Smartphones

The BlackBerry Z10 has the right price, but is it worth it?

Before you pay the reduced price for a BlackBerry Z10, make sure that you're aware of the downsides of this device.

BlackBerry Z10

The BlackBerry Z10 recently saw price cuts in the United Kingdom that were far more generous than the round of price cuts for the phone in the United States. Despite being launched in the UK at the end of January, the phone can now be obtained free on contract at Carphone Warehouse with service on any of the major carriers. In the US, the Z10 is $100 on contract through Verizon and AT&T, or for $50 with service through providers at Best Buy.

With the dismissal of BlackBerry’s US sales head Richard Piasentin, BlackBerry failing to meet analyst  expectations for smartphones sales, and the annual shareholders’ meeting in which one shareholder characterized the launch of the phone a “disaster,” Blackberry is making a concerted effort to push these phones into the hands of hopeful customers. However, is the Z10 the best phone -- BlackBerry or otherwise -- for you and your company?

The case for the Z10 & BB10

My colleague at TechRepublic, Patrick Gray, has a much more in-depth look at the BlackBerry Z10 and the new BB10 operating system that it runs. The Z10 is something along the lines of a “great leap forward” for BlackBerry (formerly RIM), as they try to reinvent themselves to compete with the new age of smartphones ushered in by the iPhone, as opposed to the older business-class smartphones running Windows Mobile. The Z10 isn’t the most powerful phone on the market, but BlackBerry’s corporate image lends itself readily to a fine-tuned, optimized phone for the hardware it does have, in contrast to bleeding-edge Android phones with razor-thin profit margins.

The transition to BB10 has been somewhat bumpy. The BlackBerry PlayBook was initially promised to receive an update to replace BlackBerry Tablet OS with BB10. Despite the shared heritage of the QNX platform acquired by BlackBerry, the PlayBook update has been cancelled. Yet BlackBerry is betting the company on the success of BB10; telecommunications is what BlackBerry does, and they aren’t in a position to dump their phones below cost and sit on their laurels selling printers.

A closer resemblance to a classic BlackBerry

BlackBerry users tend to be somewhat inseparable from their keyboards, and the sales of the BlackBerry Z10 seem to bear that out. If you’re a BlackBerry diehard looking to retain the tactile response of a physical keyboard while moving to the new BB10 operating system, the BlackBerry Q10 is the device tailored to your needs. The Q10 launched in the US on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in June, and a version for Sprint is rumored to land later this month. The Q10 is available from Verizon and AT&T for $200, though at the time of this writing, Wirefly offers the Verizon version for $100.

Would you like to super-size that?

Rumors of a potential successor to the Z10 have been flying around for months, and with the price reduction of the Z10, the prevailing wisdom has been that BlackBerry is trying to move unsold stock to make room for a successor to that phone. The rumored successor, known internally as “Aristo” appears to be preparing to hit the streets later this year as the BlackBerry Z30, which is anticipated to have similar specs to the Z10, but with added power to drive the 5”, 720p screen. If you’re the type of user who fancies the Samsung Galaxy Note II (sans stylus) but are looking outside the Android ecosystem, the BlackBerry Z30 is quite likely worth the wait.

Final thoughts

Although BlackBerry is, by all appearances, committed to BB10, the downside to these devices is the nascent ecosystem, and in particular, BlackBerry’s late start to the game. BlackBerry is in a fair position to compete with Microsoft’s Windows Phone products, though the license model of that platform means a wider variety of phones on the market. The tepid response to Windows Phone works to the advantage of BlackBerry, but building a healthy platform ecosystem takes a growing user base, time, and money.

The Z10 is a fantastic deal if you’re not squeamish about being on the frontier in a new ecosystem; being an early adopter is always a bit risky. If you’re comfortable in that position, don’t require a physical keyboard, and have neither the desire, hands, nor pockets large enough to accommodate a much larger phone, the Z10 is a solid choice.

What are your thoughts about the BlackBerry Z10 for personal and business use? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below. 

About

James Sanders is a Java programmer specializing in software as a service and thin client design, and virtualizing legacy programs for modern hardware. James is currently an education major at Wichita State University in Kansas.

12 comments
mario.viegas
mario.viegas

What a pointless article... "Before you pay the reduced price for a Blackberry Z10, make sure that you're aware of the downside of this device.", yet you provided no technical bit of information to a downside. Kind of reminds me of the early days of weather forecasting. "Look out the window. See a cloud? Well, it may rain."

With regards to passwords, all companies have it set to expire after a period of time or not at all, not too sure how this would make BB10 such a bad device, for that matter not too sure how you are integrating such handsets to your BES10, but once a password expires all devices connected to an email account will have to have credentials updated. Does that mean all are as worst as each other?

