John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Blackberry Z10 review

Jump right to a section if you like:
BlackBerry Protect
Blackberry Hub
OnScreen Navigation
Cloud Storage
Content Management
Battery Life
Fav Apps

I have been anxious to try out a BB10 based Z10 since the day it was announced. A friend of a friend enabled getting me one! Thanks Shawn and Lance! In the past the blackberries have been seriously tied to a cell phone carrier (Rogers/AT&T etc) based black berry plan. Even on a 9900 Bold you still needed a blackberry carrier account to make use of the device to do things like email BBM etc. So I was massively interested to see if blackberry had stepped away from this carrier entanglement. They have! The device can 100% be setup on WIFI, on a SIM card without a Blackberry plan. Absolutely no tie in to a BES or BIS account! Even BBM! Something never in the past possible. This is a HUGE step forward. Something I bet a lot of people don’t even know. It’s hard to correct years of being told by carriers you have to buy blackberry plan services. In my mind this is one of the things that drove people to other devices. The carriers charged a premium for blackberry plans.

I will apologize in advance, as my first kick at this platform there is lots to cover off.

I’m coming from an Android Samsung S3 for a point of comparison. Android has come a long way and so the bar has been set for BB10 to reach and compete! And compete they must do to win back customers and be relegated from the bottom of the smart phone pile. One of the things I don’t like about Android is that it is laggy and buggy. So we will see how BB10 compares. Being a Real time operating system, QNX ought to be better at seeming iPhone like instantaneous and smooth.

Physically the device is a nice size for my hand. It’s just big enough that I can reach across the screen without shuffling it in my hand and risking dropping it as I have to do with the S3. It’s 5.1″ Vs 5.4 for the S3. That little bit smaller just fits my hand better. For compairson the Z10 is 2.6×5.1×0.4 inches Vs 2.8×5.4 x0.3 inches for the S3. So physically very similar in size. Weight wise the Z10 is 136G Vs 133 for the S3. Again similar. The screen is bright and crisp, easy to read and responsive to the touch. There are 4 buttons on the device. Vol Up/Dn, Power and a voice control key (that doesn’t seem to be reprogrammable). The power button is difficult to push, almost recessed. I checked a friend of mine’s and hers is much easier to push. Given that this is the only way to turn the device off it’s a little irritating. As a side note you can slide your finger from the bottom up when the screen is off and it wakes up and sometimes even unlocks. The back cover comes off easy enough but it does feel cheap and plasticy. Behind the cover is battery, uSD slot, and micro SIM slot. The uSD card can be removed without having to power off the phone. A good thing because it takes a while for it to boot from cold. Fortunately you rarely need to fully power it off. During a power on by the way there is a Blackberry logo on the screen. If you look closely there is a progress bar going around the logo. Press and hold the logo and you will see the percentage booted. So not obvious.

You can carry a spare battery if you want to and blackberry even have a neat device that holds a spare battery, and can be used to recharge the z10 on the go without actually removing the battery. When you get home the charger plugs into the spare battery and then the z10 so both get recharged while you sleep. A brilliant design. And you can also use this device to charge any uSD based gadget. I wondered how efficient this was, so I ran the battery on the phone down to 20%. In 45 mins the battery on the phone was at 66% (and the spare battery pack dead) so a very quick charge. Now considering the battery in the battery pack is a standard Z10 battery it means the battery pack is only about 50% efficient Vs taking the battery out of the Z10 and swapping it with a spare. So convenience comes at a price.

The device has a micro USB jack, a micro HDMI connector and a standard 3.5″ audio plug. There is no support for USB OTG so you can’t plug in USB devices such as USB flash drives, keyboard/mice etc.

In the box was a mini travel charger, a micro USB cable (for the charger as well as to hook up to your computer) and a wired headset. They do not include a carrying case, or sleeve of any kind.

Out of the box the OS was at was ready for download but took a long time to come down (almost an hour I think).

