Feature Article

February 01, 2013

First Look at the BlackBerry Z10

When you pick up the BlackBerry Z10 and hold it in your hand, there is only one word that you can use to describe it. It is a very “cool” phone. The first thing that you will notice is how light it feels. Even with the 1800mAH battery the BB Z10 is about one ounce less than my BB Torch. It may not sound like much, but when you are holding the phone in your hand for a while, you will learn to appreciate it.

One of the first things that Thorsten Heins, BlackBerry’s CEO, said on Wednesday is “It feels good in your hand. We have included a textured back that will not slip off your hand.” I held the BB Z10 in my hand and I had to hold it past a 45 degree angle before it started to slide off and I actually had to grip it. It even has a flat soft texture so it doesn’t dig into your hand, it simply stays put.

In fact, you no longer need to find that spot at the top middle of the back plate in order to open it. The back piece now snaps into place. You pry it open from the bottom and literally peel it up. Once you’ve done this, you may think, “Oh, what a flimsy piece of plastic.” However, what you will notice is that it is very thin and flexible with a lot of give when it is off, but once you put the cover back on, it is a solid flat back. The back of the phone is designed so that the battery and card slots form a flat back giving the back plate a solid feel to it.

The phone has four dedicated keys. On the top right side of the phone, you have the volume up and down and in between these is a mute key. Located on top at the center is the lock key, which is also used to power the BB Z10 on or off. Next to the lock key is a 3.25mm jack that can be used for a headset of speakers. On the left side, about half way down is a micro HDMI port. You can use this to connect the phone to either an HDTV or even a projector and view your images and videos on the big screen. Just below that is the mini USB 2.0 high speed port.

What is very nice is that BlackBerry did not change the USB port type. They kept the same mini port that is on the older phones. This mean that when you decide to upgrade, you don’t have to throw all the old chargers out, you will simply get another one. The charger is also well designed with a USB cable that can go straight to the computer or you can use the plug that connects to the USB connector.

The BB Z10 is using a Dual Core 1.5 GHz to power it. It has two GB of RAM and 16GB of Flash memory as a base standard. There is also a removable memory card slot which will support up to an additional 64GB. You would have to take a lot of long videos to fill up that much memory.

The gentleman that I was speaking to in the display booth told me that he saved everything, videos, music, photos, and messages and still had almost half of the memory available. And this was just using the standard 16GB flash memory. He also told me that using the phone all day long the battery lasted from 7 a.m. until about 8 or 9 p.m. The battery is listed as giving you up to 10 hours of talk time on a 3G network with 13 days of standby time. BlackBerry decided to go with the larger 1800mAH battery and kept it as a removable battery. The battery is long, thin and very light. What it adds to the phone in terms of weight is unnoticeable.

The back sports the same camera and flash that everyone is familiar with. This time, the two are closer together. It is an eight megapixel auto-focus camera with a five element F2.2 lens and a dedicated image signal processor (ISP) with a 64MB frame buffer. It has a continuous flash and touch to focus image stabilization. The BB Z10 uses an enhanced super resolution digital zoom with five times magnification. The video recorder uses 1080p HD video in addition to time shift mode for pinpointing and adjusting individual elements of your picture.

Once you’ve taken a still photo, which you can take by simply tapping anywhere on the screen, you can utilize a function that will allow you to basically use a clock to travel back in time to find the facial expression that you want and with another simple click you can replace the face. You can do this for all the facial images in the picture.

What is new to the BB Z10 is a front camera. It is a two megapixel, fixed-focused camera. It has image and video stabilization with three times digital zoom and 720p HD video recording quality. This camera is meant to be used with BlackBerry Messenger for video chatting.

The BB Z10 4G phone comes ready to be used with up to 4G LTE, quad band LTE 2, 5, 4, 17 (700/850/1700/1900 MHz), tri band HSPA+ 1, 2, 5/6 (850/1900/2100 MHz), quad band HSPA+ 1, 2, 4, 5/6, (850/1700/1900/2100 MHz) and quad band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz). For Wi-Fi options, you have 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz / 5 GHz and the phone can be used as 4G mobile hotspot. It will be able to support up to eight devices.

A great new feature is the ability to use Near Field Communications (NFC). This enables you to create a video or slide show on your phone, and by holding your phone next to any other NFC capable phone you can copy the information to that phone. You do this with a simple tap of your finger.

The phone itself is 5.12 inches high by 2.58 inches wide by 0.35 inches deep. It weighs in at 4.85 ounces. The Z10 model does not have a physical keyboard as it is an all touch screen phone. BlackBerry has kept the white keys on black background that everyone who uses a BlackBerry is familiar with. The keys are large enough to use comfortably without hitting two or three keys at once. I have always used my left thumb to type away on my BB Torch keyboard. I always slide the top up and use the physical keyboard. Most people use both hands to type, but BlackBerry is hoping that people will get comfortable using only one hand to operate the phone. One of its goals is to make it a one handed phone by using your thumb to slide through the screens leaving your other hand free.

The screen is a very nice, very sharp and has a clear 4.2 inch diagonal display with a 15:9 aspect ratio. The images on the display look incredible. One of the reasons that the images are so crisp and clean is that BlackBerry decided to go with a super thin glass instead of plastic. The images really do stand out on the display.

Thorsten Heins said that BlackBerry decided to rebuild BlackBerry 10 from the ground up and they certainly achieved that. There are a lot of great features in this phone. It feels very good when you are holding it. The Q10 with a physical keyboard has all of the same features except that the display size is only 3.5 inches. Heins said that they found that some people do not want to lose the keyboard because they are too comfortable with it. Listening, instead of making a complete change, BlackBerry created two new models, the Z10 and Q10.

My only complaint is that while I have the Z10 in my hand, unfortunately my service provider will not be offering the phone until March. That means that while I can hold it and turn it on, I cannot use my great looking and feeling phone until my birthday. I’m looking at this as a great pre-birthday present from BlackBerry, but like every present, you want to rip open the packaging and play with it.

BlackBerry has a very nice accessory worth mentioning here. The company has created a plastic case that holds an extra full size battery. Once the battery is in the case, it can be charged but what’s really sweet is that if the battery on your Z10 or Q10 is about to die, you can use the mini USB port to connect the battery and you will have the use of a fully charged battery without the need of swapping out batteries.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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