BlackBerry Z10 review
By Al Sacco | CIO US | Published: 11:41, 31 January 2013
BlackBerry Z10 negatives
Z10 GPS/LBS gripes, camera complaints and more
I had a lot of issues with the Z10's location services and/or GPS even when I had full LTE coverage and I was outside. The problems I experienced could be software-related, because some apps seem to be able to use my location more effectively than others, but I'm not sure. Regardless, it was frustrating to get errors every other or every third time I tried to use an app or service that utilizes GPS or LBS.
The new BlackBerry Z10 has an eight MP rear camera and a two MP front-facing camera. In my experience, the rear-facing camera performs well outside in natural lighting but leaves something to be desired inside and in dimly-lit environments. It also seems to have issues with close-up shots in dim-to-moderately lit environments.
The Z10 has some cool, built-in image editing features that let you adjust brightness and white balance, and add filters and frames. But the device only has three shooting modes (normal, stabilization and burst) and four "scene" modes (auto; action; whiteboard; night; and beach and snow) compared to the dozens of shooting and scene modes you can use on the Galaxy SIII and other high-end smartphones.
The Z10's processor is dual core, and it runs at 1.5GHz. A number of comparable high-end smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy SIII and Note II have quad-core processors, so part of me feels like the Z10's hardware isn't equal to these devices in terms of processing power. But I didn't see any real performance issues with the dual-core processor in the Z10, so the device may simply not need a more beefy, quad-core chip.
I also would have liked to see RIM offer a few different storage capacities. The Z10 is currently only available in 16GB. I assume RIM made this decision to minimize production costs, but you can never have too much storage, and as is, the Z10 maxes out at 48GB, unless you carry multiple memory cards to swap them out.
RIM did away with the green cellular-coverage indicator LED in BlackBerry 10, and even though I'm probably one of only a dozen people in the world who actually used that feature, I miss it, and I wish the option was still there in the new OS. The Z10's LED indicator still blinks red when you have new notifications and orange when the battery is low, but it no longer blinks green or blue when Bluetooth devices are attached - at least not without some sort of third-party app.
The charging and HDMI-out ports are on the device's right side, and I'm partial to devices with the ports on the bottom because it can be awkward to hold the Z10 or talk on the phone while it's charging because of this port placement, especially if you're a south paw.
Finally, I don't like the name of this new device. The letter "Z" is pronounced "zed" in parts of Canada, Britain and elsewhere, and being a Canadian company, RIM decided to go with this pronunciation. But RIM's most challenging geographic area, and the area with the most potential, is the United States, where the letter is pronounced "zee."
I'm hoping RIM's US advertising campaign uses the American pronunciation, but if not, the name could be a turn off for some people. (I know I'm not the only one who thinks of the creepy deviant in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction when I hear the name "Zed," which conjures up violent images and probably isn't what RIM's going for.) This is obviously a minor complaint, but the name rubs me the wrong way. (UPDATE: Shortly after this review was posted, RIM announced that it will use the U.S. pronounciation of the letter "Z" in this market and the device will NOT be referred to as the "zed 10" in the United States.)
Few big-name apps for BlackBerry 10, buggy software and more
Back in August when RIM gave me an exclusive hands-on with the first two BlackBerry 10 devices, I wrote about how I was impressed with the hardware, but that the success of BlackBerry 10 would ultimately depend on applications and the app ecosystem. RIM knows this to be true, and it put a ton of effort into courting developers during the past year or so, holding BlackBerry "Jam Sessions" and application "portathons" around the world and even offering software makers monetary incentives for creating BlackBerry 10 apps.
Despite all of this, the current BlackBerry 10 application situation is disappointing. I'm frustrated with the overall selection of apps in BlackBerry World today. I'm disappointed in the quality of apps. And I'm disappointed because I was honestly expecting more.
To be fair, there are a lot of BlackBerry 10 apps and games available in BlackBerry World. Some of them seem cool, too. They're just not the apps I want or need, and I don't play games, at least not of the video variety.
When I got my Z10 review unit last week, RIM told me that the selection in BlackBerry World won't be representative of what will be available on launch day. RIM says it has a number of development partners who want to wait until the platform is officially launched before making their app announcements. RIM also told me that some of the apps it pre-installed on my device are still being worked on and will be updated before the official Z10 launch. (Specifically, it said Twitter and Facebook would be improved upon.) I took that into account, but I can only review what was given to me, and what I see is lacking.