One of the first things you will need to consider is do you want to setup a new Blackberry account or use an existing one. This is a pretty key decision because to change the blackberry account the device is tied to requires a FULL wipe of the device. If you use an existing account then you can have your BBM contacts come over to your new device, but BBM will stop working on the old device. To change your blackberry account requires a device wipe. And a device wipe takes a while (over 15 minutes and then a start from scratch). Don’t forget while it’s doing this you can’t take any calls, receive texts nada. And of course you lose everything. All your settings all your setup. Everything. Your Blackberry world purchases are also tied to your blackberry account. So think this one through. Fortunately I discovered you can change the email address on the blackberry id, so at least there is that!

Right off the bat it seems the Z10 does not support exFAT (I hear this is added in 10.2 same in 10.2) which would support larger than 4G files (movies for example). Pooh. In fact I formatted a uSD card on a PC as FAT32 and even then it didn’t like it. In the end I gave up and formatted the card on the Z10. I copied a bunch of content onto the card and the Z10 took a while (about 1/2 an hour on a 32G card) to see all the content. Oddly the storage manager did not properly show how much of the card was free. Eventually all of the content (music/videos) showed up.

The device does detect rotation of the device, however, like Android, it does not on the home screen (or lock screen or app list). Pooh. This is especially inconvenient when you are trying to unlock it and you have it on it’s side such as a dock, or if your using an HDMI monitor (more about that later). The screen does only do 3 of 4 rotations, no upside down. Out of the box there is no setting to keep the display on all the time. Again something you might want on a dock. There’s also no setting to use the camera flash as a flashlight. There is a free ap for that called FlashLight.

Bluetooth pairing of a keyboard, mouse and headset went perfectly smoothly. In fact headset connection is already far more reliable then it ever was on Android (my S2 and S3 from time to time just would refuse to connect. I’d have to turn Bluetooth on and off to get it to work).

Sadly there is no way to wake up the berry with the keyboard or mouse so your reaching up to the power button, then unlocking it on the screen before you can start typing. Especially limiting when attached to an external monitor and your not close to it ie the couch 😦 Something I am sure most people will never even notice. And absolutely no way to navigate around the user interface of BB10 on the keyboard. Everything from home, back, esc, windows keys etc are 100% ignored. So you will have to use the touchscreen of the device to do much of anything. So basically the keyboard would allow you to just type on it.

The calendar app like most of the PIM apps on the Berry is an aggregator. Oddly they have not allowed you to see only the calendar for one app. The contacts app for example does. You might want this if you were booking something for your personal calendar. It gets pretty busy when it munges your work and personal calendars into one view. Oddly the calendar notification default is set to off. Miss a few meetings and then you figure that out 😦 It also has a local calendar, which just happens to be the default. Add a few calendar entries and wonder why they aren’t getting on your calendar? DOH, silly. Go into settings, accounts, set defaults. You can also not show the local calendar but no way to delete it altogether. Another anomaly to the other PIM apps.

The dialer has got to the first one in a long time that does not do a contact search when you start typing in numbers. So you are relegated to a text based contact search. And while favorites show up in the contact app, they oddly do not in the dialer. You can create speed dial entries so at least there is that. But all in all this is poorly designed, either that or I am missing something.

Blackberry Protect
Blackberry have included an app called Blackberry Protect which allows you to log on to the Blackberry Protect portal and locate your phone, lock the phone, play a sound, display a message, and even wipe the phone all remotely. A nice feature. But be sure and enable this and set it up, because it is disabled by default. An odd choice. Test it BEFORE you actually need it! By the way, Samsung have a very similar service.

