March 5th marked month since the BlackBerry Z10 landed on Canadian soil. Canada was the second country (behind the UK) to get the device, and while it's still not available in the US, we have been able to manhandle it for a month. While our initial BlackBerry Z10 review remains true, we do have some more thoughts on things now that we've put it to the real-world test.
Leading up to the BlackBerry 10 launch and the release of the Z10, we were optimistic yet uncertain as to how things would pan out. Of course we wanted BlackBerry to succeed, but it was hard to judge just how well BlackBerry 10 would do with consumers. As it stands now, demand appears to have exceeded BlackBerry's expectations and that's not even counting the Z10's availability on AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in the US. The Z10 will arrive in the US soon and it will be an even better phone than the unit we initially reviewed.
On February 28th, BlackBerry rolled out its first software update for the Z10, which brought with it a number of power user friendly enhancements. The update targeted literally all of the gripes we had with the Z10 during our initial review. The camera now takes better low-light shots. Calendar issues have been addressed, and the Hub received improvements to improve the quality of the experience. The half-baked Bedside mode -- a personal pet peeve of mine -- is now fixed, allowing for phone calls to ring during the night while all other notifications are turned off.
Battery life has seen a drastic improvement on the Z10 following the 10.0.10.672 update
Most importantly, battery life has seen a drastic improvement on the Z10 following the 10.0.10.672 update. The Z10 received over 60 battery saving refinements in this OS update, and WOW, did they make a difference. The Z10 went from having battery life that was OK at best, to now having really impressive battery life. We're big users (obviously) and some days it takes a lot of use to even put a dent in the battery now, while prior to the update we'd be swapping batteries or topping up via the Z10 charging bundle by 3pm. Most initial Z10 reviews pointed out concerns with the Z10's battery life, which had us concerned that a lot of potential owners may be turned away from the phone for this reason. It's great to see just how fast and how well BlackBerry addressed the issue. Unless you're using the phone non-stop during the day you should be more than happy with the battery life at this point (if not, check out these Z10 battery saving tips).
One of the biggest signs of success for us is that none of the Crack Team have dual-wielded phones since the end of January (even Bla1ze!). We've said it before, but we love to stress that no longer do we feel any need to rock out with more than one device when we head out of the house to get a full mobile experience. The Z10 packs all of what we love and had hoped for into one package. The Z10 still offers that awesome communication experience that has always made our BlackBerry phones indispensable, and has filled in the blanks and then some on all of the things BlackBerry has been missing compared to the competition these last few years. There is definitely room for BlackBerry to keep refining and adding new features (10.1 anyone?) and there are definitely some specific apps we want to see come to the platform, but overall it's by far the best BlackBerry we have ever used and a compelling smartphone experience, especially for communication-centric individuals.
Without further ado, here's our personal thoughts on the BlackBerry Z10 after using it for a month.
There's a lot to love about the BlackBerry Z10 and every week I use the phone I grow to love it even more. On the hardware side, the Z10 continues to impress. I love the look and feel of the phone, as does everyone I show it to (including a lot of iPhone and Android owners). Prior to getting my Z10, I was convinced I would ultimately end up longing for the Q10 and its physical qwerty keyboard. After a month of use, that's just not the case - I am 100% sold on the BlackBerry 10 touchscreen typing experience. Let me say that again. I am 100% sold on the BlackBerry touchscreen typing experience. After the Storm and Storm 2, that's a sentence I never thought I would be able to write about BlackBerry... ever... but all is forgiven with the Z10!
Initially I felt less productive on the Z10 compared to my Bold 9900, but over the course of a month that feeling has completely reversed
Initially I felt less productive on the Z10 compared to my Bold 9900, but over the course of a month that feeling has completely reversed. Once you learn where everything is, the hub and flow experience of BB10 combined with the pure performance of the Z10's hardware allow you to get more done quicker. That said, it can be quicker still. A shortcut from the lock screen directly to the default Hub view would make me a happy camper, as would some additional gestures of shortcuts to allow me to churn through my inbox quicker.
With older BlackBerry phones you eventually accepted what they weren't capable of doing well and just used the phone for where it excelled. The Z10 has forced me to relearn what a BlackBerry is capable of doing. And the Z10 has proven to be a rock star at every task I throw its way.
I know everyone hates me for being in the US and already having a Z10 for a month, and I'm sorry. The good news is that it's amazing and well worth the wait. Only a few more weeks to go... and maybe less!
I know others will agree with me, and I can't stress enough how much I love my Z10. I only have one device to worry about and no longer need two (or more) phones when I head out. It's the platform I love and that makes it even better. Every day I'm amazed by what I can do with the device - from work to personal tasks - it really does have everything I need. I find myself getting around the OS with ease and never having that WTF moment where I want to toss it out the window.
The good news is that it's amazing and well worth the wait
The battery is great for me (the new OS update made it even better) and I really don't have many complaints. There are some things missing that I wish were there like custom profiles, but hopefully we can expect more updates down the road to bring in more features.
I also find myself gaming a lot more which is cool. I've never been big on games, partly because I always needed another device, but now on the Z10 gaming is awesome. Nuff said.
I've had the Z10 since the launch event in New York and previous to that I had been using a multitude of devices. My Galaxy Note II and iPhone 5 now sit on my desk uncharged, neglected and getting dusty. Sure, the apps on BlackBerry World for the Z10 aren't as plentiful as on other platforms but honestly, and I know it'll sound cliché, I find I don't really need them or there are optional replacements like the web browser that often times work better than the actual app. The apps will grow over time and it's all still very new.
