Before we took the device apart, we took a few moments to actually use the BlackBerry Z10. What immediately stood out was the touchscreen keyboard. Unequivocally, I would say that this is the best touchscreen keyboard I have ever experienced. The predictive typing is great and composing emails, texts and BBM notes comes with ease and intuitiveness. I applaud the designers of BB10 for creating a touchscreen keyboard that would make the move from the plastic keyboards of previous BlackBerry handsets very easy for legacy owners.
The screen is also quite vibrant. In terms of the visual to the human eye, it is very competitive with the Samsung Galaxy S3’s Super AMOLED screen and Apple iPhone 5’s Retina display. Overall the BB10 OS flows very well. I experienced no bugs from the first update (which is a marked improvement from the day I booted up my Playbook for the first time) and BB Hub, BlackBerry’s all-encompassing message manager, actually does simplify all messaging on the handset. It just takes some time to get used to the deluge of information that initially might seem overwhelming.
Truthfully, however, there is one noticeable drawback. Nothing in particular stands out as innovative about this handset. Mind you, one can point to Apple and Samsung and state that innovation there has been replaced with iterative improvement design. But the problem in that comparison is that both Samsung and Apple have had months of advance sales on their latest offerings and a huge library of applications from which they are able to build leverage from.
The Z10, on the other hand, lacks some key apps such as Netflix, Instagram, and others that the average person would want in a phone right out of the box. If some of these applications are missing, there needs to be a “wow-factor” that would encourage a Samsung or Apple user to make the switch to the BlackBerry Z10. As it stands, this handset is going to be a huge leap forward for you if you are an existing BlackBerry user. You'll finally have a phone that is comparable in many ways to the market leaders.
However, if you've already made the switch to an Android device or an iPhone, there's really nothing here to make you want to come back, unless you really miss BB Messenger.
The front of the BlackBerry Z10 communications board (click on image to enlarge and expand).
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.