BlackBerry Z30 ReviewBlackBerry Z30 7.5
Interface and functionality
Visually, they’ve paid a great deal of attention in almost every aspect of the platform. So much so, that it boasts some neat looking transitions effects that sprinkle some love to the new UI – such as the cool fading effect when unlocking the device. At the same time, there’s just this consistent fluid performance seen throughout the interface that easily rivals its adversaries. Unfortunately, its personalization is pretty much on the same level as iOS, since we’re only given the ability to change the wallpaper and the layout of the app panel. Compared to Android and Windows Phone, it lacks those personalizing elements to make the look and feel of the UI different between handsets.
BB 10.2 does sport some neat features that make your life easier compared to the other platforms, though, like the sleep screen that shows a big red analog clock in either a portrait and landscape format, which comes neat in the dark hours of the night. This sleep lock screen turns notifications off when activated, and a tap on it can turn the set alarm on/off, or you can edit it directly from the lock screen, without diving into menus.
Following on the same premise, you can get into “Peek View” at any time by simply doing the same gesture (swipe up from the bottom bezel), but this time making sure to hold your finger on the screen and not letting go. In this view, we’re given a quick look at the amount of notifications we have – though technically, you’ll need to traverse over to the BlackBerry Hub to actually see what they are. Honestly, the way BlackBerry 10 handles notifications isn’t as quick or practical, but instead, it seems like there’s more work involved.
Well, that leads us to the hardest gesture to master – the one that gets you into the BlackBerry Hub, which aggregates all notifications, emails, text messages, and missed calls. Essentially, it’s a swipe up from the bottom bezel, then while your finger is still touching the screen, you swipe right to uncover the BlackBerry Hub. As we’ve mentioned already, it seems like a lot of work is involved in just getting access to those notifications, but hey, that’s the way they decided to go. And finally, the last gesture involves swiping down from the top bezel, which will bring up different settings depending on what app you’re running. From the looks of it, the gesture basically replaces the familiar “menu” button function seen with last-gen BlackBerry.
BlackBerry smartphones are typically known for their messaging prowess, especially when many of them employ some killer physical keyboards. Obviously, the Z30 is an all-touch device and relies on a new keyboard layout. No folks, there aren’t any gimmicky novelties this time around, but we’re pleasantly impressed that the on-screen keyboard works well. Not only is the layout ample, but it’s super responsive as well in keeping up with our rate, plus it is really easy to hit the right buttons on the large display.
Furthermore, we also appreciate the useful gestures in play with the keyboard – like doing a swipe down gesture on the keyboard to get access to its different layouts. Still, we would’ve liked to see some numbers and punctuations integrated into the main layout. In addition to its great auto-correct feature, BlackBerry has an interesting way of going about predictive text. Based on context clues in what you’re typing, different words will begin to appear over certain letters on the keyboard – so all you need to do is a swipe up on the specific letter to automatically throw the word into what you’re typing. As much as we appreciate this, we find out pace to be a little bit on the slow side, and quite frankly, we’re faster just typing the old fashion way. Alternatively, there’s also the voice control feature that allows us to speak our words. In our testing, it seems pretty accurate and somewhat faster than relying on the predictive text feature.
Emailing hasn’t changed much with the BlackBerry 10 experience, though, accessing them is still a process on its own. Instead of seeing an email icon or something in the app panel, you’ll need to once again get into the BlackBerry Hub to access them. When it comes to the layout and functionality of the email experience with BlackBerry 10, we don’t find it as comprehensive as Android’s Gmail experience – but hey, it still gets the job done.
Survival hinges on app support, right? Well, if you’re wondering about that, it’s worth mentioning that BlackBerry 10 currently has about 70,000 apps in BlackBerry World. Out of the box, the handset is preloaded with popular ones such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, so it seems poised to have a healthy selection. However, when we compare those apps with the same ones on other platforms, they’re not at complete in terms of feature set. For example, we can’t delete a Facebook post that we accidentally published, which is something you can do with the iOS and Android versions.
As for some of the other third party apps, we weren’t too convinced by them either – such as the third party Pandora client in “Apollo,” which has some significant layout issues. Strangely, there’s a YouTube icon in the app panel, but pressing it doesn’t do anything else except to launch the browser and point us to the mobile friendly version of the site. Speaking truthfully, if these are the kinds of apps that users are going to be exposed to, BlackBerry 10 is going to have a difficult time trying to lure people on other platforms.
Becoming an integral part of any mobile operating system, voice control services are undoubtedly being used by many more people. Sadly though, BlackBerry fails to brings a reasonable competitor with its offering. So what can you do with it? Well, you can send a text, email, or BBM message. Additionally, you can call a contact, schedule an appointment, make a note, and even search things on the internet. Regrettably, it’s not “smart” as Siri or Google Now, such as giving detailed answers to general questions like “who is Michael Jordan?”
Processor and memory
The BlackBerry Z30 sports a decent 1.7 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro Plus MSM8960 processor and 2 GB of RAM in order to ensure the smooth operation of the system. Built-in storage is 16 GB, and if you ever happen to need more, you can always insert a microSD card of up to 64 GB. From basic tasks to more complex things like gaming, we rarely find the BlackBerry Z10 exhibiting any signs of sluggishness.
The BlackBerry Z30 web browser delivers a very good experience, since it’s able to handle even the most multimedia intensive sites with little effort. Not only does it offer instant page rendering on the fly, but that same lovable and consistent fluid performance is also witnessed with its navigational controls – both pinch zooming and page scrolling. Heck, even sites with heavy Flash content are handled fairly well. Displaying a great amount of finesse, the only thing lacking are secondary features. For example, there’s a button to switch between opened tabs, but it would’ve been nice to see some other gestures that would accomplish tab-switching as well.
In terms of connectivity options, the BlackBerry Z30 is well-equipped as it sports LTE and HSPA, along with all necessary Wi-Fi protocols, including 'n' on the 5 GHz band.
In addition, this little bad boy boasts a Micro HDMI (Type D) port, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0, so yeah, we can't complain of a lack of features in this respect.
BlackBerry Z30 Review - Interface and Functionality
|Display||5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (295 ppi) Super AMOLED|
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Dual-core, 1700 MHz, Krait 300 processor
2 GB RAM
|Size||5.53 x 2.83 x 0.37 inches|
(140.7 x 72 x 9.4 mm)
6.00 oz (170 g)
|Battery||2880 mAh, 18 hours talk time|