The music player shows a nice thumbnail of each of your artists, Albums, and Genres. You can search your collection. You can create a playlist on the device. You can also delete music right on the device (yay). And they have included a shuffle all feature, something I use a LOT (yay). No advanced features like lyrics, discography etc. And no link to social media. The music does properly stop when you unplug your headset, but when you plug one in it does nothing. It does start/pause playing music if you hit the button on a wired headset (or it done on the one I tried). The middle convenience button if pressed once does a play/pause, if you were listening to something. All in all not a bad music player. Music is one of the main things I do on my device. If this wasn’t done well this would be a show stopper for me. And blackberry multimedia in the past has been VERY substandard. This time around it’s not bad at all. Nicely done BlackBerry!

I’ve always liked the clock on my Bold 9900. Any time you plug it into a charger the clock comes up and stays on. The clock on this one is not as nice, does not come on automatically when you plug it into a charger, and does not stay on. Pooh. There is a clock which you can start from the lock screen (by dragging it down like a night shade) they called it Bedside mode. BSM also turns all notifications off.

Google (as well as others) really are not embracing BB10. There is no Gmail app (so you lose the priority inbox I love so much), no Google maps, no Google Navigation etc. I’m told Blackberry are bringing their own Priroity inbox in 10.2 for all inboxes.

I played with the built in Maps app which includes turn by turn directions. It works fine, but the search engine is not as good as Google maps. There’s also no way to share a location you have found in the maps app, or add it to your contact list. You can create favorites in the app.

There is Google Talk (written by Blackberry) available but not the newer Google Hangouts. And it is not integrated with the rest of your Google accounts so you have to re-enter your userid and password. Not a big deal … It does integrate properly with the Blackberry Hub so that’s a yay! Similarly there is a MS Live instant messenger (again written by BlackBerry).

One of the limitations of Android has been it’s inability to control fonts. Even when Google included the ability to control the font in the OS so many programs did there own thing making this problematic. On BB10 you set the font and can change it any time you want and (almost) everything changes with it. One exception to this would be the onscreen keyboard (and a few apps). Which can be a challenge if you bump the font up large enough to read without glasses and then try and use the on screen keyboard. This is a HUGE step forward and nice for someone like me that is starting to need reading glasses 😦

BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) has been freshened now to include Voice and Video chatting (and channels are coming) as well as text instant messaging and is of course free. It will be interesting to see when BlackBerry roll this out to Android etc how/if they monetize it. Reality is one reason why some people have bought BlackBerries in the past was BBM. Not that I get it. Given all the other instant messaging options I don’t really see the attraction of BBM. At least not enough to make it a decision point on which device to choose.

Blackberry Hub and messaging
BlackBerries are first and foremost communication machines. On BB10 they have created something they call the BlackBerry hub. This is a message and calendar aggregator that pulls all your sources into one place. And the hub is readily available by sliding left at any time. So you can quickly deal with any form of message, and then quickly get back to whatever you were doing. Each of the individual sources can easily be selected (text/email/bbm etc) as well making it an efficient way to deal with stuff coming at you from every possible direction. Accounts can be supported from Email/Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook etc including easy setups for Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo or generic IMAP/POP accounts. So lots of flexibility in how this can interact with the rest of the world. If there was anything missing I like the way a message notification comes on the top of the screen in Android that you can select and go right to the new message. Other than that … Nicely done!

With all these messages coming at you the lack of a priority in box is really missing. So is any way to have different colors on the notification LED (something I’m thrilled to have by the way). I’m also quite surprised at the limited number of notification tones you can choose from. Each source (email, text bbm etc) can all have there own notification tone, but BlackBerry have included so few it’s less than helpful. I’m not sure what the thought process on this was (assuming there was one). The 9900 had a lot more choice. Fortunately BB have included the ability to have ringtone be a music file you provide it, and it can sit anywhere, so fixing this is pretty easy as long as you can find a ringtone you want to use.

