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BlackBerry Z10 Gets High Marks for Work and Play

By Conrad Meyer

When I initially picked up BlackBerry’s new Z10 smartphone, I thought ‘This phone feels just right.’ The weight, the contours, the width – everything seems perfectly balanced and in sync. Granted, I have pretty large hands (typically XL gloves), so the phone is hardly oversized. It is larger than an iPhone but slightly narrower than the typical Samsung smartphone, although just as long. Current iPhone owners will find the phone comfortable and easier to deal with than some of the bulkier Android offerings.

The screen is bright and crisp and responds very well to the touch controls. The screen is larger than an iPhone’s, so those users will find this phone a nice move up. The resolution may not appear as sharp as the iPhone’s Retina Display (although the Z10 actually has more ppi than the iPhone 5) but the increased size makes up for it.

Whether you are using 4G or Wi-Fi, you immediately appreciate the benefit of the new processor. Even flash loaded web pages refresh with excellent speed. In fact, it is surprisingly quick; almost as fast as an old desktop computer.

Big users of social media will find the new BlackBerry Hub feature a big advantage. Facebook updates, emails and texts all appear in one customizable location. I was only using email and texts, but this feature was a nice benefit. There’s no need to go to the individual applications, and you can respond directly to your messages right there from the Hub.

BlackBerry’s attempts at improving typing and creating a keyboard-less solution met with mixed results for me. If you are an iPhone user accustomed to texting with one finger, then the Z10 keyboard and typing method are a huge improvement and a big step towards increased efficiency.

The intuitive typing suggestions are good, but the “swipe up” technique seemed a little counter-intuitive. However, once the Z10 “learns” your commonly-used words, you can start typing whole sentences through a series of swipes! The only drawback is that the suggested words are a bit small and sometimes difficult to see.

Given the traditional strengths of the BlackBerry platform, the acceptance of corporate America may well determine the fate of the Z10. To this end, BlackBerry has been careful to preserve the features that appeal to the business community, while accommodating the many individual ways that people now use their mobile devices. The new BlackBerry Balance feature allows for an easy switch between personal and business data, satisfying the sometimes very different priorities of both users and their security-minded employers.

Although the BlackBerry World app store is adding hundreds of new apps a week, you may find that some of your favorites are still missing. (Instagram and Netflix are just two of the more popular apps that come to mind.) If apps are a big issue in your choice of smartphone, then you may want to look elsewhere, or at least be prepared to show considerable patience.

In summary, the larger screen, the improved keyboard, and the social media integration of the new Z10 are likely to win over many new fans. If you insist on the business security platform that BlackBerry is renowned for, then the Z10 is clearly the phone for you. And if you are a current iPhone user looking to make a change, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Conrad Meyer is an avid technology early adopter and active contributor on many Internet forums. Balancing a full time career in investment banking and diverse hobbies such as digital audio and video, motorsports, and competitive bicycling, he still finds time to be an engaged husband and father of two daughters, aged 10 and 13.

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