NEW DELHI: RIM, which changed its name to BlackBerry on Wednesday, is trying to get back in the smartphone game with BlackBerry Z10. While the device is expected to come to India next month, we tried the beta unit of the handset in Delhi. We will have the review of the device and BlackBerry 10, a mobile operating system that will compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, when Z10 launches in India. But for now we can share our first impression of the phone.
In terms of size and dimensions, Z10 is a compact device. With a screen size of 4.2-inches it is closer to iPhone 5 in size and is easily dwarfed by the big high-end Android phones. However, this is not necessarily bad. In fact, the size makes Z10 pretty easy use with single hand. The relatively smaller size also means Z10 is quite lightweight.
Unlike some other high-end phones, most notably iPhone 5, BlackBerry Z10 uses a body made of plastic. However, it has a matte finish and does not look cheap the way a few Android phones do. The finish is top notch. With just three physical buttons – power on top, volume up and down on the right side, Z10 has a clean design.
The device is powered by a dual-core processor running at 1.5GHz. It has a 8 mega pixels primary camera and a screen resolution of 1280×768 pixels.
The real story with BlackBerry Z10 is the new operating system. In many ways it is going to be quite familiar to anyone who has used a smartphone before. There are apps with their icons and click them work with them. There is a notification hub. There is multitasking. And almost everything else that we take granted with a smartphone. But at the same time, BlackBerry has given its own twist to these features, creating an operating system that feels distinctly different from iOS or Android.
The secret ingredient in BlackBerry 10 OS is the use of gestures and how these gestures allow user to access various functions in the phone. From unlocking the device with a swipe towards top from the bottom of the screen to using the left to right swipe to access BlackBerry Hub – a name for the unified notification centre – gestures play a big role in the new OS. The gestures may seem little complex to some users. For example, swiping left to right at the bottom of the screen gives a different option compared to swiping left to right at the middle of the screen. Similarly, swiping down from the top bezel brings up different options compared to swiping down from the top of the screen. Yes, it is subtle difference. But once you have spent some time with the device, it is easy to get used to the gestures.
BlackBerry claims its new OS is no-compromise operating software. From our limited time with the device we get the same impression. The lockscreen notifications are present. There is a quick access to settings. Multi-tasking is similar to how it works on computers and even if an app is in the background, it doesn’t stop. There is Siri-like functinality in BB10 OS and users can dial number with voice commands. A lot of big-name apps are already available.
Another key highlight of the BB10 OS is its integration with social networking websites and communication apps. This means BB Hub is the place where most of the action happens. It seems intuitive enough but we will reserve our verdict on it until we can spend some more time with the device.
Overall Z10 looks good. Of course, we need to dive deeper into the OS and wait for the device to launch in India before we can compare it to the industry leaders like Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5. There are many unknowns about Z10. While multitasking is good, we need to see what kind of impact it has on battery. Similarly, we need to look at the quality of camera, the new video calling and voice messaging features of BBM, quality of screen, quality of calls, availability of apps, geo-location services like navigation and maps, and most importantly, the price before we can tell you if it is worth buying or not.