Another thing I found limiting was the small number of sound profiles you have. Happily Bluetooth sound is unaffected by these so when the BB connects to your home, or car stereo over Bluetooth there’s no separate Bluetooth volume to mess with (as there is with Android). You basically have Normal, Phone calls Only, Vibrate only, Silent and All Alerts off. And none of these are changeable. You can’t even add your own. Also gone is the auto power off. A feature I used on the 9900 to turn it off during hours when I am not at work or on call. There’s also no way to control when a particular account (say your work account) is on and active. Either have it or not

Onscreen Navigation
The screen is divided into three sections. On the far left is the Hub.

Next to the right is any background running aps. I hear it can handle up to 8. If there are more than 4 swipe down to see the rest of them. The background apps can easily be closed from there by pressing the x. You can also see widget like functionality as the app runs in the background. Now with 10.1 there are some limitations to the implementation of the OS you need to be aware of. First there is no way to autostart an application on boot. Second once you close an app from this screen it is closed. It is not running in the background. This is important to note from everything from instant messengers, to VOIP etc. So you have to manually start these on boot, remember not to close them and have only 8. Ouch. Not a deal breaker but definitely a limitation. This is suppose to be changing in the future but this is what it is right now.

The last section is pages of apps you have installed. It supports folders or apps too. I have to admit I do miss the information rich world if Android widgets. Navigating is relatively easy between these screens. Just swipe. But if you have pages and pages of apps your swiping through pages of apps until you realize (thanks Jeff) you can just press the exact page or hub you want on the bottom of the screen. It also doesn’t wrap around when you get to the end. So for me the first page of apps includes a number of folders with my most commonly used stuff in them. You can not have more than one icon to individual apps so if you wanted to have an app in more than one folder your out of luck. A number of the screen movements require you to start from the edges of the screen. Be careful if you buy a bumper case or the like for your device. If it sticks up at all it will make it hard to do these edge of screen gestures. Deleting aps and moving them around requires you to just push and hold them until they start to wiggle. Ok this just looks iPhoneish. Even preloaded aps can be uninstalled. For me this is the first time I have seen this! Yay! Carrier bloatware be gone.

From the top of the screen you can swipe down and get quick access to settings, Rotation lock, Bluetooth, WIFI, Alarm and notifications. Click on the icon itself and it toggles it (that took me a bit to figure out) click beside the icon and it takes you to the settings screen for that particular item.

Let’s face it, apps make the device. Don’t have the best apps, or the apps aren’t as feature rich (because they are old) and you can make or break a device. Since a lot of users are coming from one platform or another they will have must have apps to be able to live on the new device. In the mobile world let’s face it, iOS is king. Android is second. Blackberries are way down the list. On the positive side, BB10 can run Android aps. Blackberry have made it relatively easy for Android developers to re-sign their aps and add them to the BlackBerry app store. If your favorite Android app has not yet been added to the app store you can do it yourself. The Android installer is called an APK. The BlackBerry installer is called a BAR. GoodEreader has both APKs and BARs. They even have a web interface to convert APKs to BARs. Once you have the BARs you can manually install them onto your device by following this guide. By the way the guide forgot to mention you have to load BlackBerry link on your PC for this to work. Don’t get your hopes too high, some Android programs work and some do not. I found the same thing the last time I played with this on the playbook. GoodEReader also has a marketplace of it’s own that can make downloading them yourself even easier. Interestingly enough even the GoodEReader marketplace is an Android ap 🙂 Once an app is downloaded from the GoodEReader marketplace you still need a trip back to your PC to install it.
Of the Android 41 aps I tried 26 of them either do not work or aren’t functional enough to be useable, which is better than the last time I tried this. A couple of notes on the point, BB 10.1 only supports Android 2 (Gingerbread) APIs. 10.2 upgrades this up to Android 4 (IceCream Sandwich). This in itself may help the issue. And second the API does not support Bluetooth. Sadly this is not fixed in 10.2.
Update: Checkout my deep dive on Android app compatibility.

If you have access to an Android device you can backup your APKs your by following this guide and then using the APK to BAR converter on Good E Reader to convert them and then side load them.

Do remember though, this is a one time install. You will not be informed of any updates to any apps you have side loaded.

