BlackBerry Z10 Review: Part 3 – Apps, BBM & BlackBerry Balance
In the first part of our BlackBerry Z10 review we took a look at the Hardware and Camera on the BlackBerry Z10 and in the second part, we took an in depth review in to BlackBerry 10, the brand new operating system that will power the new line of BlackBerry phones. In the final part, we take a look at what else BB10 has to offer, the app situation on BB10 as well as the performance of the BlackBerry Z10.
BlackBerry World – The App Situation
Unfortunately this is the one section where BlackBerry10 really falters. BlackBerry World, is the store where you can get apps, music and movies – the vast majority of which are available at a premium. At present there are no movies for offer in the Indian store. There is shortage of apps overall, and if you are moving from iOS or Android, you are not going to find your favorite apps and at the present time will not even be able to find replacement apps. Most of the apps are paid apps so keep that credit card number handy. We did like the fact the prices were displayed in Indian rupees and were rounded off. If you do buy a Z10 you will have to wait it out while apps start appearing in the store. The music on the store has been priced very competitively.
The traditional BBM is present on BB10, unlike the Playbook where it went missing. It has a couple of new features, and apart from voice calls which was added in a BB7 update, it gets support for video calls over data networks. Video chats are only possible with people also using BB10. There is also a new screen-sharing function. BBM is integrated into the BlackBerry Hub, so you can send and receive messages directly from there. BlackBerry has also done away with the BBPin system in BB10, and one adds users with email addresses. If you are moving from an older BlackBerry device it imports all your contacts associated with your BlackBerry ID.
BlackBerry Balance is a feature of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that allows IT administrators to deploy, secure and remove specific applications and data on BlackBerry smartphones. It has been implemented in a new way on BB10 devices. The phone is partitioned on the OS level itself, so there is a work space and a personal space. When BlackBerry Balance is activated, one just has to swipe down from the top of the phone and enter a password to enter the work space. IT admins can choose what apps can be installed in the workspace. Text and other data from the workspace section cannot be copied into the personal space. Also the active frames of a work-space related app will be displayed with a briefcase and will be blackened out so as to protect confidentiality. We found the implementation of BlackBerry Balance to be excellent in a demo we saw and can say that with a BB10 device one will not need to carry a separate device for work and a separate one for personal stuff.
BlackBerry Protect once enabled allows you to locate your phone if you ever lose it. Once the service is enabled the phone can be located by using a BlackBerry-hosted website, which offers the ability to view the phone’s current location, make it play a sound or display a message. One can also remotely lock or even wipe the device.
Performance & Battery Life
The phone performs everyday tasks very well. There is almost no lag while using the device. The phone does take time to come on and one also needs to hold the power button for 3 seconds to switch it off. The camera switches on quite fast and pictures can be clicked continuously without waiting too long for it to process.
The active frames work very well and opening an app from its active frame is almost instantaneous and the app picks up from where it left off.
When we tried to play a 720p video, the phone faced no issues. We did not find that the device got warm often. Games also ran very smoothly, but unfortunately there are not too many graphic intensive games in BlackBerry World to give the phone a real push.
When it comes to battery life we found it to be very average. In our continuous video test, the phone stayed on for a little over three hours with the brightness at 75%. In daily use, with moderate usage we were able to just about get 14 hours with sync on and checking social networking app, email, BBM constantly and a hour of calls. Battery standby time on the other hand is really good. For a business phone we were hoping to get a bit more especially with the 1800 mAh battery. Think of it that you are doing a business trip for a day. If you leave for the airport early in the morning, travel to another city, finish your meeting and then return at night, it is very doubtful that you will have any juice left in your phone, unless you find time somewhere to charge the phone.
The phone takes over two hours to charge from 0% to 100%. These tests have been done on the latest firmware of BB10 which Blackberry claims increases battery life.
Priced at Rs 43,490, we find the phone too expensive.
It does have its positives. The OS is fresh, but does have a steep learning curve which some might difficult to learn at first. Once you figure out all the gestures, using the phone is a snap.
The keyboard is the star, and honestly we can say that once you type on the BB10 keyboard all other keyboards are pale in comparison. The predictive text is just magical.
If you are looking for a good camera in your phone, we suggest you look elsewhere as the pictures in low light are just not up to the mark. Time-shift is an interesting feature, but it has now made its way to other phones in the same price range.
BlackBerry Hub is also great for those that receive a lot of communication and are addicted to BBM.
While we did like the OS a lot, we think that it has come a year and half too late. This phone may not be able to draw the iOS and Android crowd, especially for those that have invested in an ecosystem and will not find similar or equivalent apps in BlackBerry World.
But this is the best phone ever from the BlackBerry stables, and BlackBerry users will love the upgrade.
- Refreshing OS with a fresh take on gestures
- No lag in general usage
- BlackBerry Hub is excellent in aggregating all messages
- App ecosystem is very limited
- Gesture-based navigation needs a bit of patience to learn
- Priced pretty high
BlackBerry Z10 key specs:
- Processor: Dual-core 1.5GHz
- Display: 4.2-inch LCD display, 1280 x 768 pixel resolution at 356 PPI
- Camera: 8-megapixel rear facing camera, 5X digital zoom, 1080p HD video recording; 2-megapixel front facing camera
- Memory: 2GB RAM, 16GB Internal Storage, hot swappable microSD slot
- Battery: 1800mAh removable
- Size (LxWxD): 130 x 65.6 x 9 mm