Hello everybody. I am Irfan. I am a photographer and designer. I specialize in conceptual and commercial work. You can check my work at http://irfanintekhab.com . I also am a musician, calligrapher and pencil artist by hobby. I love technology and to learn new things. I dont like insulting or bashing any company, individual. As in the end of the day, there is effort put into everything made.
Firstly, I would like to thank BBin for asking my opinion about blackberry 10. Secondly, I would like to clarify a few things before I even start.
- I am not a journalist or blogger. So have never written anything as such before. So my words or sentence framing won’t be perfect.
- This is just my opinion about BlackBerry 10 platform having used z10.
- It is not a vs or comparison or bashing any other companies or platforms. It is simply my opinion!
So lets start! Let me start in order as far as I could.
As soon as I held the device, it feels very solidly built and beautifully designed. The edges and rounded corners on the top and bottom blend in very well. The size of the phone neither feels too large nor too small. It feels just perfect. The screen looks bright, clear and sharp. I was in awe and sometimes want to just stare it. The setup was easy and taught me the basics of navigation before I actually had to use the phone. This was like tutorial Videos or slide show if you will. It was quite helpful as I didn’t know exactly how things work. I set up my phone and accounts and started.
First features which are not usually credited:
When BlackBerry 10 first launched, they were showcasing the unlock device with swipe and the flow design of how you can get into the hub from everywhere. I’ll be honest, it did not really seem like anything out of the box or amazing. It felt like just minus one button to unlock and there was notification trays in other platforms too. But these two features are something which cannot be understood or explained much unless you use it yourself.
In about first 10 minutes I was already used to swipe to unlock. And it felt not only easier but so much faster. I began to realize how just one button can make such a huge difference. And that one button being moved out of the way changes the whole experience. I am stressing on this because this is a feature which cannot be appreciated unless used. And I too did not before using.
The second feature I would like to stress on which again cannot be appreciated unless used is the hub, and how you can get to it from everywhere in the ui. Let me explain why I really liked it so much. This previously felt like another type of confusing notification centre, but it is not. It is something completely different and amazing. Try to be with me here as I explain why. Let’s take a situation for example. Lets say I am am typing an important email and some notification goes off, now this could be any notification, a twitter mention(not important at the moment), an sms(maybe important) or an email rejecting the subject I am typing on(very important!). now, the steps don’t really work as it would in a notification center or tray. Here, I can simply swipe up and see the icon of the notification which in the first look lets me know what the notification is. If say it is a twitter notification, I can simple swipe back down and continue with my email. If it is an email, which I am guessing to be important, I can continue the gesture swiping to the right and see what the email is. If it is important, I can get into it, if not, I can still go back to what I was doing while still continuing with the gesture. So its like everything is happening without me raising my finger off the screen. In just one little gesture.
It may not sound superb here the way I say it, but it is. These little things felt like some unnecessary steps removed from the way. It is definitely a feature not appreciated unless used.
Phone: the phone application is very well designed, I could add all my most calling numbers on the top and will have all the history below as soon as I launch the phone. I can switch tabs and get to contacts, which will not open another contacts application, which is fast and makes sense. Then there is a dial pad. I was able to copy numbers, add contacts and do everything necessary that I would expect a phone to do. What I really liked was I could paste the number in the dial pad. MUST HAVE! One another cool feature is, when on call there is a button “call note” I can press this and quickly take any notes that I want to take. This is especially necessary when the person on line is giving some details. This note will save to the remember app.
Contacts: contacts application works very well. I could see all the contacts from all my accounts in one place and could even switch off some accounts if I did not want to see them. It also linked most of my contacts with their social accounts. Sometimes it failed to where I had to do it manually. I could add, share, edit and do everything necessary here. What I liked in this was I switched on some cloud thing in the settings and I had few numbers whose email ids were added automatically. This was very cool! Also what I liked was my favorites were always on top.
Hub: in the hub, you can find every message/notification/reminder and even calendar event if you scroll up. You can filter them, customize them, and do everything you will ever need inside. It is like a notification center on steroids! It indeed is a HUB.
Calendar: calendar is simple to use and powerful. It provided me with all the features I would like in a calendar. Adding events and meetings was easy. Viewing events and meetings was very intuitive and easy and I did not have to dig into menus and trays to see what is going on with my calendar. I liked how when I am adding attendees, it gives suggestion of who to add. Or maybe they are recent. But the suggestion always gave me right people _. I also liked how the numbers become bigger with how busy my day is. Gives a very quick look on how busy I will be that day. Very productive.
Calculator : I mostly use calculator for basic calculations and conversions. Gladly, both of these are present in the calculator. There are also additional scientific calculator and a tip calculator which is more like a bonus for me. It is a powerful calculator, keeps track of my previous calculations too which I can delete when I don’t need them. Conversions are easy to do and very well designed.
BBM: BBM is a very powerful messaging service I wont get into all the details of it. I liked the addition of video call and screen share. Screen share specifically is very powerful and useful. There are also bbm channels released recently but I haven’t tried yet.
Remember: the remember app is so powerful that I may not really do justice to it with my words. It is like a mini diary of everything you want to remember. Very well named. You can save text, attach photos, documents, task, emails, and almost everything. It is indeed useful to remember important things. I could set due dates and reminders as well. I use this a lot.