You will also need to note that these don’t completely integrate into the core OS. So they don’t add to the share menu as an example.

I also need to point out that is not impossible for a virus or malware to creep into an APK/BAR that you are side loading. Android apps have complete access to the file system of the device and uSD card. So it would not be impossible for an Android app to infect (such as system exploits) the platform and even native BB aps. Now I am saying possible, not probable and not easy. And remember I don’t work for BlackBerry so there could be controls I am unaware of, but this seems to me to be 100% possible. As a paranoia I made sure I exported my own APKs and then I converted them to bars (using GoodEReader) which leaves only GoodEReader as a point where I could get infected.

Apps purchased on the AppWorld can be paid for by charging your cell bill (seems to be the default), your paypal account or your credit card. Nice to have flexibility. Refunds are handled by manually submitted a form to Blackbrry Consumer support. Checkout there refund policy before you buy anything to see if you like it or not. The policy seems pretty harsh to me.

From within AppWorld there are Native BB aps and ones that have been ported to BB10 by the developer. You can tell the native ones because they have this logo on them

Between apps I manually side loaded, as BB native aps I found most of what I need. Without side loading the picture is a little more bleak. I have lost some functionality but it’s nothing I can’t live without. One of the things I can’t find is a decent Sudoku game. Really?

Blackberry have made it very easy, maybe too easy to emergency dial the phone. I unplugged my Z10 the screen came on and I walked with the device only to discover I had accidentally pocket dialed 911. If you do a Google search on it, it would seem I am not the only one. Ooops. Apparently cops don’t like that. Huh … who knew 🙂 DOH.

Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a handy thing to have. I like to have it backing up pics as well as some data on the device. My favorite SugarSync has not embraced BB10. Fortunately the Android side load of it works just fine! You have to manually point it at the Blackberry camera folder in the uploads area but that’s easy enough.

No SkyDrive or Google cloud either. Blackberry have by default including something called Box loaded. I got an account and tried it. First of all the ap is dumb and didn’t think about the fact the default camera ap can store pics on the uSD card. It ignored them. Second it has no options to add your own folders you might want to sync. Well that was a waste of time. Idiots. Box=crap. It is however well integrated into the BB file manager 😦 Here’s the response from Box customer service “Unfortunately, we don’t currently offer the feature you asked about. Our Product team is constantly looking for ways to improve Box based on user feedback, so I’ll be sure to forward your suggestion on to them for consideration.”

DropBox is also included, but there is no auto backup functionality built into the app.

HDMI works as a shadow of the devices display. Not a whole lot to say about it. It just works. You do not need to have power to the phone for HDMI to work. You will run into the issue that the home screen does not rotate with the device. This worked fine for movies as well as displaying pictures. Presentations would also be possible. Since the port is a standard uHDMI cable it’s easy to get one. Interestingly enough the playbook came with one, the Z10 does not. Given this is rarely used probably not a bad choice.

When you first plug the device into a computer that does not already have BlackBerry link loaded it mounts a CD to allow you to download and install it. Handy and easy.

Content management
Once plugged in you notice that there are two drives on your PC. One for the internal storage and one for the SD card. If you look closer these are actually file shares, even when plugged into your PC with USB.
Done this way I was getting around 6MB/s in speed.
You can go into settings Storage and access and instead of a file share the SD card now shows as a flash drive. This gave around 11MB/s or about double. Do be aware that the SD card becomes unavailable in this mode as long as it is plugged into the computer. The same uSD card plugged into the card natively get’s about 22 MB/s so sadly this is about half.

