If you haven’t heard already, Blackberry (formally known as RIM) has released their latest product, the Blackberry Z10 running on the new Blackberry 10 operating system (OS). As many of you know, I love my toys and was at the store the first day to get my hands on this new phone.
I am impressed with what the Z10 has to offer. This is one of the biggest changes and improvement to come to Blackberry’s since entering the smartphone race. They took a lot of what they had learned from the Torch and what they’ve seen trending in the industry to come out with a truly solid product.
So what’s new in the Blackberry Z10 and Blackberry 10 OS?
The Blackberry 10 introduces this concept of the “HUB”. Basically it’s a central gathering place for critical information that sits quietly on the left side. Whenever you need to take a look at what’s going on, you can simply swipe across and see without having to leave your current application. In my HUB, I have my emails, BBMs, text messages, Facebook, LinkedIN, and Twitter accounts. Thus in a second I can tell exactly which has activity, how many and can click into the application from the HUB.
Intuitive Typing that works!
One thing that smartphones are notorious for is poor intuitive typing. Anyone who has ever tried to use iPhones or Android devices find themselves either turning off or constantly correcting the auto-correct phrases. Just Google “bad iPhone text messages” and you’ll find countless examples.
Blackberry did an intelligent change to the whole intuitive typing. It still tries to guess what you’re typing but it does not automatically place the word into the text for you. Instead, you have the option to swipe a letter on the screen to select which word you would like. This takes a bit of getting used to but a definite improvement. And if you don’t like the swipe method, just keep typing. When Blackberry is fairly certain it knows your selection, the word will appear in place of the spacebar. So just hit spacebar and it will complete the word for you.
Navigation is far smoother than in previous versions of Blackberry. The screen models much of what they introduced already with the Torch but goes the next step to make it even easier. In many ways, they model it after a normal computer screen with the ability to see the open applications one a single screen.
Massively improved camera
One of the biggest sore points of many older Blackberry users is the lack of a decent camera. Even at its best version, pictures came out noisy and hard to use in any situation. Comparatively, I’ve used my Galaxy to capture videos that rival the best HD cameras out there. Blackberry’s excuse has always been that its focus is more about business than taking pictures. But carrying around more than one phone at a time is cumbersome and frustrating, especially when the ONLY reason you have the other phone is to take pictures.
With this release, Blackberry really listened. They not only improved the quality of the camera, they added a new “time-lapse” picture feature. This has to be one of the BEST features for cameras and I highly expect to see iPhones and Android’s following suit shortly.
The “time-lapse” picture allows you to take a series of 10 pictures rather than just one. Now, you no longer have to struggle with the painful delay of waiting for the phone to “click” and take the picture. No more blurry pictures of kids as you try to capture them at the right moment. Just use the time-lapse picture feature and pick which image you like best.
Out of the box, Blackberry features some very slick voice integration. You can command the phone to, say, BBM a person on your contact and record what you say into a text message. While not perfect, especially if you’re in a noisy situation or have a thick accent, it definitely expands the functionality of the phone as a hands-free device.
One of the major issues of the touch-screen versions of earlier Blackberry versions is that you had to press your face against the screen to ever hope to hear or speak to the person you’re calling. And for some odd reason, when that happens everyone ends up hitting the MUTE button. The new phone has a much better microphone that doesn’t require you hold the device as close to your face in order to pick up what you’re saying. In addition, they redesigned the phone interface to prevent accidental MUTE or key presses.
No more BES Plan needed
Before Blackberry 10, you had to purchase a special Blackberry Enterprise Service (BES) plan in order to add full wireless synchronization and activation. With Blackberry 10, however, you will be using Microsoft Active Sync, thus requiring only a standard data plan.
Other slick Out-of-the-Box Features That Make Business Possible
True to its roots, Blackberry hasn’t forgotten that first and foremost their most loyal customers are business people. Out of the box, you have connections to Docs to Go for access to your Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files. You’re given a connection to Dropbox, which allows you to easily transfer large files. The video BBM is also a very handy tool for one to one video conferencing. You can also share the desktop of the phone to another person over BBM.
With Blackberry Balance, you have the ability to setup your screen that allows you to separate your personal and business data. Blackberry is also the ONLY mobile solution to have received FIPS 140-2 security certification. So you have a level of security with your critical business information.
No keyboard… yet
The first release of the new Blackberry line is their fully touch-screen model. As such, there is no keyboard for those diehard keyboard users. I must admit, I’m one of those that would have preferred a keyboard. I can type way faster with my old Blackberry. It’s a small sacrifice for now and they are set to bring about a keyboard version of the phone in April.
Poor low-light video
Supposedly some reports have stated that under low-light conditions, the Z10 camera could use a lot of improvements. As I haven’t had a fireworks show yet since the Z10 release, I can’t say for certain if this is true. But you can guarantee I will be testing it out very shortly and comparing the results to my Galaxy. So far in daylight or lighted room situations, the camera captures perfectly and looks crisp and clear.
So overall, am I happy with my newest toy?
You bet! This is a great phone and a great OS upgrade. If you’d like to see the phone in action, just ask me next time I’m in your office and I’d be happy to show it off.