We’ve been playing with the BlackBerry Z10 for the past few days and we’ll be updating this review over the coming weeks with more in-depth findings.
Usually when a manufacturer launches its flagship smartphone it’s looking to show off its latest technological advances with eyes set on raking in cash – with the BlackBerry Z10 however the stakes are quite different.
The BlackBerry Z10 is the first handset from the company formerly known as RIM, now rechristened BlackBerry, to run its new operating system BlackBerry 10, and there’s much more on the line here than just simply making a few bob – arguably the company’s survival rests on the success of this device.
It’s no secret that BlackBerry has been on the rocks for the past year or so, with the company even admitting that it hasn’t been in the best shape of late, and the 4G toting Z10 is the start of what is hoped to be a successful revolution.
The BlackBerry Z10 is already available to buy in the UK with the handset free on contracts starting at £36 per month, while you’ll need to fork out around £480 if you want it SIM-free.
Meanwhile over in the US the BlackBerry Z10 release date is yet to be finalised, with March the only information we have to go on for now and Verizon has already announced it will be available for $199.99 on contract.
Sporting a 4.2-inch 1280 x 768 display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and it’s steep price tag the BlackBerry Z10 finds itself jostling for position with the Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5.
Lock eyes on the BlackBerry Z10 and you’ll notice it’s an unassuming slab of black glass and plastic which mimics the general aesthetical design of many a smartphone these days.
The Z10 is a little bezel heavy with a sizable gap above and below the screen, and that’s before we even get to the additional plastic chunks stuck on both ends of the handset.
It all seems a little unnecessary but luckily it doesn’t make the BlackBerry Z10 overly cumbersome, with the handset measuring a comfortable 130 x 65.6 x 9mm.
Weight wise the BlackBerry Z10 finds a happy medium – it’s no where near as heavy as the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, yet it’s not as feather light as the iPhone 5.
The weight gives it a reassuring presence in the palm and while the chassis is distinctly plastic, the handset’s heft at least restores some form of premium feel.
Round the back you’re greeted with a textured plastic rear which is slightly rubberised, providing a decent level of grip.
There are only a couple of things to note on the back of the Z10, the 8MP camera with a single LED flash is sat in the top left corner and the shiny metallic BlackBerry logo is in middle.
We were pleased to find that the rear can be removed easily by placing a finger in the indented speaker grill at the base of the Z10 allowing us to simply peel off the plastic.
Underneath you’ll find microSIM and microSD slots with the latter capable of supporting cards up to 32GB, although we’ve been told that a future update may see this support boosted to the 64GB variants.
This means you can build nicely on the already decent 16GB of internal storage which will appeal to many who have been put out by the likes of the iPhone range and HTC One X+ which don’t offer storage expansion.
An added boon is the removable 1,800mAh battery allowing you to switch out a dead battery for a fully charged one if you’re someone who likes to carry multiple powers pack around.
On the rear cover itself you’ll notice the NFC pad which allows the BlackBerry Z10 to interact with other enabled devices wirelesses.
On the right hand side of the Z10 anyone familiar with the BlackBerry PlayBook will instantly recognise the triple button setup, with volume rocker switches separated by a central key – used for playing/pausing music and activating voice control when held down.
Up top you get a centralised power/lock key next to a 3.5mm headphone jack, while on the left there’s a couple of handy connectivity ports.
The metal finish of the keys gives the handset a touch of class and all are well positioned, allowing us to reach them easily when using the Z10 one handed.
The now standard micro USB port which features on pretty much every phone these days bar the iPhone is present alongside a mini HDMI port – allowing you to connect the BlackBerry Z10 directly to a TV for big screen viewing.
There’s no HDMI cable in the box so you’ll need to pick one up separately, but there is at least a USB cable so you can hook the Z10 up to your computer.
The BlackBerry Z10 doesn’t wow us with a new design, but it’s a sturdy handset with a decent build quality and functional layout which makes it easy to use.