You can even turn on file sharing on the network so the BB mounts itself as a file share. To do this go into Settings, Storage and access:
Click on Identification on Network and you can define workgroup and username:
From a command prompt on your PC you can see what shared:
net view \\z10-jgalea
Shared resources at \\z10-jgalea
Samba (z10-jgalea)
Share name Type Used as Comment
certs Disk certificates
media Disk media
removable_SDCARD Disk removable_media_SDCARD

I tried a number of times to use this and was completely unsuccessful at getting it to work. From Windows 8 and Server 2008R2.
I eventually discovered that inside settings, Media Sharing there are list of allowed devices. Deny by default was there and I needed to permit the device. Oddly the message it gives back is not about permission denied so it was no help finding the problem. I simply stumbled upon the solution. Once I had that sorted it was a simple command:
net use p: \\z10-jgalea\removable_SDCARD /user:BlackBerry
Or connect to it using the network browser of Windows.
I was able to get 2-3MB/s with this method.

I was able to get AndFTP from Android side loaded and was able to get about 2MB/s off a local FTP server. Comparable to speeds I get on Android although I have seen as high as 3MB/s. Files dropped on the device this way are immediately visible to Native BB apps so this is a viable option too. Convenient, but slow of course.

If your wondering why I spend so much time exploring all this, my phone is also a media device. I use it for listening to music, and watching videos on the Go. So being able to quickly and efficiently get files onto it are essential. This is one of the reasons why I hate iOS devices. I hate iTunes.

Video playback on the device seems very good including support for MP4, DIVX/XVID however MKVs didn’t work.

The Z10 is suppose to properly support DLNA and there are settings for “play on” inside the music, video, pictures apps but I couldn’t get it to find any of the devices on my network (including Windows 8 devices, and Android devices). Those devices however did see the Z10 content (once sharing was enabled and the device permitted). So unfortunately only half of the way there.

Blackberry Link software seems Ok. You can use it to backup/restore your phone, update firmware (oddly I had Link tell me an update was available for my Z10 but the update it wanted to install was the same that was already on the device, and the device itself did not show an update?) manage content (Music/Videos etc), sync contacts etc. It works ok. And the Z10 can even connect to link wirelessly.

By default (once link is loaded) when you plug your BB into your PC you see two drives (one for the internal storage and one for the SD) card passed to your PC. Looking closer what you see is even when plugged into USB these are mounted as network file shares.

Like most new smartphones you can use this to tether in a variety of different ways. Through bluetooth you can connect a device for tethering. To do this you have enable internet tethering (in the network connection, settings menu) and then pair the device. Bluetooth is limited in speed (about 1MB/s) but does save phone power.
You can also tether over USB. This is faster than Bluetooth and offers the added bonus of keeping your phone charged (from your computer) but of course has a cable attached. By the way the minute you start internet tethering BlackBerry link starts complaining about the connection to the Z10 being broken. Even asks if you want to remove it or reload it. Dumb. This could easily confuse a techno peasant 😦
Last up is portable hotspot. It uses WIFI to connect. Its faster but takes more power from the phone. To enable that go into settings, mobile hotspot and set it up. You will need to turn off internet tethering to use mobile hotspot. The two can’t co-exist. Why blackberry didn’t put all three of these under one menu is beyond me. Seems obvious. Whatever, minor nit. I did find as I was bouncing around the various tethering options I found the BB became a little unstable. I had to reboot the phone and the computer to resolve these. I am assuming this is initial setup nonsense.

Web Browsing on the Z10 is a pleasant experience. It uses a browser very similar to Android and iOS. Panning and zooming is super smooth. I do miss the ability to have the bookmarks syncd with my desktop like I have on Android with Chrome.

The LTE speeds on the Z10 are good. It really is nice to have LTE back. My S3 was the international one which was non LTE. All in all the radio on the Z10 seems rock solid.

The onscreen keyboard on the Z10 is quite different. Auto correct works ok, look ahead prediction I find is kind of small and hard to see. The corrections/predictions can be selected by flicking them upward. It takes some getting use to but can be reasonably efficient. So far I would have to say even after a short time I am getting quicker with it, and already liking it better than Androids keyboards, even my beloved Swiftkey! I do miss swype though. I had gotten quite use to it. I still find myself trying it on the Z10 🙂 Funny cause at first I didn’t find swype came naturally.