Instant Previews: I could set the phone to show me instant previews whenever I received a message wherever I am. I could cancel by pressing x or reply to it directly without leaving what I am doing. It comes as an overlay on what I was doing and then vanishes as soon as I press send. However I encountered one problem with this. When I am screen sharing with somebody, I must be able to hide the previews from them. but I cannot do this. However, I believe BlackBerry will add protection to this as they did for password input.
Swipe up: this is again one thing I really liked about this phone is how I can swipe up to minimize an application and quickly go into another application, phone, search or camera. This I wouldn’t say something awesome as you can go to home screen directly in other platforms too. But here, it felt like I am not only multitasking but my phone and search are always available when I swipe up. With increasing smartphones, the focus on phone itself is erasing, it did not feel the same with this design, my phone is always available as quickly as possible. This gesture also goes along with the whole experience and navigation again feels blazing fast. Just to note, when you get used to it and you know where your fingers are going, It feels like you are switching applications even before you start the gesture. Works real fast!
Text size: I liked how the platform lets you choose so many font sizes. From 5 to 18. This is important because not everyone wants to use a same font size and not everybody has the same vision. Some platforms totally neglect this or just give small, medium large options.
Top tray/settings tray: I liked how I can also swipe from top and get to the main settings that I will need quickly. The thing I really appreciated here is some settings like wifi has a switch as well as a button to jump into the wifi settings directly. This gives me two options which are needed in one simple block. Very well designed!
Clock: the clock is very well designed and alarm is intuitive and easy to set. Just a note, alarm switch is also present in the settings tray. Again having a switch and a button so you can jump into the clock from there as well. I can also switch tabs to world clocks and view my clocks, however there wasn’t a way to rearrange these clocks. I had to delete them and then re add in the order I want. This came in the way of the whole experience. There must be a rearrange but I think it will be added in future updates. There are also stopwatch and timer built into the clock which is very good. I use timer a lot and its easy, you can just slide the marker to set how long you need the timer, there are no confusing menus and trays. It felt like if I want anything related to time, it will be present in clock.
Weather : weather application looks classy with focus on content. It gives me the temperature upfront and I can switch to see hourly. On top I can select places I have added. And there are some bonus cool animations in the background.
Search: search I found to be very helpful, it searches everything in the phone from music, photos, emails, messages and everything else which contains my keyword. There are also quick words you can use to do something for example
“Tw or tweet” to tweet
“Play” then album name or artist name or song name to play
“map” to search map
“bbm” then name to bbm somebody
“call” then name to call
“text” then name to text
And few more. The whole search felt very powerful and I seem to be using it a lot for almost everything.
Camera: I found the camera very good. It works very well. I could also edit the photographs which had many options. The ones I look for are crop, brightness and contrast which were present. There were some other bonus filters and effects and frames and such which I don’t use. I could quickly view the photo if I drag the preview from bottom and it will go back as soon as I raise my finger. And if I don’t raise I can continue the drag to share or delete the photo quickly. Felt fast and easy.
Keyboard: Lastly, this thing has simply the best touch keyboard available right now. The performance is blazing fast, the predictions are extremely accurate and it seems to learn the way I use and frame sentences. I could swipe back anywhere on the keyboard to backspace, swipe down to get to symbols, hold to capitalize a word. This may not seem amazing in words but when I used it, I was blown off by its performance. Its veeeeeeeeeeery fast! Sometimes it’s as fast as the speed of speech. And I am not exaggerating.
As an overall experience I would rate it as the best communication device from all the ones I have used. What I really liked about the phone is how well the UI is designed without getting in between functionality. In fact the design always seems to complement functionality. It is really very fast! And has everything I would expect to have from a smartphone. Emails, documents, contact, calendar, everything a professional needs to have.
I cannot and will not comment on the apps, gaming and multimedia section as I almost never use 3rd party apps and games and use multimedia much on the phone. But I know I can always install an android app on this phone if someday I really need to use one which is not available on BlackBerry. This day however I never see because whatever I need is already present in the phone.
Issues and negatives
There are some negatives and issues I had.
- BBM, Contacts and few apps have a setting to use darker theme, then why not give a global setting in the display section where I can select what I want dark and what I want light themed? Did not make sense to me
- When screen sharing on BBM, it hides the password stating “confidential” then why can’t the instant previews be hidden? What surprised me more is there is an option to suppress instant previews from showing when connected to HDMI. Then why not in screen sharing?
- When viewing the photo roll of clicked photographs in camera app, when I scroll from the last picture, I felt it must jump into camera, but it did not. I had to press the back button to go back to the camera. This is not a failing point, but it just comes in the way, which is not how the whole UI elsewhere feels. Elsewhere it feels blazing fast and every unnecessary thing out of the way. Then this did not quite complement the whole experience.
- When I am recording a voice note. There is no way to specify where I want my voice notes to store. It always stores on the device. And since its connected to a note in remember app, if I manually move it elsewhere, then I will not be able to open it from remember app. I will have to attach manually again. This was not the case in previous BlackBerry phones.
- In previous BlackBerry OS, I could set a location on the compass and use. Here I cannot set a location. This is a major issue because then the compass is not really making any sense if I cannot set destination location?
- The colorization in hub for different accounts gives a very thin line on the left. I felt it should be thicker because it’s not much visible.
Those are the only problems I faced or thought something must have been different. Overall I would rate is 9.5/10 and a 10/10 if the above problems are changed in my favor.
I don’t know why this device is not being recognized. It really is the best device I used till date. And you really have to use it to believe it.
Thank you for reading throughout and I apologize if it was not properly written or boring. C U.
We can stay in touch on twitter @IrfanIntekhab