Over the last few years I have jumped around on my smart phones. My smartphone history has gone iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and then I went to Android with LG Optimus 2X, Samsung Galaxy SIIX and now the biggest shift of all: BlackBerry Z10.
On the “Legal in Thailand” ski trip in February Tyler was showing off his Z10 and something about it looked appealing. I kept thinking about the phone for a few weeks after the trip and realized that even if I was getting it for better integration with my work email I was not doing anything on Android that I could live without, and at the end of the day I would still have a highly functional smartphone.
Two months have passed and here are some thoughts on the Z10.
The BlackBerry World app store is limited, but it’s growing as the Z10 is released in new countries and it’s important to remember that even the Apple and Android stores had humble beginnings too. The Z10 is new so developers may not see much benefit in building an app for the platform but as the Q10 and other BBOS10 capable devices are released this year the market penetration may increase, and so would the number of apps that are available.
The apps that do exist, and ones I use often (Twitter, Facebook) are basic but they suffice. If there are any applications missing from the store I can visit the mobile version of that website and accomplish what I wanted. I find that I don’t use many apps on my phone but if something can’t be found in the store I can sideload the Android application on to my phone. This is probably the biggest benefit so far, I have my favorite Android apps but improved battery life and a solid user experience.
With Android I got so obsessed with the latest ROM build that I was constantly flashing versions, reading about Nightlies and waiting for Jelly Bean integration in to the build of Cyanogenmod I was using. I couldn’t sit still, I was always breaking and fixing the phone.
I would go back to the stock version of the ROM, find something I hated and switch, and then switch again. I wasn’t happy in a world of customized ROMs and I think a part of my desire to switch to the Z10 was to prevent myself from worrying about this. I could have gotten a phone Google supported and pushed latest system builds too but the temptation would have been there to try something different.
The Z10 is unique because it has no physical buttons and operates entirely on gestures. These gestures took a few days to get used to, and some of the gestures are hidden away you may end up discovering a new shortcut or feature months after use. I no longer think about which way to swipe when going from Hub to applications or opening and closing applications. It is a very solid experience and I am amazed how quickly I have gotten used to no physical navigation buttons on the phone.
The camera on the phone still leaves something to be desired but with a few software updates the potential of the camera may be unleashed. There are minor issues like screenshots appearing in the Pictures application of my Work profile (instead of in my Personal profile). During charging at night the screen will turn on momentarily after it has reached a full charge and will repeat this process while it charges and discharges. My annoyances are minor but I have faith they will be improved over time.
I enjoy being able to ‘lock’ my work email and calendar so I don’t see this work information when I view the Hub and any new messages I have. I would like to have more customization over notifications, perhaps able to control what color the LED is for which email account. There is an app that does this but for $3 and needing to have the application open and running in order to work seems a bit much. I can wait until the application is able to run in the background or until a BBOS10 update that does these features natively, for now I can survive.
For a new OS and hardware this is a very solid experience. The first Android and iPhone had room for improvement and I think BlackBerry has done a really good job with this release. I like the feeling of being on the ground floor, plus supporting a Canadian company, and I hope that the company can gain some credibility that it lost over the years. BlackBerry may never be able to compete with behemoths like Samsung as they push for larger displays and bells and whistles, but for a functional device that keeps me connected to home and work the BlackBerry fits the bill and I hope others see that too.