BlackBerry is rebooting itself to crack down on some key issues and this year we will see some major overhauling of BB’s core projects. We were not surprised to see the Waterloo giant cancel this year’s live conference. Amidst all this economic crisis, there is a story of an unsung hero, the BlackBerry Z30. We had the opportunity to take it on a trip across North America and were more than satisfied with its performance. While it may not be perfect, it may very well be the most underrated smartphone of 2013. Read on to catch our complete review and final thoughts.
Size: Height 140.7 mm / 5.53 in, Width 72 mm / 2.83 in, Depth 9.4 mm / 0.37 in
Weight: 170g / 5.99 oz
Navigation: All-touch screen, with intuitive gesture based navigation
Dedicated keys: Volume Up/Down, Mute, Lock (for Power On/Off)
Keyboard: On screen BlackBerry Keyboard (portrait/landscape), featuring contextual auto-correction, next-word prediction and a personalized learning engine that gets to know the way you type.
Resolution: 1280 x 720 resolution, at 295 ppi, 24-bit color depth
Screen size: 5” diagonal Super AMOLED, 16:9 aspect ratio
Operating system: BlackBerry 10 OS
Processor: Dual Core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm MSM8960T Pro
Memory: 2GB RAM, 16GB Flash
Battery: 2880mAH non-removable battery.
Rear camera: 8 megapixel auto-focus camera, Back Side Illumination for better low-light performance, 5-element F2.2 lens, Flash, continuous and touch to focus, image stabilization, Proprietary Enhanced Super Resolution Digital Zoom (5x), 1080p HD video recording, Time Shift mode for pinpointing and adjusting individual elements of your picture.
Front camera: 2 megapixel fixed-focus camera, Image and video stabilization, 3x digital zoom, 720p HD video recording.
NFC: BlackBerry Tag with NFC technology enables communication between BlackBerry smartphones and other NFC-enabled devices with a tap.
BlackBerry devices have historically been very sturdy with an elegant design and premium leather finish, but we don’t see the case here. The design is a plasticky slate which is not at all eye catching and the metal rim border with an expanded base gives it a cheap look. The screen is brilliantly big in size which is 5” diagonal with Super AMOLED in 16:9 aspect ratio. There are no keys in the front with the only physical keys being the volume rocker and power keys on the side. Dual Core 1.7 GHz processor makes everything fluid and multitasking great. It comes with a 2 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage. The device weighs under 170g, being a bit on the heavier side. The back cover is removable with a non-removable battery in place. The best part of the device is that its thin and big. Working, browsing and games look amazing on this huge display. Its definitely a win.
Z30 runs on BB10, a beautiful gesture based OS which we absolutely love. It is by far much better than windows phone OS. There are a few very unique features about the OS with our favourite being the keyboard which has contextual auto-correction, next-word prediction and a personalized learning engine that gets to know the way the user types. We found the AppWorld had a decent number of apps comparable to all the basic apps available across other app stores. The standby screen has a notification system which is amazing and the Hub is a great way to keep a track of all the latest updates. All in all, the phone houses features for both play and work with a solid foundation on the channelization and arrangement of data.
This is a bit disappointing. The 8 megapixel auto-focus camera fails to impress us in low light settings. Pictures taken during the day are great but clicking requires learning. It’s not one of the best cameras we’ve seen on a smartphone but then this has been the same story for many android based phones as well. We had been using the camera on a cross country trip and found poor performance in low light conditions. Apart from this there were some amazing aspects as well. Time Shift mode for pinpointing and adjusting individual elements of one’s picture was a great feature. We hope to see more improvements on low light conditions front and many features being added to the native app for more manual control.
2880 mAH is decent enough to carry you through the day but will require frequent charging if you are resource hogging the device. GPS, Screen brightness, Wi-Fi, Games and other settings can greatly affect the battery life. Check out this post for some amazing tips to improve upon the longevity of a single charge.
Z30 scores 7.2 on a 0 to 10 scale. It is truly promising device with advanced business capabilities. The light side of the device too is great with support for many latest games including the addictive Angry Birds Go. We used it on our cross country trip and were impressed. We collaborated en-route using skype, used the navigation feature, played games, watched videos, took pictures, BBM’ed and much more without breaking a sweat or running into any glitch. If it is priced right, the device would simply sell out. On a closing note, we urge BlackBerry to price this device more competitively and increase its carrier reach.