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BlackBerry Z30 Review

BlackBerry Z30

Posted: , by Daniel P.




When it comes to snapping photos with the 8 MP shooter, BlackBerry makes it easy to get access to the camera app. First, you can launch it from the lock screen by pressing and holding down your finger on the camera icon in the bottom right corner, which takes much longer than it should, though. Secondly, there’s another icon in the homescreen that’s also placed in the bottom right corner. And finally, you can simply launch it by clicking on the “camera” icon in the app panel.

Sporting a clean layout that’s predominately covered by the viewfinder, there are few icons or buttons littering its interface. Towards the right edge, there’s an icon in the upper right corner that enables us to switch between photos, videos, and its new Time Shift feature. Meanwhile, there’s another icon in the bottom right corner to get into some additional settings and shooting modes – such as burst and stabilization modes. It’s lacking some of the manual modes and comprehensive set of shooting options that other camera UIs offer, like Panorama, for instance.

Furthermore, there’s also some confusion at first when it comes to snapping photos. Since it lacks a physical or on-screen shutter key, you just need to tap anywhere in the viewfinder area to take a snap shot, which is instantaneous. However, there’s a small square box that acts as the UI’s exposure and focus level adjustment. Basically, you have to press and hold down on it to move the box around to a specific area – so yeah, the execution is a bit strange from what we’re typically exposed to. Finally, with the Time Shift feature, it buffers images prior you to snapping a shot, so that you can “travel back in time” to select the best faces from each individual in the shot – ultimately stitching together the perfect one.

Shots taken outdoors with plenty of lighting are decent enough to accept with their average details and subtle oversaturation, which sprinkles a bit of vibrancy to its shots. However, depending on where you position its focus box, images can appear over/under exposed, and there's quite a lot of noise even in sunny conditions. Under low lighting, though, it’s noticeably more speckled looking with its fine details – while an overall graininess is more prevalent throughout the shot. Luckily, its LED flash seems to be potent enough to light up the scenery up to 7 feet away, though, colors appear more washed out in tone.

Likewise, we can say the same thing about its 1080p video recording quality – with nothing that really jumps at us. Needless to say, we like the average details it’s putting out, gradual exposure, and steady frame rate that it delivers. Despite those charming items, there are two specific distracting elements that pop up. First of all, artifacting elements appear and soften it details whenever the camera is transitioning from light to dark areas and vice versa. And secondly, the microphone doesn’t seem to handle the wind too well, as it picks up that and other noisy tones in the background.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
BlackBerry Z30 4
No data
No data
No data
BlackBerry Z10 2.8
No data
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy S4 3.4
Nokia Lumia 925 4.5
No data
View all


Taking a quick peek at the Picture gallery, we’re adept to notice the conventional layout it’s sporting, as images are presented in an all too predictable grid like view. Thankfully though, we’re given some expected functionality with it – such as being able to share them via BBM, email, text message, and even NFC. Moreover, we also appreciate the editing functions that are at our disposal. From cropping to selecting specific artistic filters, it seems considerably extensive than your ordinary picture editor.

Moving onward to the music player, we’re disappointed to see that its presentation doesn’t get the kind of love it needs to appear modern and spiffy looking. Instead, it’s boasting a boring looking style that doesn’t rival some of the cooler looking UIs seen with other Android smartphones – and even the iPhone’s cover flow mode. As usual, we’re presented with the album cover, track information, and on-screen playback controls. Even worse, when it’s minimized and placed in the Active Frames area, we’re not even given playback controls. For that, the mini player is only accessible in the lock screen after the volume buttons are pressed. Setting its volume to the loudest setting, its output is average at best – albeit, there’s a hint of strain coming out of it.

Hardly a shocker to us, the BlackBerry Z30 is equipped to play high definition videos with no problems. Aside from the swift and steady playback, it’s worth mentioning that it supports a wide array of video codecs out of the box – these include H.264, MPEG-4, DivX and Xvid. Sure, the sharp looking display aids the experience, but it doesn’t have the same wow factor as some other handsets. Also, it’s somewhat disappointing to know that there is no mini player feature that many other devices provide – like being able to play a video in the background while doing something else.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
BlackBerry Z30 0.35
Samsung Galaxy S4 0.38
Nokia Lumia 925 0.43
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
BlackBerry Z30 75
BlackBerry Z10 74
Samsung Galaxy S4 77
Nokia Lumia 925 75
View all

  • 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: 2035; 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: 696; 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: 2035; 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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