Blackberry have made it easy to turn data off on the device (from settings, Network connections, Mobile network data services) but there is no count of data transferred. I also don’t see a setting that would keep network data on but stop syncing email (for power savings for example).

I had worked out Camera interoperability (taking pictures with a real camera and having them available to upload etc on the go using the phone) on Android. I had a number of options from USB OTG to an Eye-FI card. Sadly none of these will work. The only option left is to remove the uSD card from the camera and insert it into the Z10. This makes me a little nervous because there is no safe remove option on the Z10 and I am concerned this will eventually corrupt the card. After a bunch of messing around including manually setting up the Eye-FI card’s WIFI connection to the phone I was able to get the WIFI card working with a side loaded Android app! Woohoo!

From a VOIP point of view there are numerous choices all that seem to work well on initial testing. Sip.FM I have working for both incoming and outgoing with my VOIP provider Skype out works well as well although has been a bit flakey. Lastly there is always BBM Voice or video (to other BBM users).

Accessories can make a gadget more fun! I bought two official Blackberry cases from Amazon:
31XZh-POXxL._AA190_ 416rCXs4AzL._AA190_
One is a pouch for protection in the pocket. The other is a swivel belt clip. I have to say I don’t like either. The pouch is so tight it’s tough to get it out of. And it feels like your going to scratch the screen. The other is the swivel belt. This one is clumsy to get the device in and out of and I just feel like I am going to drop it. And the flap feels like it’s going to scratch the screen. Which I know it won’t. Both devices have built in magnets that allow the device to auto lock/unlock. I also found a car holder on Amazon for it.

I’ve also see a few docks for the device (I haven’t bought one as yet). The docks are problematic. The jacks for the device are on the side. So the docks end up laying the device on it’s side. Problem is there are any number of parts of BB10 that do not rotate with the device and then you get side screens like this one. This includes the lock/unlock screen. Home screen, apps screen etc. You find yourself titling your head while you navigate. Once in programs the rotate works fine. But then the device locks on you (since there is no stay awake setting) and your back tilting your head again 🙂

Battery life
Battery life is like any device. Active power really varies with how much you use it. You can smoke the battery on this device pretty quickly. Watching movies take there toll, and games can always be hard on a battery. 10-14 hours of battery life seems about what it gets on average. I would consider this on par with my S2/S3. For comparison checkout my article on my S2.

Standby battery life is much easier to measure. I leave the device idle doing as little to nothing as possible.

On a LTE (based on just under 11 hours of data) I project a standby battery life of 44 hours. This is about on par with my S2 at 46 hours. I tried the same test with WIFI on but not connected to anything and the data was within the error of the data, so it makes in little to no difference to leave WIFI on all the time.

Dial this down to 4G and this number goes up to 68 hours of standby life or a savings of 35% (compared to LTE) Vs 69 on my S2.

Turn on WIFI (so it doesn’t use the cell network for data) and you get 75 hours of standby life or a savings of 41% vs 112 on my S2.

Turn off data and leave the phone on LTE and you get a standby time of 130 hours of projected standby time or a savings of 66% vs 122 on my S2. Of course cutting off data also means the programs have little to nothing to do!

Lastly I dialed the network down to 2G (which is dead slow by the way) and get a puzzling 64 hours of projected standby time Vs 115 on my S2. This number is odd but I left the phone for over 16 hours so the data point is good. But it basically tells you there is no point ratcheting the data speed below 4G.

For your reference network speeds:
GSM also called Edge or 2G theoretical 220 Kb/s actual around 56-100K
4G/3G also called UTMS theoretical 21 Mb/s actual 3-7 Mb/s from what I have seen/heard
LTE theoretical 75 Mb/s actual 21-55 from what I have heard/seen

So comparing these two devices what you is very similar battery life on standby. What you also see is if you compare dialing down from LTE to 4G the savings are relatively the same on these two devices. As is the savings when you turn off data. The WIFI standby battery life for the berry isn’t as good as the S2, not sure why.

