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BlackBerry Z30 Review

BlackBerry Z30

Posted: , by Daniel P.



Interface and functionality

BB 10 OS is snappy, visually-polished and very fluid — just as every contemporary mobile OS should be — but it's hard for us to see why one should prefer it to iOS or Android, or even Windows Phone, especially when we know that BBM is coming to those other platforms (except for WP).

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.

Looking at the phone, there isn’t a home button or icon that many are familiar with pressing that returns them to the homescreen. Rather, the homescreen is comprised of three distinct panels – the apps panel, active frames panel, and the Blackberry Hub. Swiping left/right at the homescreen will get you into any of them, but when you’re in an actual app, executing a swipe up gesture from the bottom bezel and then releasing your finger “minimizes” the app and places it as an Active Frame in the homescreen. Indeed, it’s BlackBerry’s take on the whole multi-tasking thing, which might not seem as intuitive as what’s seen on other platforms, but it nonetheless gets the job done.

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.


The BlackBerry Hub is at the heart of the messaging experience in BB 10 and the Z30. It's basically an always-on application that's found in the leftmost end of the homescreen. The BB Hub integrates all of your communication activities including text messages, email, calls and notifications. It's a cool concept that you can always return to the BlackBerry Hub from anywhere else in the OS by doing a swipe up and then right gesture, though that one is a bit difficult to master.

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.

Internet and connectivity

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.

  • Options

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 07:05 1

1. TwentyWendy (banned) (Posts: 65; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)

LOL 7.5 :)

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 08:51 5

10. phonebuddy (Posts: 2; Member since: 10 Oct 2013)

"Well, that leads us to the hardest gesture to master – the one that gets you into the BlackBerry Hub, which.... ....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." - how hard do you think is it? I mastered my alphabet before going to school and I think the 26 letters in the alphabet have so much more stroke than the one going to the hub.

posted on 12 Oct 2013, 03:45 3

24. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

Yeah guys 7.5 is really low
9 would be justified

posted on 12 Oct 2013, 03:46 3

25. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

I don't know what's wrong with galaxyarena

posted on 12 Oct 2013, 04:02 3

26. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

The app count doesn't.make sense
Don't you know it can download android apps

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 05:34 3

29. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

This is an amazing device
The "howdowerate" is junk 7.5 for this beast
It must get at least get 9 and the z10 must get 8.5
Both are fantabulously awesoming

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 15:01 2

19. AnTuTu (Posts: 1580; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)

This is very good looking and well built device. I don't know whats wrong with iPhonearena.

Just a little advise BB, let other hardware manufacturers us your BB10 platform.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 05:42 3

31. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

And who told PA that wp8 is better than bb os
Wp8 looks well in laptops but not in smartphones

This is my fifth continuous comment...lol

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 07:09 2

2. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

2 cons at 7.5. Wtf is up with PA reviews this past month seriously?

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 07:36 2

7. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

The second con is a huge one. Blackberry's low app count is a major reason it's not a compelling platform.

Granted, low app count hasn't affected their reviews before (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, PALM PRE REVIEW)...

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 05:36 1

30. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

Commentator, this is not football
This device is amazing

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 07:18 2

4. papss (unregistered)

Hmm this review seems off. I don't like bb at all but come on

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 07:24 1

5. TheM16 (Posts: 80; Member since: 14 Aug 2013)

Great phone ...now using it with Z1...no cpmplains

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 07:32 1

6. Smokin (Posts: 120; Member since: 10 Oct 2013)

cmon PA

BBs are great phone.

It should be atleast 8.

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 08:03 2

8. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

The good battery life is amplified by the fact that, unlike Androids and iPhones, there's so little you can do on a BB that it'll stay in your pocket most of the time.

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 08:30 1

9. GadgetsMcGoo (Posts: 168; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)

You don't get any instant messages or emails? Even from work? You should get some friends and maybe a job or something.

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 09:11

12. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

In your pathetic attempt to belittle me, my joke went way over your soft little head.

My joke (which apparently you need to be explained to you) is that if you were worried about your battery not lasting long enough throughout the day, because you were constantly using it to play Angry Birds or Words With Friends, or chatting with Snapchat, or sharing pictures with Instagram, or watching videos on Netflix, well...

