The Blackberry Z10, So much right, so much wrong…

I’ve been using a blackberry Z10 as my main phone for about 2 weeks now, having used the Dev Alpha B for a few months before that, and I’ve pretty much made up my mind about it. My previous phone was a Galaxy Nexus, so that’s what I’ll be comparing it to mostly.

Hardware:

The good:

  • The button-less face is excellent. I’ve already forgotten how to unlock other phones.
  • Nice high res screen.
  • Decent performance (only ever really noticeable when playing 3D games, which run well).
  • Decent battery life, I get a day’s heavy use out of it without issue.
  • The back cover is nice and grippy, you can stick it on a dash and it won’t slide around (if you drive carefully).
  • The camera is excellent.

The bad:

  • The screen is kinda small.. Not iPhone small, that would be ridiculous, but it’s smaller than my GNex, even though the phone its self isn’t any smaller.
  • Looks like an iPhone. While this will help BB steal iPhone users, it makes me slightly embarrassed to be seen with it. I don’t see how they could not get sued by Apple, it actually is very similar, unlike previous phones that were a ‘copy’. It’s quite boring to look at.
  • The volume buttons feel cheap, and I don’t really know what the middle button is for.
  • The plugs are on the side. This is sometimes a good thing, but mostly it looks weird.
  • It has pulg*s*. It doesn’t need a HDMI out, the phone isn’t being pushed as a media device, so why dedicate an ugly port to it?
  • The ports are positioned weirdly, mostly on the body of the phone, but partly into the back cover.

Software:

the good:

  • The browser. It is the best. Ever. Literally nothing else is as good. Chome for desktop? Excellent, still not as good as the BB browser. I’m not kidding, it is better than Chrome, for both viewing and developing web applications.
  • Cascades (or whatever) is awesome. Once you swipe things around on this phone, you can’t help but accidentally swipe other phones, usually resulting in Google now. Something came in to the phone? Slide up, hold, slide to the side if you want a preview of the notification.
  • App-specific notifications. OMG they are awesome. Something happened in an app? Red icon. Something happened in an app in a folder? Red icon. Give the engineer who came up with this a raise, I love it.
  • the Hub is great, no matter what happened, it can always be found in the hub.
  • The app switcher is really fluid for switching between 2 apps.
  • The word flicking keyboard is a good idea.

the bad:

  • The apps. There aren’t enough. This should seem like an obvious, unavoidable issue, as with any new phone, but this phone should be an exception. Blackberry does not leverage their browser enough. Why isn’t there a way to turn any website into a chrome-less app?
  • Maps. They suck. Practically unusable. The app lags all the time. Why the hell would they not just use Google maps?
  • The phone has crashed probably 30 times since I’ve had it. At least once a day, but I have a feeling its probably more often than I realise.
  • Apps cannot run in the background. This is a big issue as it stops apps like llama (for android) working, which is a big issue because the phone is never in the right profile.
  • The phone is never in the right profile (like I just said). It is constantly going off when you don’t want it to, and never ringing when you need it to. This is because I don’t manually change the profile, because I am a human and any ‘smart’ phone should do this for me.
  • The keyboard needs the long-press-for-symbols feature that android has. Things like question marks shouldn’t be difficult to input.
  • It has a shit lock-screen. The only option is a password. Patterns people!

Development:

the good:

  • The browser, as mentioned, is amazing. The development experience is not just bearable, but actually BETTER than Chrome for desktop! The profile tab has better info than Chrome. Apps run fast, every feature you could want is available.
  • Native development: who cares, this is 2013.

the bad:

  • Java. Seriously? you need Java to create a web-app for this phone? Why? BB really needs to improve the tooling around turning web-apps into BB apps.

In summary, I really like some of the ideas that went into this phone, but I don’t think I can live with it. The few apps it does have are either crippled by the lack of OS support, or are just not very good. An example: Google talk lets you have only 1 account, and it notifies you of messages, even when you are using another device to converse with your contact. There is no Google latitude.

I realise that some will say “Well just make the missing apps yourself!” which is true, I could, and probably should do this, but I just don’t have the time.

Should you buy it?

If you are a previous BB user you will probably love it.

If you are a previous iPhone user you will probably hate it for the wrong reasons

If you are a previous Android user you will probably love some of the features, then get annoyed with the lack of applications.

Personally, I’m torn, If i go back to android, I will miss some of the amazingly good features like swipe to  unlock, swipe to notifications, and swipe to do pretty much anything. I will miss the excellent browser. That said the maps, lack of apps, Google talk, and frequent crashes are really getting to me..

Basically…. I lied; I’m not sure yet.

A BB/Android blend would be the perfect phone.

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