Of course once the battery is dead it comes time to recharge the battery. Reminiscent of an iPhone of you let the battery die down to the point where it turns off the phone you will have to wait about 10-15 minutes once you plug it in to use the phone again. And when it comes back on it’s set in the same mode as it was when it powered off. So you get home after a long day, your battery is completely dead. You plug it in and have to wait 15 minutes before you get to go to bed otherwise it will power itself on, be in sound mode and wake you up after you’ve fallen asleep when an email comes in. Or god forbid if you have an emergency, well surely you can wait 15 minutes for your phone to get enough juice to even turn on? I don’t get this one at all.

A total recharge from completely dead off the stock charger (750ma) comes in at 3 hours. I tried a higher current charger (my Samsung tablet 2A charger) and brought the time down a little to 2.6 hours. There is a BlackBerry premium charger that BlackBerry say “Charge your BlackBerry smartphone up to twice as fast with the BlackBerry® Premium Charger” I bought one and it brought charging down a little to 2.6 (same as the Samsung). A far cry from the advertised twice as fast. Don’t bother buying one. It isn’t worth it. Off USB (your computer) it would take 4 hours and 22 mins to charge from completely dead.

The overall feel of this device is smooth and elegant. Particularly with native apps. The Z10 is smoother than either the S2/S3, but not quite as immediate as the Nexus 4 or an iphone. The device is solid and reliable on the cell network and bluetooth. I would put the overall reliability on the Z10 above my S2 and S3.

Add in Android apps and this device is a solid contender. I really do like this device and am suitably impressed. Originally I thought I would get the device write the review and sell it. I think now I will sell my S3 and stick on the Z10. I’d love to play with a Q10/Q5. BB10 really is an even better platform for Android than Android!

So what have I given up on the Z10? Bluetooth heart rate support. Sudoku! And XBMC (Which I rarely if ever used especially since I bought my Windows tablet).

What have I gained? Stability, reliability and overall better performance. Oddly even compared to my Quad core S3 I9300 the Z10 is smoother faster and just doesn’t have these irritating pauses I have always found on Android. This coming from someone that could easily be called an Android FanBoy!

Fav Apps
My app mix ends up being a blend of stuff from AppWorld as well as apps I have side loaded.
Messaging – BBM (built in) Google Talk, Windows Live and Skype Preview (still a little buggy, seems like an android port).
Social Media – LinkedIn in, Facebook and Foursquare all native apps. I’ve side loaded Yelp, Meetup and Living Social
Weather – The Weather Network has rewritten the app for BB10.
Games – Odesys: Spider Solitare, Solitare and Freecell (all native apps, no idea why they didn’t just make this one app and select which you wanna play) and I have side loaded Original Yacht, Jewels, and Word Scramble free.
Transit – Go Mobile (from Go Transit) will not run so I have moved to the web based and added Bookmarks for my stations. Rocket Man handles TTC and I have side loaded Mississauga Bus schedule
News – CNN, Bloomberg, CBC News all have native BB apps

Other Apps
SIP.FM – Native VOIP client. Works well and is well integrated into the BB contacts
BX Battery info , Sound hound (Sadly no Shazam for BB10), Kindle (ebook reader), 2X (RDP client), RunGPS (GPS based exercise tracking, sadly no Heart rate monitor support),

Others – Side loaded: Alcodroid free, AndFTP free, TorrentFU, Radio Thermostat, SpeedTest, Kiijii, and Ski Report

Here are the converted bars I got working.

Special thanks go out to Jeff Bouganim my train buddy. He has been instrumental in helping me figure out the ins and out of the Z10 much faster than I would have on my own!

October 9, 2013 - Posted by | Android, Blackberry 10, Electronic gadget reviews


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