Remember Frank Schuenguel? My friend who let me play with his Nokia Lumia 820 over coffee earlier this week? Well, aside from that stunning WP8 smartphone, he also showed me two other stellar devices that he's currently keeping in his 'gadget vault'.
And this one, according to him, is his favorite.
Yes, he's got the much-talked about BlackBerry Z10!
"Let's just say I really got away from BBs since some of the top end Androids came out," Frank told me while handing me the European retail package containing the handset. "Now I'm considering going back to Blackberry as my main phone, and I never thought I would do that."
The box in itself represents the changes that are happening or have happened at BlackBerry. Gone is the boring matte black box with the small BB logo on top and you now get this slick packaging, which looks a lot like that of iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 -- only, of course, it's Black.
BlackBerry Z10 Philippines is the first smartphone from the Canadian company to run the all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Apart from its top-notch specifications - including a 4.2 inch 768 x 1280 pixels display, 1.5 GHz Dual Core Krait processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8 MegaPixel autofocus camera with LED flash, another 2MP shooter in front, a Full HD video recorder, 16GB of expandable internal storage, and an 1800 mAh battery pack delivering up to 10 hours of talk time - the true highlight of this flagship release would have to be the key software features that come with the fresh QNX-based OS like true multitasking, BlackBerry Balance, BlackBerry Hub, and the smooth Flow user interface.
Lifting the cover, you'll be instantly smitten by the elegant all-glass face of the smartphone. It's one of those devices that look great in press shots but look even better in the flesh. Not to take anything away from all previous BlackBerry releases (including the handsome BlackBerry Torch 9810 handset that I use currently), but I would have to say that BlackBerry Z10 is easily the best-looking device the company has churned out thus far. The combination of the subtle yet effective set of metallic accents, the bedimpled matte back cover, and the extemely solid build makes the phone not only a joy to hold but also to behold. Looks-wise, I really think it can give the gorgeous iPhone 5 a run for the money.
I got to play with BlackBerry 10 user interface for a bit and I actually liked the experience. The smoothness of touch-response and transitions is similar to iOS while multi-tasking panel looks a lot like that of MeeGo. Just like Android, you can swipe from the top frame down to change connectivity settings but the notifications along with messages are in a whole separate section, which you can access by swiping up then going right from the bottom frame. Now, in terms of the number of apps available and the way the default browser works (or at least the way it renders Desktop version of websites vs. Safari or Android Browser, which is bad for websites like TechPinas that don't have a mobile version yet), I'd say BB10 is more or less on the same level as Windows Phone 8 -- and that means that a lot of work still needs to be done in those departments. Overall, though, BB10 offers a far more intuitive experience that what all previous BB OS versions have given me. Suffice it to say, BB10 shows great promise.
The European package includes a three-prong charger, HDMI cable, microUSB to USB cable connector, standard earphones, manuals, and - of course - the BlackBerry Z10 unit itself.
I'll show you more 'in the flesh' photos of BlackBerry Z10 and share additional thoughts about the handset in the coming days. I believe this smartphone will see official launch in the Philippines within Q1 2013 so stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, if you will, kindly share this post with your friends in Facebook and Twitter who are also patiently awaiting this flagship device's formal arrival in the country.