The BlackBerry Z10: First impressions

BlackBerry (formerly known as “Research in Motion” or “RIM”) is trying to make a comeback with BlackBerry 10 and its first two flagship devices: The Z10 and Q10. The hardware keyboard-packing Q10 is expected to be released in the U.S. in the couple months, but the all-touch Z10 will be released on all major carriers (except for Sprint) later this week.

AT&T was kind enough to send us a retail version of the BlackBerry Z10 a week ahead of its launch and so far, we are pretty impressed with the work BlackBerry has put in to refine the operating system and bring the BlackBerry brand back into the foreground of consumers’ minds.

We will have a more in-depth review in the next week or so, but in the meantime, here are some of our findings after spending a weekend with the BlackBerry Z10:

  • Although the case is made out of plastic, the device still feels “premium”. The combination of the weight of the device and its lines  provides an excellent touch and feel when holding the device in your hand. BlackBerry has always given me the feeling of holding something special.
  • The blinking red notification light is back!
  • The 4.2″ display seems to be the perfect size for a smartphone. This size offers plenty of real estate without having to fumble with the device in one hand like my Galaxy Nexus. While holding the device in one hand, I can reach all points of the display with my thumb.
  • The operating system, while a bit difficult to master at first, is crisp. The “Flow” user interface is very fluid and lends well for high-speed communication. You can instantly switch between messaging and applications with a few flicks of your finger.
  • Speaking of messaging, BlackBerry remains true to its roots and provides users with a flawless communication experience. The “Hub” provides a combined inbox for all of your messaging pleasures (Email, SMS/MMS, BBM, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn messages,  Google Talk, and call records. If you only want to view messages in one of these inboxes, you can do that.
  • Not having a home button (or landing page for that matter) is slightly weird.
  • The camera takes pretty good photos. Not the best smartphone camera, but competitive. I haven’t been able to get the “time-shift” feature to work as advertised. Other faces seem to get smushed.
  • While BlackBerry App World already offers more than twice the number of apps as Windows Phone 8, there are still a few key apps missing for me. Besides Netflix and Instagram (available via side loading), many of the core Google Apps I use on a daily basis are missing. Google Voice lacks incredibly on iOS, but is simply non-existent on BB10. Google+ and Feedly are also big misses for me.

That’s all we have for now. If you have any questions or want to see something specific on the Z10, let us know in the comments or on Facebook. Stay tuned for our complete review!