Blackberry Fan I would stick to Android or wait for the iPhone 5s (or whatever they are going to call it).

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