Technology Tuesday: Blackberry z10

I about had a heart attack when, Thanksgiving morning, my trusty Blackberry 9900 wouldn’t boot up. It took me a couple of days to get around to figuring out what the problem was – the OS had become corrupted – and fixing it. My biggest problem was not the reloading of the OS but the fact that I didn’t have a recent backup. (Long story – Blackberry changed its sync software, causing me enough grief that I had stopped backing up.)

I’d owned my 9900 for a while – nearly 18 months – and was worried that whatever caused the problem might reoccur. So I started looking at getting a new phone. Being under contract meant paying full price for a phone – and the days are gone when I’m willing to shell out $500-$600 for one.

blackberry-z10-whiteAround December 1, Blackberry sent out out one of the endless emails about its new phones but with an offer I just couldn’t refuse: a z10 for $199. I jumped on the offer, figuring I’d just put it on eBay if I didn’t like it. Apparently, I wasn’t alone – it took about three weeks for the phone to get to me. The system was basically overwhelmed with orders. In fact, by the time I ordered, the black ones were all gone. I ordered and received a white one.

It’s been nearly a month now and I can say this phone is a keeper. I thought I’d have trouble with the lack of physical buttons but I guess my experience with iPads prepared me for that. The screen is wonderful, the new OS is amazing and I’m more productive on my phone than ever.

Some of the things that I have on this phone may be old hat to those using other operating systems but for me, it’s a leap forward. I love the integration in the Contacts app of my various social media contacts, including those from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I also love the Hub, which is like an inbox on steroids. I’ve literally had to cut down on what I see there, but I still get notifications of everything. I have always limited the number of email accounts on my phone, despite having many of them, simply because of the deluge of mail I receive. The fact that I can have those accounts on my phone but not have them clutter my inbox is just what I needed.

It takes me a little longer to compose things on this device, because of the lack of a physical keyboard. But the predictive text works better than I have ever seen – I actually had it turned off on my previous Blackberry – and while there is a physical keyboard version of the phone, the q10, I’m not willing to give up the real estate. I’m getting better at typing on the soft keyboard all the time.

This phone hangs on to a WiFi signal better than any phone I’ve used. My home is a virtual dead zone for cellular calls, so WiFi calling is a must. Even with my previous phone, I had trouble making and receiving calls using WiFi. Not on this one. Plus, when I’m out and about, I have T-Mobile’s 4G LTE service.

This phone isn’t perfect, though. One thing that bothers me is that Blackberry has been known for its security – and BIS is not available on OS10. Another thing is that, in their infinite wisdom, Blackberry did not include the automatic bcc that I’ve been used to. That’s another reason it takes me so long to compose emails on this thing.

Finally, there is the apps. Those written for OS10 are great. But, as is typical of a new operating system, there aren’t enough of them. The only one that I really miss is my Twitter app. As it turns out, there is a fairly simple way to load Android apps on this phone. I used it last weekend to load UberSocial, although I have to admit that the Android version of this app is not nearly as robust as the Blackberry version. It appears that running native Android apps is coming in a 10.3 firmware update soon.

But to be truthful, my needs for apps on my phone haven’t changed since the days of my first Pilot (before it was even Palm) in 1996. I still want a device that does PIM well and this one fits the bill.