For struggling BlackBerry, the Z10 is a little too late. It's unlikely to woo customers away from other top smartphone brands. BlackBerry loyalists should give it a try, reviewers say, but consumers who use an iPhone or Android phone will be disappointed.
New OS is lacking. "The [user interface] makes the Z10 a tough handset to recommend," says Forbes.com's Ewan Spence. Among reviewers, his sentiments reflect almost universal disappointment with an operating system hampered by a challenging file manager. "The learning curve is immense," says PhoneDog.com's Aaron Baker. Experts appreciate the idea of the Hub app, where incoming messages from all sources are collected. But when it comes to retrieving and sorting these messages, it gets "sloppy," as one reviewer describes it.
In the plus column is a bright, crisp screen and simple controls, which make operation straightforward. Most experts universally agree with T3.com's Thomas Tamblyn, who says the device's virtual keyboard is "one of the best touchscreen keyboards we've seen."Â On the other hand, experts complain about the lack of a home button.
The Z10 sounds good. Reception, call quality, sound, and processor speed are all excellent, according to most reviewers. The 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and beefy 2 GB of RAM zip things along. Such speed comes at the expense of battery power, however, which is rated at about 10 hours and only lasts that long in the best of conditions, according to tests.
Fortunately, it recharges in three hours, and the battery is replaceable. The Z10's camera captures great images and records decent video. One reviewer complains that's it's a bit slow to power off and on, while Engadget.com's Tim Stevens has minor issues with call quality, weak volume levels and the camera's autofocus feature. Reviewers dislike that the BlackBerry World app store is "overflowing with junk apps."
A well-built device. Tamblyn says the Z10 "feels like a phone that was made for a marathon of suit trousers, coffee spills and desk-level drops." On each end are polycarbonate bumpers, while a dimpled, rubberized plastic plate covers the back. A couple reviewers complain about the back cover, which Spence says feels "cheap and tacky."
Not a standout design. The Z10 "doesn't set itself dramatically apart from other leading slab-style smartphones," says Sascha Segan of PCMag.com. Still, most testers say it's a subtle, attractive design. Almost alone in his effusive praise, PhoneDog.com's Baker describes the Z10 as a "beautifully designed piece of hardware."
Excellent 8-megapixel camera. Although one reviewer calls the Z10's camera "nothing more than average," CNET's Jessica Dolcourt says it's "good enough to stand alongside the big boys." Video playback is great, but to record 1080p video requires a Class 4 memory card (not included), otherwise video is limited to 720p. A front-facing 2 GB camera also records 720p video and can be used for video chats; it receives mixed, but generally favorable reports. The device has Bluetooth 4.0 and is NFC-compatible.
1. The Verge
Review Credibility: Excellent Recognizing BlackBerry's dire need for the Z10's success, Joshua Topolsky says the device's entry is "a long bomb with all the blood, sweat, and tears behind it you would expect" from a company on the ropes.
Review: BlackBerry Z10 Review, Joshua Topolsky, Jan. 30, 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good Ewan Spence says the Z10 is "a competent, modern smartphone that can be trusted to deliver results, but needs more development time for the operating system to mature." It is a "good phone," but nothing stands out about it to draw people away from their current phones.
Review: The BlackBerry Z10 Might Not Be A Stunning Smartphone, But It Gets The Job Done, Ewan Spence, March 2, 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good The Z10's BlackBerry 10 operating system takes quite a bit of learning, not helped by "a long list of OS inefficiencies and omissions." Along with heaps of praise, CNET's Jessica Dolcourt cites, among other things, the universally ridiculed maps app and the "deficit of camera features."
Review: BlackBerry Z10 review: Classy handset hampered by OS flaws, Jessica Dolcourt, Jan. 30, 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good If the Z10 fails to succeed, warns reviewer Tim Stevens, "BlackBerry is in for some very hard times." Even though he likes the phone in general, he adds that "there's really nothing to love." Blackberry fans will like it, but he believes the Z10 may be too late to make the splash BlackBerry needs to compete.
Review: BlackBerry Z10 review, Tim Stevens, Jan. 30, 2013
Review Credibility: Good Sascha Segan struggles with why somebody would buy the BlackBerry Z10 "instead of an Android, Apple, or Microsoft phone?" He likes its design and camera, but overall it fails to rise above being much more than a "killer work package," he says.
Review: BlackBerry Z10 (AT&T), Sascha Segan, Jan. 30, 2013
Review Credibility: Good "Hold it in your hand and you'll be forgiven for being less than overwhelmed," says reviewer Thomas Tamblyn. He says BlackBerry needs to add more apps in order to please even the most loyal users.
Review: BlackBerry Z10 Review, Thomas Tamblyn, Feb. 21, 2013
Review Credibility: Fair Calling it a "beautiful piece of hardware," Aaron Baker nevertheless thinks the Z10's release date in the U.S. is "too late." The hardware might be "solid," and the Z10 "a substantial improvement over previous BlackBerry smartphones," it nevertheless has an "immense" learning curve.
Review: BlackBerry Z10 Snapshot Review, Aaron Baker, Feb. 11, 2013