By: Anil Satapathy, The Mobile Indian, New Delhi
Last updated : Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 16:37
Available for around Rs 40,000, the BlackBerry Z30 comes with pretty tough hardware.
BlackBerry Natural Sound technology
BlackBerry Z30, which is currently available for around Rs 40,000, is the flagship smartphone of the Canadian handset maker. The Z30 is the first phablet of BlackBerry, which is otherwise known for its physical Qwerty keypad based devices. The Z30 is thus BlackBerry's first experiment with the phablet segment which seems to rule the roost in the mobile phone market.
So has BlackBerry Z30 the essential traits to become a champion of the phablet segment? Is it worth buying for Rs 40,000? Does it possess serious challenges to flagship phones of other companies like iPhone 5s, HTC One, LG Optimus G2, or Samsung Galaxy S4?
With all these questions in mind, we started the review of the BlackBerry Z30 a fortnight ago and here is what we have discovered during the process.
BlackBerry Z30 is a well-crafted handset which enthuse confidence of its durability. It though isn't jazzy, the Z30 is made to appeal executives and those who want something sober.
First of all, the Z30 has a big 5 inch display, at the bottom of which there is a silver colour metallic panel which also covers the sides of the handset. This silver bar at the bottom breaks the monotony of the black display well. The back panel is made of very strong plastic and has dual colour tone as well that looks classy as well as stylish but most importantly, the rear panel fits well and gives an impression of a non-removable back panel. The back panel harbours the classic BlackBerry logo which further adds to its looks. The camera and the LED flash are located at the top left of the rear panel.
Strangely, though the back panel is removable, the battery is not. The 64 GB micro SD card slot and the SIM slot are accessible after you remove the rear panel. The front part do not have any keys - soft or physical. The volume rocker is at the right hand side. In between the volume rockers, there is a key that launches the BlackBerry personal assistant - something like Apple's Siri. The micro USB cur charger port and the mini-HDMI ports are in the left hand side. The power button and the 3.5 mm jack are at the top.
The phone is 9.3 mm thick and weighs 170 grams which sounds a bit on the heavier side but one has to forget the same as it has a big 2880 mAh battery. Due to its weight and compact design, The Z30 feels like a brick in the hand. The rubberised finished rear panel gives excellent grip. Moreover, the rear panel is scratch resistant as well.
All in all, the BlackBerry Z30 though is on the heavier side, thanks to its overall construction as stated above, is relatively easy to use than many other its competitors.
The BlackBerry Z30 has a 5 inch display. The Super Amoled display comes with high definition resolution (1280x720 pixels) which translates to 295 ppi pixel density. The display has decent brightness and good colour output. The display of Z30 is to some extent smudge resistant but is not scratch resistant. However, many a times it failed to respond to our touch commands which probably due to the lack of power from processor point of view.
As I said earlier, the BlackBerry Z30 has no physical button or touch button as you will find in an Android handset. Thus all the commands are based on display itself.
The BlackBerry Z30 comes with BlackBerry 10.2 operating system. Since, there is no physical or touch based back button, it requires gestures to exit from any task - just swipe from bottom to up and you will reach the home screen. If you swipe from towards the right you will see the app icons while swiping towards the right will bring the recently opened tasks and the BlackBerry Hub - which is nothing but a compilation of notifications and messages (text, Facebook, Twitter, BBM etc) and mails (Gmail, Yahoomail..etc). Swiping from top to bottom brings the setting tab.
Though the user interface sounds aristocratic, it is not exactly user friendly. For instance, though you can see Bluetooth, WiFi, Alarm shortcuts in the notification bar, to change their status you have to go to the settings page (in Android, it is a matter of just one click). Also, the swiping gestures though sounds upper class, needs some practice initially. Moreover, the swiping gesture does not respond well while playing games; you need to do the gesture by the rules books to get the result. Also, the swiping gesture also creates problems while playing games (for instance while playing Stick tennis I had to swipe in different directions which sometime resulted in closing of the game). Once mastered though, you will like the gesture controls more than the control system in Android.
A notable and the best aspect of BlackBerry Z30 is its on-screen keypad. Never for a moment it let me felt that I am using a touch screen based keypad. The keypad is made in such a way that it learns from your typing, so the more you type the more it learns about you and helps you typing faster. But above all, it is perhaps the best touchscreen keypad to have featured in a mobile phone.
BlackBerry Z30 has huge 16 GB internal memory and there is an expandable storage slot as well which can accommodate a micro SD card of up to 64 GB.
The Z30 comes with an 8 megapixel auto focus rear camera. The camera comes armed with BSI sensor for low-light photography. It has a 5 element f2.2 lens and 5x digital zoom facility.
The camera app is pretty simple - at the top there is icons for still picture, video and one for face detection mode.
The rear camera does a decent job in capturing colours and details, without overdoing. As far as macro photography is concerned, the Z30 can also capture details well from a point of about 10 cm. It also does a good job when it comes to low light photography. Below are some pictures that will give you a decent idea about its capability; note that we have captured in the default mode. I was especially impressed with its face detection mode which allows you to choose the final picture. The camera app is pretty fast as well.
BlackBerry Z30 has also a good 2 megapixel fixed focus front camera. For the front camera also, there is image and video stabilization features. Plus, there is 3x digital zoom for the front camera and it said to be able to capture HD videos but in a nutshell, the front camera is a good one but not something extraordinary - same can be said about the front camera as well.
Processing capability & other performance
The BlackBerry Z30 comes with the 1.7 GHz dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro MSM8960T processor. It is assisted by Adreno 320 graphics processing unit and 2 GB RAM. The phone has BlackBerry 10.2 operating system version.
At a time of octa core processors, this dual core processor certainly looks mediocre but it does the job quite well with the help of the huge 2 GB RAM. The phone managed to run heavy games like Real Racing 3 with ease. Even I managed to play 4 games at a time. However, on several occasions it showed some lag, and especially when I switched on its Magnify Mode (which allows pinch to zoom action anywhere in the screen no matter which app you have opened)
BlackBerry Z30 does a pretty good job when it comes to battery. As per BlackBerry, its 2880 mAh battery 25 hours of life with mixed use, or 14 hours of GSM talktime, or 20 hours of music, or 12 hours of video playback.
There wasn't much deviation in the real life as well. I used to keep WiFi on throughout the day, around an hour of games, and few minutes of call and with that usage it managed to stay alive more than 24 hours.
Images by Sushil Kumar
There was a time when BlackBerry's name used to reverberate words like perfection, premium, best of the best etc. But the Z30's experience does not leave any such memories. True it is beautifully crafted; its OS is much more sophisticated; but a bit of hardware alternative would make it more user friendly. For instance a hardware button for voice assistant is okay but users should have been allowed to change the key's function. BlackBerry should need to work more on the UI as well as compared to Android, one has to pass though one or two steps more to do something.