A review of the z10

Steadily growing love, and not instant infatuation is what defines the z10 for a new user. Like with the girl you fall for, you have to peel off the layers she has around her to reach her heart and understand her, and feel the love that is just magical, the z10 slowly reveals to you its true potency. It is no one night stand for sure 😉

I was pretty excited about the launch of the z10 in India (moreso because it was one of the rare devices which I could flaunt, before my colleagues in the US). When it did launch for 43k, there were a lot of jokes about it on twitter, and comparisions to probably a hero honda splendor and sorts. I see their perspective – it was a blackberry, and the older blackberry phones had failed to deliver (duh, that is why they wrote the entire os from scratch). But, the problem was, that this wasn’t a Blackberry in the traditional sense. It didn’t have a keyboard to start with, and let’s be honest, ALL their earlier full touch devices were Crappy. What on earth gave them the idea that someone would pay up that much for a full touch by them!? Aah, preconceived notions about their hardware will be their falling. I was scanning flipkart, and found people who had NEVER used a z10, writing reviews and rating it. It was sad and hilarious at the same time, watching someone completely ignorant about the device write off a company. But then, such perceptions drive sales. If a person doesn’t know, he would see the rating, and then buy a phone. And when people who don’t have that phone rate it (read: grapes are sour), then the whole rating could be misleading. Probably Blackberry shouldn’t have called it a Blackberry – the curve’s rating were higher than the z10’s. *sigh*

Anyways, I went ahead and bought it the day it was launched, because my 9900, 9780, 9320, 8900 had always supported me, and served me well. And my first few reactions could be summarized as follows : excitement, ecstasy, boundless joy, utter confusion, irritation, and then finally the sense of dependability and love that I associate with blackberry.

Now people must be wondering what was with the utter confusion and irritation. The thing is that they were not moments, they were more like hours. Let me explain.

After using traditional blackberries (listed above – I abhorred from buying any blackberry that was a full touch), iPhones (4 and 5), Android devices( samsung galaxy s2 and note 2) and windows (lumia 800/920) , I had gotten used to a paradigm where you had a back button. Now here was a phone that absolutely delivered a pure touch experience, and BlackBerry had gone from being a device with the most buttons, to the device having the least.

Its not that the device didn’t educate you on the gestures, it did, but as humans know, the longer you’re in a habit, the longer it takes to unlearn that and relearn another paradigm of working. More often than not, z10 users are staring at their screen looking for a physical button, before it strikes them that they have to swipe. And this learning curve, causes them to think that this device isn’t as productive. What is true is that, this device isn’t as easy to single task as the other devices, but is much more productive than them. And when it comes to multitasking, active frames are a brilliant way to flow between apps, without double tapping or long pressing. It saves those few seconds, that allow a smoother flow, and a better experience – after a few hours, or in some cases a couple of days. But, once you get the hang of it, you appreciate how intuitive these gestures are. They just start flowing out of your hand. And that smile on the face of a BlackBerry user is restored.

Its amazing how they have actually built the entire UI around the human hand.

For example, they understand its easier to swipe up from the bottom while holding a phone or while typing with two hands, rather than swiping from the top. (You don’t have to change the way you’re holding the phone, the thumbs have to move lesser, and if you’re holding the phone in one hand, you don’t have to push your phone forward using your fingers, causing it to be in a precarious position). So they have implemented the frequently used gestures from the bottom – they call it the peek and flow, I call it the banana swipe – just swipe ur finger in an arc, don’t bother with the 90 degree angle, and it will still work, halfway for peek, and full for flow.

The functions that you would use lesser – like changing the settings, have been the top bezel swipe, which is a little less intuitive as compared to the banana swipe from the bottom.

Similarly, they understand the importance of information. Yes, they have the usual security centric stuff, with it being the only non-rootable OS (alongwith the perhaps Windows 8), but that’s not what I’m talking about. The way it handles contacts once linked has always been amazing, even on the previous iterations, and here they just go one step further. They aggregate all the social networks into one, and if you have a meeting scheduled with someone, you can look them up easily in the people tab of the meeting – and you’d know a lot more about them. Similarly, the hub aggregates all your communication, and it just is one banana swipe away – ANY sort of communication, and you don’t have to go looking for the app, finding, searching. One ultra – intuitive gesture away, like turning the page. And you have all your information.

Even on the homepage, they understand some settings will be accessed more than others – like wifi, bluetooth, alarm, rotation lock and profiles, and they have given you the option of single touch to toggle on and off, or clicking them to actually dig down into the specific settings. So it is a toggle (like the android), as well as a shortcut. Unlike the iPhone, where you again look for the settings app, and then manually traverse the whole menu.

Even the options by long pressing a mail/communication work in two ways. The usual way of of long pressing, letting go, and clicking on the desired option. This works well when you’re unfamiliar with the OS and options layout. But a few weeks in, I was just long pressing and continuing the swipe, to the option, without lifting my finger – again a few microseconds perhaps at most – but feels so much more faster, and just the whole action just… flows.

The small things like keeping the delete button a little out of reach, so that you don’t accidently mechanically delete stuff, and the led notification light (c’mon, how much does it cost to put it there?), to the superior codecs used to uncompress music (hear it to believe it), are things that normally people won’t notice, but subconsciously appreciate.

And I shouldn’t start with the keyboard – the amazing tactile feel, having the numbers show up when you write passwords (and the ability to see your passwords), to the words flowing off your keypad to your message (you start using it only after 3-4 weeks – I just started it and am loving it – now I can type single handed faster than ANY other phone – including my 9900), and the autocorrect – Yes! I can turn it off! (or atleast turn it to moderate from aggressive). Thank you BlackBerry for understanding that you’ve got intelligent people who want to type certain things in a certain way.

Yes, I miss some functionality like a quickly accessible tweet or fb post button (in both android using widgets and built in to the iPhone’s notification tray), and the reject with a message functionality, but then this is the first iteration, and it provided you with more pluses than you could have imagined. As for people who crib about apps, majority of the apps you use (newer games included), are there on the z10. And some of them are exclusive (like feather duster – such beauty), to the Last Weather App to a few games (again brilliant HD graphics). The other required apps are promised (by developers) and shall be arriving shortly.

People were cribbing about the price, but BlackBerry didn’t go and give you another flavour of Android – it made a brand new OS, that Balances the ease, the functionality, and the productivity. This RnD didn’t happen for free, and the OS is good enough to command that price. It truly is the best OS out there, but unfortunately RIM..sorry BBRY, needs to do more to make people realize that.

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4 thoughts on “A review of the z10

  1. nice one…maybe Blackberry should actually use this article to increase their sales. I am tempted to buy this phone now !

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