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Blackberry Z30 hands-on review

We try out the Canadian firm's 5in Blackberry 10 smartphone
Thu Sep 26 2013, 13:07

CANADIAN PHONE MAKER Blackberry, given recent revelations, must be betting quite a lot on the success of its latest flagship smartphone, the Blackberry Z30.

Set to go on sale priced at £600, the Blackberry Z30 is the firm's highest-end Blackberry 10 smartphone to date, but given the lacklustre demand for its Blackberry Z10 predecessor, it remains to be seen whether it will be successful.

Blackberry clearly has pulled out all the stops with the Z30, configuring the handset with a 5in AMOLED screen, its latest Blackberry 10.2 (BB10) mobile operating system and a much more robust casing than its Blackberry Z10 predecessor. 

Design
The Blackberry Z30 is the company's largest smartphone to date. The handset measures 141x72x9.4mm and weighs 150g, making it heavier than Nokia's Lumia 1020 smartphone.

We haven't been using the Z30 for long, but we're already finding the device tricky to hold comfortably in the hand, and due to the large size of the screen, we've found it almost impossible to use one-handed, especially given the gesture driven Blackberry 10 user interface.

Blackberry Z30 next to the Blackberry Q10 and Z10

While it's not all that practical, the Blackberry Z30 is much more blessed in the looks department than its Blackberry Z10 predecessor. The firm got rid of the flimsy plastic back found on its first full touchscreen BB10 smartphone, and has replaced it with a glass-weave battery cover, the same material found on the Blackberry Q10.

This back gives the Blackberry Z30 a much more expensive, sophisticated feel, and if it's anything like its QWERTY sibling, it's likely to be resistant against spills and scratches.

Screen
The Blackberry Z30 features a 5in 720x1280 resolution display with a pixel density of 294ppi. 

On first impressions, the display on the Blackberry Z30 is good - blacks are deep, colours vibrant and the onboard Super AMOLED technology should make for reasonable battery life. However, with a pixel density of 294ppi the Blackberry Z30 pales in comparison to its competitors, with the iPhone 5S sporting a 326ppi screen, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 a 441ppi display. 

While most users won't notice a big difference in quality between the Blackberry Z30 and the iPhone 5S or Galaxy S4, it makes it hard to justify the handset's £600 SIM-free price. 

Performance and operating system
The Blackberry Z30 features dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snadragon S4 processor. So far we've noticed no lack of performance, although we find the Blackberry 10 operating system noticeably less nippy than its iOS, Android and Windows Phone competitors. At £600, we'd have liked Blackberry to put a quad-core processor in the Z30. 

Blackberry Z30 has a 5in HD Super AMOLED display

The Z30 runs the firm's Blackberry 10.2 mobile operating system, which adds some new features. Chief among these are lock screen alerts, Priority Hub, and the ability to respond to BBM messages while using another app. At the moment, it's fair to say we don't get that many BBM messages, but this could change with the planned rollout of the firm's iOS and Android applications. 

In general, thanks to its Blackberry 10 operating system, the Z30 is great for performing tasks such as emailing, multitasking and document creation. However, with its lacklustre app offering and complex set up process, we think the phone is likely to struggle to win over customers.

First impressions
We'll reserve our judgment about the Blackberry Z30 until our full review, as we have still to test its 8MP rear-facing camera, 2,880mAh battery and built-in Miracast support.

On first impression however, we haven't been overwhelmed by the Blackberry Z30 yet. While the design is much improved and the 5in screen is a welcome addition, we're not convinced that the firm is going to win Z30 customers, given the handset's not so popular software. µ

 

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