Mister Mobility's BlackBerry Z30 Review

Z30 with case

I have used the Z30 as my primary smartphone for over a month now, and I am ready with my verdict.

The Quick Verdict

The BlackBerry Z30 is a beautiful piece of hardware. It looks and feels premium. The display is gorgeous. Audio reproduction on the stereo speakers is stunning. The user interface is superb and really nice. But…the BB10.2 OS still needs tweaking in many ways. Battery life is awesome, so if you have that uppermost on your list, you should consider the Z30. If you are addicted to crackberry, it is the best available now and you should go for it. But other than that, many competing smartphones in its class offer much more.

Pros:
– Sleek design and good feel
– Gorgeous 5-inch display
– Class-leading audio output via rear stereo speakers
– Superb battery life

Cons:
– Smaller apps catalogue than competing devices
– BB10.2 OS needs tweaking some more
– More expensive than competing devices

Now, for those who love to have more details, sit back and enjoy my account of what using the Z30 has been like.

Hardware

As I have mentioned earlier, what strikes you first about the Z30 are its appearance and feel. Both reflect quality and attention. The Z30 looks good and feels sturdy. The body is slim and nice at only 9.4mm thickness. The 5-inch display is absolutely gorgeous. While the phone is listed as weighing 170g, it didn’t feel that heavy. In fact, I had to cross-check different listings of the specs to be sure that the official figure is 170g.

In the sales pack is a pair of headsets, USB cable, charging adaptor, and a leather case.

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Performance

The quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM power things nicely for the most part, but there are moments of a slight lag. This reinforces my suspicion that BB10 is resource-intensive, which is why we are not seeing it on low-end devices yet.

Telephony & Internet

BlackBerry advertises the Z30 as having a “Paratek Antenna” – with the claim that this provides better connectivity in low signal areas, resulting in faster data transfers and fewer dropped calls in low signal areas. I do not honestly think that I noticed any difference in the phone’s ability to hold on to a signal. It isn’t terrible, but it lost and picked signals pretty much like most other phones that I have tested.

When a signal is available though, internet speeds were awesome, and it delivered powerfully on even 3.9G broadband networks.

Note though that while BlackBerry has designed OS10 to work with generic internet plans, it all boils down to your mobile operator. Glo, for example, have the odd position that you cannot use a generic internet plan on your BB10 device. You have to subscribe for a dedicated BB10 plan. That makes it difficult for people switching from another platform to a BB10 device and who have an active data plan.

Storage

There is 16GB internal storage and a microSD card slot that supports up to 32GB cards. Connect the Z30 to a PC and it is recognised as a hard drive. Copying and pasting files across the Z30 and PC was smooth.

Multimedia

If there is a strong forte of the Z30, it is multimedia. Once you have listened to music on the awesome stereo speakers, you will never want to listen to music or watch videos on any other smartphone without stereo speakers. It is simply awesome! Video playback is very nice too on the beautiful 5-inch display.

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Camera

The Z30’s 8 megapixel camera does not belong to the best in class. It is okay, but it just does not produce similar levels of details as the top dogs in the same class do. There is an LED flash for night shots, but unless you are taking close-ups, it isn’t of much use in the dark.

Battery Life

The Z30 is a sturdy horse in terms of battery life. The 2,880 mAh battery just keeps going – often holding out till the next day on a full charge. The Z30 is one of the few smartphones that belong in the worry-free zone with respect to battery life. Just charge it and have no care. You are covered for the day.

BlackBerry 10.2

BlackBerry 10 is nice. It is a truly unique OS with a user interface that is a joy to use after the initial learning curve. When I have another phone in my hand, I find myself executing gestures – and get stumped why it doesn’t work. Then I remember that I am not holding the Z30. BlackBerry Hub unifies all your notifications and messages in one place, and you can peek at them from wherever you are on the phone. BlackBerry Hub is an excellent concept and well implemented.

BlackBerry Hub

The on-screen QWERTY keyboard is really good, though the dictionary is almost useless. There are too many common words that it does not recognise. The good thing is that you can add new words to the database so that it improves with use.

However, it is far from being very stable. From email server errors that do not go away till the phone is restarted, to the camera not launching occasionally (until the phone is again restarted), to the Contacts app duplicating and triplicating my contacts and muddling everything up, BB10.2 still needs some polishing.

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The app ecosystem is not as huge as what obtains on Windows Phone, Android and iOS, but it has the most essential apps, and if you are not an app junkie, you should have no worries. BBM is there naturally, and there have been none of the sluggishness when I used BBM Groups on legacy BlackBerry devices. Certainly a good improvement. As BBM is now cross-platform, you can connect with your friends on Android and iOS. A Windows Phone version is rumoured to be in the works. WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds, and many of the popular apps are on board and work well.

Conclusions

I love the Z30. I love the BB10 user interface. People keep asking me if the Z30 can save BlackBerry. No; it won’t save BlackBerry (in my opinion, BlackBerry’s saviour has to be an affordable, competitively-priced smartphone). Not by a long shot. But it certainly shines in more ways than one. By the way, the BlackBerry Z30 currently costs about N95,000 in the market.

Mo Rating: 8.0/10

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

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