My Galaxy Note II and iPhone 5 now sit on my desk uncharged, neglected and getting dusty
I'm not going to deny it, I've wondered a few times what the heck BlackBerry was thinking when they removed, never added, or replaced certain features, but there's nothing that makes me want to stop using my Z10 because of it. Plus, I know BlackBerry is paying attention to concerns and addressing them as soon as possible as we saw with the most recent OS update for the Z10. We may be on "v1.0" currently but BlackBerry is already ahead.
Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the BlackBerry Z10 all around. It's a great first device to introduce BlackBerry 10 and with the platform being all new, there is excitement for the things to come. Not only with future devices but future OS updates as well. I'm genuinely excited for BlackBerry and BlackBerry 10. It's the excitement I felt when I first held the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 being relived.
It really is great to be back to one phone again. The steady stream of new apps for the Z10 is keeping me interested in popping into BlackBerry World every day, and it's rare that I'll come out the other side without downloading something. I was affected by the calendar issue in the launch build of BlackBerry 10, but it's great to see things have been patched up so quickly. As for the keyboard, I'm still training it, and my performance is noticeably improving on a week-by-week basis.
As for the immediate future, I'm actually kind of pumped for the American launch. I'm sure plenty of developers are holding off for the U.S. availability of the Z10 before launching their apps, and that'll mean a great second wave of content to enjoy. EA, Halfbrick, and Madfinger, I'm looking in your direction.
In the longer run, I'm still eyeballing the Q10. I really miss my keyboard shortcuts (especially for jumping to the last unread message), and as nice as the BlackBerry 10 keyboard is, I'm still not as comfortable as I would be with real buttons under my thumbs.
The last six weeks for me have been smartphone heaven. The BlackBerry Z10 is not only my new best gaming friend but it has also increased my social networking interactions due to the BlackBerry Hub. The Hub is the best thing since sliced bread. It's official - there is no faster way to react to incoming notifications. It's all about the Hub for me. Did I mention I love the Hub?
I've loved the Z10 from the day I owned it. Especially the keyboard. And the Hub, there's no going back from the Hub. Just the simple fact you can peek from anywhere to check everything is awesome and makes everything so much better. Of course there are a few niggles with a brand new OS.
The latest update has addressed a few of those but there's still some ironing out to do. I relied heavily on Word Substitution before and it's not quite there as it was with BlackBerry OS. The Facebook and Twitter still need to be better and I really wish we could edit each individual notification like we can with BBOS. There are a few other things but those the main ones I'd like to see addressed first. But I love it!
Just one short month later and I'm still learning new and cool things on the BlackBerry Z10. From the way the BlackBerry Z10 powers up, to the way you can get the perfect photo every time with the Time Shift feature. The BlackBerry Z10 is truly a device that was made for today. The feature that I can't get enough of would the REAL multitasking. Because the BlackBerry Z10 runs on the QNX kernel it can do true multitasking, no faux multitasking like some of those other platforms. You know whom I'm talking about.
If there is one thing that I could say to a prospective BlackBerry Z10 owner, it would be to truly embrace the BlackBerry Flow. Don't pick and use it, pick it up and experience the all new, totally reinvented BlackBerry 10 experience.
The Z10 easily has one of the best touchscreen keyboards I've ever used
I'm two weeks in to Z10 ownership and so far, so good! The hardware is absolutely fantastic, and equally the OS is so pleasing to use day to day. I'm a big Android user (normally you'd find me as a regular contributor over at Android Central), and to say I spend a lot of time swiping up on my Nexus 4 whenever I still pick it up shows how the gesture stuff really has taken hold! I'm still not 100% on whether I'll defect to the Q10 and its full QWERTY, though the Z10 has easily one of the best touchscreen keyboards I have ever used.
The highest compliment from me -- I can leave the house for the day with just a BlackBerry again without feeling like I'm missing something. Get me Spotify and Netflix though and I'll be one extremely happy camper. Those are literally the only 2 apps I need right now.
The Z10 has been my primary phone for the last month now, and I am really enjoying the flow and peek experience. You know you are a BB10 fanatic when you start swiping up from the bottom on other phones and expecting something to happen.
I can care less about Instagram and Netflix, but Skype with Hub integration would be nice
The unified Hub works great, but the lack of toast-like notifications are annoying. The address book with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook integration is fantastic. App support is slowly improving - I can care less about Instagram and Netflix, but Skype with Hub integration would be nice. The platform is fairly easy to develop for, in the last two months I have written two apps for BlackBerry 10. If you own a Z10 you should definitely download CB10 - it's the best way to visit CrackBerry on your phone. And if you're driving a Tesla Model S, be sure to grab Model S for BlackBerry.
More Z10 Reviews...
Overall, we're a pretty happy and optimistic bunch right now. The first OS update took care of a lot of the minor gripes we had with the Z10 when we first reviewed it. And strolling through CrackBerry's Z10 forums and talking to Z10 owners IRL, there is a lot of enthusiasm and love for the phone. There are some rants too of course, which is to be expected (guess what? it happens about flagship Android phones and the iPhone in the forums on our sibling sites too), but the overall sentiment toward the Z10 has been extremely positive. There's still work to be done. There are still apps to bring onto the platform. There is no doubt that with the Z10 that BlackBerry is back in the race, and they've jumped off the blocks sprinting.