Z30 from Blackberry shows off the Jekyll and Hyde of the company

Blackberry is an interesting case study. As a blogger reviewing its devices, particularly the new Z10 and Q10 earlier this year I was impressed about how the new devices stacked up against Apple and Android devices. The BB10 operating system launched in January of this year was a serious step forward from iOS and Android at the time and Blackberry seemed to be re-establishing its place as a premier smartphone maker.

Launching in Canada one month ago The new Z30 is attempting to carry that torch now and is equally impressive with its large screen and blazing fast speeds on Telus 4G LTE network.  My previous frustrations using the 9360 have all but been erased with these new phones particularly the Z30.

But as a follower of the company formerly known as RIM, I’m still scratching my head as the company continues its downward spiral as one wonders how much longer it will be around. Blackberry faces an uphill battle against waning consumer sentiment and some drastic changes within the manufacturer. I’m guessing Z30 has a lot riding on it given the state of the company now. It’s a great phone that doesn’t disappoint but I wonder how many more of these phones we will see before it’s so long Blackberry.

Screen Size and Battery Power

That aside, I’m going to focus on evaluating this product objectively because the newer z10 and Q10 models were great to Z30use. I’m starting with display because that is a focus of everyone these days, screen size and quality. Samsung users always mock me with my iPhone saying their screens are bigger and better. The BlackBerry Z30 display trumps both the iPhone and the Galaxy S4 in my book. I love this display. So easy to look and the colors are rich and warm. Blackberry lists it as a 5inch screen and that is the largest on any device ever released by the company. Samsung products like the Galaxy Note 3 come in at 5.7 inches but I find those a bit bulky at times. The Z30 gives you the nice screen without the extra bulk.

BlackBerry advertises 25 hours of mixed use battery life. This is further broken down into 18 hours talk time, 16 days standby, 90 hours of audio playback, and 12 hours of video playback. I did use this phone for an hour at a time on my morning commute, moving between apps, the web and phone. I was using the LTE network with a Telus SIM card provided to me and I did not push the battery that hard on this phone.The draw on the battery would be greater if on the outskirts of cell coverage so you should push the battery life to see how the Z30 stands up.

BlackBerry Z30 software

Having used the Z10 and Q10 I’m used to the BB10 software platform which is substantially different from iOS. Having recently upgraded to iOS 7 on my iPhone, I noticed how the “hook” gestures have been nicely lifted for newer versions from BB10.While I wasn’t used to them on the Q10, I must admit i love them now. This hook gesture means that you start from the bottom of the screen and swipe up and to the right. It takes a bit of practice but I could not live without it now. The OS also looks and feels better than Android. I find Android based devices to be the weakest between Blackberry, Apple and Android from a UI standpoint. Blackberry does do this very well, with Apple’s iOS in second. They also have tutorials on gestures that are found on their website.

Typing on the BlackBerry Z30

The QWERTY keyboard was such a huge part of the Blackberry brand for a long time that they released the Q10 to satisfy demand for the traditional physical keyboard. I’ve never needed a physical keyboard to type on any smartphone and I’d rather having a bigger screen to look at while not typing. The Z30 is a lot better I think than the Z10 and Q10 phones for typing and it uses the virtual keyboard. You can also use gesture-heavy typing for deleting earlier words, picking predictions for new ones, or hiding and summoning the keyboard.

BlackBerry 10 apps

While using the Z30 I’ve attempted to load as many of the apps on my iPhone onto any other phone I review. I like to see if I can make a seamless transition to another OS with minimal interruption. The fact that Blackberry lags so far behind iOS and Android is well-known now so there is no need to belabor the point here. There is the option to port apps via Android and I should have explored this option more. I should have pushed a little harder to do this so any comments from people who have done this is welcome.

We know that the popular Instagram isn’t available and I went through an Instagram phase but have begun to use it less and less. Blackberry does offer Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Twitter already installed on the Z30 and this is a nice bonus. They tie nicely into the Hub as well and it is great to go straight to the Hub to look at associated messaging.


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