Blackberry Z10 impressions after two months

I have had the Blackberry Z10 for more than two months now as my full-time device. The impression is mostly positive.

  • The email and messaging experience is great. The always-available unified Blackberry Hub really does work well. Integration with Exchange ActiveSync accounts work great with full push support, as is expected from a smartphone these days. IM, SMS, BBM, Twitter etc are all integrated into the hub too and the whole messaging experience is very well thought out. At the first blush, it may not seem like a big deal but there are a lot of little things throughout the UI that make the experience very good.  Still waiting for the Skype app though.
  • Virtual keyboard is up there with the best.
  • Web browsing experience is pretty good. Web standards support is great with good HTML5 support. WebGL is enabled by default. Javascript engine is decently optimized and overall page rendering speed is also competitive. Flash is also available, though disabled by default.
  • Overall gesture-based UI works fine and is quite consistent, at least for apps that are not Android ports.
  • Multitasking system is actually pretty nice and much easier to understand conceptually and operate than the multitasking view on, say, Android ICS.
  • Game availability is also decent. Some fun titles I have seen so far include Jetpack Joyride, Bejeweled 2 and Chimpact.
  • HDMI functionality is also pretty decent. I connected the Z10 to a HDMI monitor using the micro-HDMI port and it mirrored the display on the screen. However, Z10’s aspect ratio is not perfectly 16:9 and thus there are small black bars on the side of the mirrored output. However, that is not a huge issue and playing back media, or opening apps or web browsing,  all work fine. Mirroring the display over HDMI appears to be no impact on performance at all. Games also work flawlessly over HDMI.
  • Under-the-hood, it is powered by POSIX compliant QNX and Blackberry provides very good tools for a variety of languages including C/C++ and HTML5+JS. Android apps can also be ported over in many cases as mentioned previously but the “native” option is to write in C/C++ using Cascades UI toolkit. I will cover the dev environment separately sometime. Suffice to say, it is very good.
  • Maps is one of the weaker areas for Blackberry 10. The default Blackberry Maps app offers turn-by-turn navigation support for driving.  But Blackberry Maps offers no support for walking directions or public transport and requires a constant data connection with no offline support.  Third-party apps, such as Wisepilot, are also not all that great. In short, the offering do not match up to competitors like Nokia Maps or Google Maps.
  • Camera is also only average. Autofocus often takes its sweet time, and image quality is passable. Not bad in a pinch, but nowhere close to my old Nokia N8.

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