BlackBerry Z10 review
You might think that would help battery life, but when we came to testing this aspect of the Z10’s performance, we were underwhelmed. The phone has a 1,800mAh capacity rechargeable lithium-ion unit under the plastic rear cover, which gave 60% remaining on the gauge after 24 hours in which we carried out a number of tasks, designed to simulate a light workload (a 50MB download, an hour of screen-on time, an hour of audio playback and a 30-minute phone call, with a single Gmail account syncing for the rest of the time). That’s about average for a modern smartphone in this test – better than the Samung Galaxy S III and Nokia Lumia 920; level with the iPhone 5; and behind the Razr Maxx and Samsung Galaxy Note II.
The camera is passable. In low light, photos exhibited much more noise than the same scene snapped on an iPhone 5. We found autofocus unreliable, and ended up with a lot of soft, blurry images after a few days using the phone. On the other hand, in better lighting, and when you do manage to get the focus bang on, the results look perfectly acceptable – well exposed, with natural colours and a decent amount of detail.
There are some fun features to play around with in the camera app, the best of which is the Time Shift feature. Switch this mode on, and the camera will snap a sequence of shots, after which it allows you to choose a frame using a slider to scrub back and forth through the sequence.
There’s also a selection of filters that can be applied to both stills and video, while the Story Maker app lets you put together a quick video montage of clips and photos, complete with backing music and titles. It’s all wholesome fun, although you don’t get a great deal of control.
BlackBerry 10 gestures and front-end
The hardware, then, is a mix of the good and the bad; the software it’s running is a very much more consistent affair. In fact, considering this has been built from the ground up, it feels remarkably mature. It isn’t the features, though, nor the look of the interface that grabs the attention first – it’s how BlackBerry has implemented the touchscreen gestures.
Like the PlayBook, and also Windows 8, the Z10 makes extensive use of edge-swipes to access key features. With the phone in standby, you can swipe up to unlock the phone. From the lockscreen, a swipe down from the top edge puts the phone into bedside mode. A single swipe from the bottom of the screen in any app takes you back to a multitasking view, where you can switch apps, dismiss them with a tap, or swipe right to left to access the app-launcher view.
Finally, and most usefully of all, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen in any app to take a quick peek at your messages and then, if you wish, keep your finger on the screen and swipe right to access the BlackBerry Hub.
The BlackBerry Hub
These gestures sound simple, but they make the BlackBerry Z10 feel different to use than the average smartphone, and once we’d got the hang of them they felt just right. It’s also nice, for once, to have a phone that puts messaging at the heart of the OS.
The Hub is always a gesture away, whatever you happen to be doing, whether that’s using the up-then-right swipe, or a simple left-right swipe from the multitasking view. And once you’ve brought it up, the Hub works extremely efficiently as a place for gathering all of your communications together.
|Cheapest price on contract||Free|
|Contract monthly charge||£31|
|Contract period||24 months|
|Dimensions||66 x 9.3 x 130mm (WDH)|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
|Resolution||768 x 1280|
Other wireless standards