Reinventing BlackBerry: BlackBerry Z10 Review

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BlackBerry 10 User Experience

The Z10 runs on BlackBerry’s latest OS, BlackBerry 10 which uses gestures for navigation (in fact, there aren’t any navigation buttons on the phone). Since most users won’t be overly familiar with the gesture controls in BB10, let’s take a brief look at some of the more useful gestures.

When the phone is in sleep mode, you can wake it by pressing the Power button or by swiping your finger from the bottom of the screen upwards. If you are concerned about the latter motion accidentally turning on the phone, you can disable this setting in the Settings menu. Unlocking the Z10 is pretty intuitive – simply slide your finger up from the bottom of the screen.


After unlocking the phone, you'll see the first main home screen. By default, you’ll find three main screens that display the apps that come with the Z10. To access any panel quickly, tap the appropriate dot located below the app grid. You can also slide your finger along the dots to switch from one panel to the next very quickly. When an application is open, an additional panel will appear. This panel is denoted by four dots and is called the Active Frames page. This panel shows all open apps and lets you open and close apps. You can have up to eight apps open at a time.

The BlackBerry Hub is a unified inbox that displays all of your messages and notifications from various accounts. To access the BlackBerry Hub from anywhere on the phone, swipe your finger from the bottom of the screen upward and then to the right, making an inverted L shape. While using the BlackBerry Hub, you can swipe inward from the left of the screen to reveal individual inboxes. If you drag your finger down from the middle of the screen while in the BlackBerry Hub, you’ll see a quick view of your appointments for the day. This can be handy when you need to check your availability before responding to a meeting request.


BlackBerry recognizes many of its customers are likely to be business professionals that require a secure device. To meet the needs of these users, BlackBerry has implemented password protection, a screen lock, and a feature known as BlackBerry Balance which lets you have separate profiles for work and personal data. With BlackBerry Balance, you can store business apps and information on your work profile while music and other personal files are stored in a personal profile. When configured, you can switch between work and personal spaces by dragging your finger down from the middle of the home screen and selecting Personal or Work.

BlackBerry Balance provides the security companies demand in the form of a work profile and a separate profile for a user's personal files.

To access various phone settings, drag your finger from the top of the screen downward, just as you would in Android. This swipe gesture will give you access to Settings, Bluetooth, Alarm, Rotation Lock, Wi-Fi, and Notifications. To turn off notifications and put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, simply swipe down from the lock screen. When you do this, you’ll see the BlackBerry clock along with Alarm options. To exit this mode, swipe down from the top of the screen and select Exit or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to unlock the phone.

To display the keyboard at any time, swipe two fingers up from the bottom of the screen. Of course, the keyboard will also appear automatically when entering text is necessary (such as entering a web address or composing an email.)


Although previous BlackBerry users may miss the company’s beloved hardware keyboard when using the Z10, BlackBerry did its best to offer a keyboard that users will embrace. To facilitate quick typing, BlackBerry included text prediction with the Z10's on-screen keyboard. To insert a word highlighted on the keyboard, flick upwards on the key beneath the word. If you’d rather have the words appear in a column above the keyboard or not at all, you can change this in the Settings menu. During our testing of the phone, we found the predictive text feature to be quite handy. It definitely saves time when tapping out long phrases. The software is designed to be adaptive and offer better predictions the more you use it.

If someone you know has a BB10 device, you can also use BlackBerry Messenger to have a video conversation. You can also share your screen with that person using BlackBerry Messenger.


The number of applications available in BlackBerry World for the BlackBerry 10 OS is still relatively limited in comparison to other platforms. Even so, you’ll find many of today’s popular apps on the platform including Kindle, AccuWeather, eBay, Kayak, ESPN ScoreCenter, Box, Slacker Radio, and much more.

Although there is a definite learning curve involved with using a new OS, it didn’t take us long to feel comfortable using BB10. Overall, the OS provided a pleasant user experience.

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