Truth the matter for administrator and support staff the device being used is to a certain extent irrelevant, for any company who hides behind firewalls, VPN connection and any other mean to protect their intelectual property is worth noting blackberry devices have always sent email encrypted at 128bit and 256bit with the BES10. I believe this not to be the case with other devices... But maybe because so many departments are headed by middleaged men who want to emulate or feel closer to their teenage children devices like the iPhone find their way in to a corporation.

flowunder
flowunder

I own a BBQ10 and love it. The keyboard is brilliant and I like to type. My colleagues have the Z10 which is also a great phone but it's not the hardware, cause it's not really outstanding, but the OS and the management console brings the benefits for companies. The Secure Workspace is great, you can fully controll the corporate data and leave the personal side untouched, even if the phone gets lost, you're able to wipe only the corporate side. Also with the BES10 you can fully manage iOS and Android devices with the Secure Workspace app which is available for the other vendors. For me it's the same as for ciucahantos. BB is still the leader for companies, full controll and secure, and iOS and Android for fun / private. Just a short remark to the Z10 and Q10: the accu from the Q10 is better cause of the smaller display :-)

For checking mails and surfing the Internet the Z10 would be better cause of the bigger display. If you use it mor for communication, e.g. mails, the Q10 fits better. 

Desert Rose
Desert Rose

Had Blackberry for 6+ years for both work mobile/personal phone, Blackberry was our company standard utilizing the BES for  email/network synchronization. About 1.5 years ago, they went off the Blackberry standard and started allowing any type of mobile device to connect to the network.  Anyone with a smartphone that utilizes their company credentials for email, etc. has to change their password when the mandatory expiration occurs...so not only do we now we have to help these users figure out how to change their passwords on a variety of phone/platforms, but we can't account for the security of any of these devices when they're accessing our network.  Gimme back the Blackbery standard with BES anyday.  I now have a Droid for my personal device (had to give it a shot) and my Blackberry for my work device.  Droid is okay, but when it is time to upgrade, I'm going back to a Blackberry for personal use as well. Can't beat the straightforward platform and dependability..

sasinak
sasinak

I have one; it's the best device i have carried or tested-and most of my colleagues that work for Verizon, ATT, Sprint and T-Mobile concur.  It's not a toy, though-which is why it's not as popular on the consumer market as Android or IOS.  But, if you work for a living, it's vastly superior in almost every work related category.  Considering IOS is insecure, and Android is inherently insecure, if you work with proprietary and secure information, it's the only real option on the market.  Great phone performance, email scheduling, contacts..what you expect from a BlackBerry, and does the consumer features IOS has, just not as many 'give the phone to your kid to shut him up for an hour' apps.  BES 10 configuration depends on the Enterprise configuration, so...your experience, as always, depends on how well you integrate.  In any event, with most financial institutions going to mobile apps, right now most people are unaware of the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars being lost in courtrooms due to confidential data being lost on company handsets last year-which is expected to increase geometrically in the coming years.  When consumers start having their phones hacked and their bank accounts emptied, that'll change.  A few weeks ago, there was a nice presentation on hacking an iPhone in 60 seconds at BlackHat.  But if it keeps your kid quiet for 20 minutes, who cares, right?

SFlorie
SFlorie

As the Mobile Tech person for the two companies I work with, I activate, configure, deploy and support most of the platforms out there: BES 5 devices (since the 8830), BES 10 devices- both Q10 and Z10, Android, iPhone and iPad. 

The BES 10 devices - Z10 and Q10 - are from my perspective the worst of the lot.  Rather than being directly linked to BES and using only the BES connection, they also use the end-user's network password.  If the end-user's network password has expired, or if the end-user has changed their network password, the phone will sending and receiving email, at least until the password is updated on the phone.  Our password expire every 90 days.  This is just long enough for each end-user to forget how to update the password on the device.  This causes great frustration for my end-users, and while I don't mind the extra work, it does get in the way of some of my other projects.

DAS01
DAS01

I wonder if Windows Phone (WP) will overtake BB now.  Commentators speak of "tepid" and similar responses to WP even though many devices have been sold and, at least as a business device it has a lot going for it, not least the integration with MS's cloud, which is quite substantial.


Very recently I made my first foray into smartphones and opted for WP8, the main 'competitor' being Android.  So far, so good.  And I can still compare with Android at home because my teenage son has one.  No regrets!

ciucahantos
ciucahantos

I own a Z10, owned before an Iphone 4s and a Galaxy S2 plus. Blackberry is the perfect phone for business - the OS is fantastic...it's hard to explain on particular facts, because it's all in the details, all of them combined. At first sight maybe it doesn't seem a big thing, but all the details combined create a fantastic experience. If you want a serious phone, buy Blackberry. If you want apps and fun, buy iOS or Android. 

pfezziwig
pfezziwig

re:but is it worth it?

Consumer rating websites put the z10 way ahead of the galaxy and iphones, only isheep tech bloggers bash the z10, who's opinion do you value more?

JamesAltonSanders
JamesAltonSanders

@DAS01 Microsoft's Outlook.com and SkyDrive cloud service suffered a three-day partial outage last week. That's really, really unacceptable for a business device. If BlackBerry push service goes down for a few hours, you'll hear about it on CNN. 

JamesAltonSanders
JamesAltonSanders

@pfezziwig In the interest of full disclosure, my daily driver is the long-discontinued Palm Pre 2. I am not now, nor have I ever been, an iOS evangelist.

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