You don't have to worry about that because you can't do any of that on a BB. Email and messaging don't take much battery juice, so your battery will last a good long time, because your BB won't be much use for anything else (not anything fun, anyway).

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 19:19 2

22. GadgetsMcGoo (Posts: 168; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)

No. Your passive aggressive snide "joke" was not missed.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:46 2

32. Xtasy (Posts: 284; Member since: 13 Jan 2013)

WOW! you are a complete dummy lol

I have a Blackberry Z10 and it can do all those things.. I don't need Netflix cuz I get much better movies and load it to my phone and watch it from there.. Are u serious? A BB can do all those things and more.. With this multi tasking beast u will find me doing a few things at a time with such ease.. No phone can match up to this lol

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 08:55 3

11. E.S.1 (Posts: 307; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)

The score should be closer to 8.5.
Blackberry is for business. Lot of people don't need apps, music, videos, movies or games, nor should they pay for that trivia on business phones.

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 09:19 4

13. phonebuddy (Posts: 2; Member since: 10 Oct 2013)

exactly! you are buying this phone because of the built in features that it posses and not the apps that you can install later

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 09:56

14. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

That logic makes no sense. The Z30 costs as much as flagship Androids or iPhones, yet is severely limited by its woeful app selection. Same data plan charges as well.

Would you pay complete-package prices for cable/satellite TV for ony the basic channels? Would you pay the price for a 42 function Swiss Army Knife for one that only has 12 functions? $500 on a blender with only one speed when you can get a Blendtec?

You talk about built-in features? Android and iOS have the "built-in" feature of hundreds of thosands of apps and games, whereas BB has a scant fraction of that, and is missing most of the popular ones.

What can you do on a BB that you can't do on an iPhone or Android? Oh yeah...BBM. But that's coming soon anyway.

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 10:49 1

33. Xtasy (Posts: 284; Member since: 13 Jan 2013)

Wrong! I use my phone for entertainment all the time.. who are u kidding? BB has it all now.. and makes it so much easier with the fantastic keyboard and multi tasking that beats them all.. On top of that we got a play button.. and can easily change tracks without opening the screen.. why is it that no phone has these options? so sad.. and don't tell me S4 has better options cuz I've seen them and it's a joke haha

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 19:45

34. maccess (Posts: 742; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)

no you're a joke.. you've "seen" the s4.. but not used it.. so shut up.. don't embarrased yourself..

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 10:24 3

15. jellmoo (Posts: 2042; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

Isn't it at least worth a mention that you can side load a fair amount of Android apps in order to help with the overall low app number issue?

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 10:49

16. isprobi (Posts: 699; Member since: 30 May 2011)

Use a PlayOn client and server if you want more media like Netflix. The volume buttons work as a camera shutter key. I consistently get better signal reception on my Z10 than my friends with Android and iPhone and stay on LTE. And the Z30 adds ParaTek technology for even better reception but that was not even mentioned. Gestures are not hard just different than poking buttons. I hope there is a landscape dock for this like I have for my Z10.

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 12:59 2

17. toystore (Posts: 17; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)

it has 1.7 GHz dual core not 1.5 GHz, PA don't even know the spec and try to reivew phone. LOL

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 13:10 4

18. toystore (Posts: 17; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)

PA 2013 standard point system,
Android flaghip device 9 to 10
Mid tire Android 8 to 9
iPhone 9 to 9.5
Windows Phone 8 to 9
blackberry 7 to 7.5
rest 7 and below
They rated Moto X 8.5 which has same spec as Z30 lower build quality and Android 4.3 which is not even close to BB 10.2

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 16:47 2

20. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Moto X clearly is overall a better phone... I still think the Z30 should have received at least a 8.5 considering you can side load apps from Android.

posted on 10 Oct 2013, 17:18 3

21. jellmoo (Posts: 2042; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

I wouldn't say "clearly". I think that there is enough give and take between the two devices that it mostly comes down to personal preference and what you need from your handset.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (295 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera8 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Dual-core, 1700 MHz, Krait 300 processor
Size5.53 x 2.83 x 0.37 inches
(140.7 x 72 x 9.4 mm)
6.00 oz  (170 g)
Battery2880 mAh, 18 hours talk time

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