Feature set summary for BlackBerry Z30 review
Being able to connect to USB devices is great for business users, plus media fans will be pleased to see HDMI out included as standard – even the support for Jelly Bean app could make Android users look again…
Style and handling summary for BlackBerry Z30 review
The glass screen looks good but the other components are plasticky – and not everyone will like the pattern on the back of the device.
Battery power summary for BlackBerry Z30 review
The larger 2880mAH battery is an improvement on the disappointing one included in the Z10 – but that’s good news because you can’t take it out and replace with a spare.
Performance summary for BlackBerry Z30 review
Under the hood sits a dual-core chip – not as powerful as many we see nowadays – but performance doesn’t seem to suffer.
User friendliness summary for BlackBerry Z30 review
The operating system of choice is BB10.2 OS, which is really easy to get to grips with after a short while. We would have liked to see the power button on the side of the handset though.> >
BlackBerry Z30 Review Scoring Summary
|Style & Handling|
Impressive battery life; Android Jelly Bean app support; USB connection.
Full Review and Specification for the BlackBerry Z30
It took a year, but BlackBerry finally brought out its much awaited BB10 operating system in early 2013 – and its weapon in the battle to make a mark in the Android and Apple dominated market was the BlackBerry Z10. Sadly, it didn’t manage to win that fight, despite the sharp 4.2in display and eight megapixel snapper coupled with its smooth BB10 interface. The problem was it had no standout features and was hampered by a lack of apps. So can the BlackBerry Z30 fare better?
The improvements made to the Blackberry OS are what is going to help the Z30 make its mark. BB 10.2 offers a number of neat features that improve usability, many of them really aimed at business users, but just as appealing to consumers. One example is the calendar app, which buzzes just before you are due to go into a meeting. Now it can message everyone linked to the conversation should you be running late. Of course it also works if you want to let your mates know that you’ll be late to the pub.
Blackberry has also made some improvements to the priority hub, which aggregates all your important messages in one place. Messages are rated according to usage, but you can also edit their status yourself. The handset then learns from your actions, so you’ll see your important messages automatically head to the top of the list.
A nifty ‘Attachments’ view allows you to see all the files you have been sent – so you can get that e-ticket to a show or gig without having to open the email.
With ‘instant previews’, you’ll see banners at the top of the display, so you won’t miss an important message. They can be tailored for apps such as Twitter, Facebook, email and so on. BBM and SMS notifications can even be replied to without even opening up the app first. It would be fantastic if this functionality could be added to other programmes.
Looks-wise the Z30 has a simple, clean look – a feature it shares with the HTC One, which has won awards for its design. But here it just doesn’t work so well. It’s not an ugly handset by any means, but if you’re paying £500 for it you do expect more… The HTC managed to mix the metallic look with its design to create a highly desirable handset – here the Z30 tries to please both business and consumer users and falls short.
However, where the Z30 does win is with the glass that stretches from edge to edge – but because the handset is made from plastic rather than metal, it doesn’t look like the premium phone it should. Also the back cover is covered with a mottled grey pattern that doesn’t impress us.
While the Z30 does look similar to the Z10, some pretty important changes have been made. The Z30 is both weightier and bigger overall than the Z10, coming in at 170g and measuring 141 x 72 x 9.4mm. The reason for the extra weight is that the screen has grown from 4.2 inches to five inches.
The pixel count has gone down, from 356ppi to 295ppi, but it doesn’t make so much of a difference and you still get clear, bright images – it’s even possible to output your high-def video to a TV thanks to a Micro HDMI connection.
Under the hood there are more changes – the dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm MSM8960T Pro processor ensures the Z30 has smooth performance, combined with the BB10 operating system. Programmes opened with no lag and multi-tasking is a breeze.
It is, though, a pity that the power button sits on the top of the handset, as it’s hard to get it going with one hand.
Another big change that’s not visible is the battery – the largest yet to feature on a BlackBerry. You can’t remove it, but it promises 25 hours of use – and it was really quick to charge. Video streaming lasted for an impressive 10 hours before the juice ran out.
Also under the hood is the new Paratek antenna technology, which saw us getting a full five bars on the handset, where other phones were only just managing to get three.
The snapper hasn’t had any upgrades and while it produces good daylight shots, the quality drops as the light fades. Settings are pretty basic when compared with those on other smartphones, although autofocus has been tweaked and works well on still images, bringing us clear images even at macro levels. Unfortunately in video mode, the auto mode function keeps dropping in and out.
A little extra
One of the most useful features on the BB10.2 OS is the USB host functionality. You can plug a flash drive into the handset via a micro USB to USB adapter – so you might not have to carry that laptop about. The Z30 has this feature but apparently other handsets that upgrade to BB10.2 won’t benefit from it – so for business users this could be a big draw for the Z30.
Another standout feature is that it is possible to side-load Android Jelly bean apps. This is a great antidote to the lack of BB apps that has hampered the BlackBerry handsets so far. You will need to work out how to find the apps and convert them, but it is worth doing. We did find it hard to get some games working though.
The Z30 now addresses some of the problems with the Z10, and the upgrades to the operating system have helped too. It’s really helpful to be able to connect USB devices and being able to run Android Jelly Bean apps addresses the issue of the dearth of BlackBerry apps.
The main problem is that the Z30 is just too pricey – if it was £150 less, we would recommend it without hesitation, but you could buy an iPhone 5S or HTC One for the same price, which makes it tricky to recommend.
BlackBerry Z30 Specification
Dimensions : 140.7x72x9.4mm
Screen size: 5 inch AMOLED display
Screen Resolution: 1280*720 pixels
Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : TBC
Processor: Dual-core 1.7 Ghz processor
Battery capacity : 2880 mAH battery
Onboard Memory: 16GB (microSD support)
Camera : 8 mega-pixel camera (2 mega-pixel front-facing)
Operating system: BlackBerry 10.2
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE : Yes/Yes/Yes
Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/Yes
Colours : Black
Launch Date: Available Now
Price : £500
By Kevin Thomas on 29th October, 2013