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The BlackBerry Z10 is the first phone featuring the all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system. It's faster, looks great and makes it a lot easier to perform everyday tasks.

Hands-on

The BlackBerry has a solid, black body that looks a little bit like the iPhone 5. At 136g its heavier than the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 – it's two principal rivals – but is still very comfortable to hold. 

Unlike previous Blackberry models, the Z10 drops the physical keypad for a touchscreen. The display is sharp and bright and images are rendered in great detail. The BB 10 operating system is fast, easy to use and plays host to a good range of useful apps.

What we liked

BlackBerry Hub 

This has to be the best thing about the Z10. The Hub is a single location where you can access messages from BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and email. Instead of opening and closing the different messaging apps, you get them in a single convenient location. You won't miss any work notices or updates from friends and family.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) 

BBM is a popular instant messaging service that works between BlackBerry devices only. Once upon a time BBM was compelling because it offered low-cost messaging through the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) which cost R59 a month (Vodacom). With the BlackBerry 10 operating system BIS has dropped away and with it the main selling point of BBM. However, Vodacom will be offering free unlimited BBM until May 31 and you also have the option to download the WhatsApp messaging app. While WhatsApp does use data, the amount of data is minimal and is much cheaper than sending an SMS.

BIS will still be available for BlackBerry devices that run BlackBerry OS 7.

Touchscreen & navigation 

The touchscreen keyboard is fast and accurate. It also "learns" from your typing history, suggesting words to help you type faster using predictive text. 

To navigate the device, all you have to do is swipe to the left from the main screen to reveal preloaded apps, and to return to the main menu swipe to the right. Apps can be minimised by swiping up, move between apps by swiping left and right or simply close apps by touching the (x) icon on the bottom corner of the app.

Intelligent calendar 

This built-in scheduler helps you manage your daily tasks and plan events. If you have an important event to diarise, you can easily invite participants. The software also suggests participants that it thinks should be included, making sure you don't forget to include anyone.

BlackBerry World App Store

BlackBerry World offers around 70 000 apps, games, books and magazines. The app store feels a little bit clumsy and it can take a while to find what you're looking for. Even though BlackBerry World has far fewer apps than the Google Play or Apple store, there are still more than enough options to choose from and most of the popular are there.

BlackBerry Balance

If you take your BlackBerry to work the new Balance feature is useful. Your personal data like photos, music and private messages is kept in one place and accessed from your personal profile. Swipe to your business profile and the phone switches to whatever services and permissions have been set up by your organisation’s IT department.

Conclusion

The phone looks good and feels great. The Hub concept works very well and the phone competes squarely with other top-end models on the market. For die-hard BlackBerry fans, the Z10 will not disappoint – and its likely to attract a whole new set of users.

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