First Glance: BlackBerry Z10 & Q10

I had a chance to sit down and briefly play with both the Z10 and Q10 in AT&T and T-mobile stores last week. Here’s my initial opinion:

I was very impressed with each phone overall.  The hardware builds are top notch. Each phone felt solid and comfortable in my hands. I was pleasantly surprised by the width of the phones. In comparison to other phones like the iPhone 5 (awkwardly too thin) or HTC One (awkwardly too wide), the Z10 and Q10 feel just right in my hands. I went in thinking I would like the Q10 more than the Z10, but the extra space afforded on the Z10 feels awesome. It feels like they applied all the design lessons from Apple and Samsung of what to do and what not to do. I thought the camera was fantastic.  The pictures were high quality. The shutter lag is almost non-existant. I was blown away by that. A quality camera is a huge selling point for me as a photographer, and as phones have quickly become the most often used camera this is an important feature to get right.

I’ve heard a ton of good things about the new BB10 operating system and software for their new phones, but the carriers are shooting BlackBerry in the foot with this regard. I’m not sure if this is something that BlackBerry could be helping the carriers with, but the phones weren’t set up at all except to load a “demonstration application” that plays a video/sideshow of how parts of the system work. When I exited out of the demo application, the phone was an offline, empty husk. At least the photo application let me take pictures. But unfortunately, there wasn’t much else to try out on the phone. I will say that the core of the operating system was incredibly fast. There was zero lag as I switched between the main applications and various settings.

The demo phone in the store should be online (even if it’s just on the store wifi). BlackBerry should be providing demo units  set up like someone would if they were actually using it. Preload each demo unit with some BBM messages, a linked gmail and outlook account, a filled out contacts book, a bunch of mp3s, etc. It’s not too hard to look at the successful hardware companies and see what they do that works and copy that. Apple prints buckets of money from phone sales because they have this down to a science. When you walk in the door to their stores, every one of their products on the demo tables  is set up for potential buyers to test and use.

A slideshow does nothing for me. I can watch slideshows all day long on my computer of how the phone works, but when I go to test drive something in the store, I expect it to be set up for a real use-case scenario to show off all the strong points. If a car dealer had me get in the car and then watch a slideshow of how the car works instead of a real test drive, they’d be the laughed out of business.

Since the carriers don’t seem super interested in pimping the new BB10 phones, BlackBerry has to step up their game and make it really easy for people to experience the advantages if they want to stay in the game. I’ll be buying a Z10 later down the road so when I get a chance to play with the software more extensively, there will be an update. Stay tuned.