Converting to the BlackBerry Z10

Converting to the BlackBerry Z10

Apr 29, 2013

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the first BlackBerry Z10 phones to be available in South Africa.

As a new BlackBerry user, it was a completely different experience, as I didn’t have any history with the older BlackBerry devices.
However, this turned out to be a good thing as I realised just how user-friendly and intuitive the BlackBerry Z10 user interface is.

Fully touch-enabled, with just four hardware buttons, I was able to “learn” the user interface in just a day or so.

Out of the box, the BlackBerry Z10 is a very attractive phone. It’s thin and light, but looks sturdy – and I found it to be quite rugged and able to stand up to everyday use.

Getting started was little bit more complicated than most devices. You need to have a BlackBerry ID, but I was able to set this up easily from the phone without any additional connection required. You can also set this up from your PC if you prefer.

Once you’ve got your BlackBerry ID, you can access instant messaging and apps.

Regular BlackBerry users will want to retain access to their BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) service, and you can with the new device, keeping your contacts and conversations intact.

BlackBerry decided not to base their Z10 or upcoming Q10 phones on any of the existing operating systems, but built their own BlackBerry 10 platform from scratch.

One of the major innovations in this platform is the BlackBerry Hub. This is a single place where you can integrate all of your messages and communications – regardless of the application they originate in – and you can interface with them.

So you can look at your Facebook updates, respond to messages and access your status right from the Hub, without having to open Facebook. The same goes for Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, WhatsApp and BBM, of course.

In addition, all the features and apps that you want to access on the BlackBerry are available in just one swipe from the Hub.

This means, for the first time, I can literally have all of my communications on one device and in one easy-to-access place – no more switching between apps, or swopping devices.

On the subject of messaging, typing is always an issue on these handheld devices.

While the BlackBerry Z10 gives you a good-size keyboard to work with – either landscape or portrait – it’s still very easy to make mistakes.

And predictive text can make the problem worse, as we’ve all discovered at some point.

BlackBerry has come up with an innovative solution to both these issues, with “flip typing”, where suggestions for words appear and you can select the correct one. Importantly, the Z10 learns from your actions and becomes more intuitive as you use the device.

Nowadays, your phone is also your camera, and users want to be able to access it quickly and easily. The Z10 allows you to do this without having to unlock the phone to use the camera.

The camera includes a great feature called Time Shift, which essentially takes a video in slow-motion and then lets you select the best still shot from that timeframe.

The BlackBerry World app store is available to all BlackBerry users. Apps for the Z10 have been designed from scratch for the BlackBerry 10 platform.

This means that some popular apps weren’t available at launch, but developers are quickly catching up and most of the best-loved apps, like WhatsApp, are now available on the device.

The apps are easy to download. There is an option to charge the apps to your phone account, although some of the service providers are still working on enabling this feature.

At the time of going to press, paid-for apps still need a credit card or PayPal account, but I was assured that the option to charge my phone account or access my pre-paid balance will be available soon.

The Z10 has a large, 4,2-inch high-definition screen, but it’s still limited to what you can fit into your hand. If you want something bigger, you can plug the Z10 into your television using the HDMI port and view photos and videos on the big screen.

And, if you have a wireless smart TV, you don’t even need the HDMI interface.

With so many other features available, it’s hard to remember that the Z10 is actually a phone – and it functions well in this role too.
Simply access the phone via the on-screen icon, select the “contacts” shortcut and you’re ready to call anyone.

Sound clarity is good and, unlike many smartphones, you won’t accidentally cut off you calls by touching buttons while speaking into the phone.
The speakerphone is easy to use and clear, with little distortion.

Sound quality overall is good. I downloaded a fabulous app that gives me access to 16 000 radio stations around the world and I was able to play a wide selection of them easily, with great sound.

On a personal note, I am physically disabled, and I found the ability to use the Z10 with one hand a huge bonus. Obviously this feature would suit all users, as it would allow them to multi-task easily.

Users should also note that there have been a number of software updates since the launch. I suggest that you implement these changes to get the best from this device.

One of them addresses what used to be a problem with the battery overheating – it still gets warm, but nowhere near as hot as it did when it was first released.

Overall, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed using the BlackBerry Z10, and would find it hard to go back to a less user-friendly and intuitive device.

–       Reviewed by Allan Davison