Blackberry Z30: Pre Review and Event Conclusion

BlackBerry, a Canadian phone manufacturer, has declined over the years. The only hope for BlackBerry was the BlackBerry OS 10 which is based on the QNX platform. People bought a BlackBerry device only for BBM even after BBOS 10, which failed miserably in the consumer market. Recently, Blackberry also launched BBM for Android and iOS which made buying a BlackBerry even more useless. But still BlackBerry think they can come back to the market, and they are not wrong until they have enough cash to keep going. BlackBerry has reported poor profits in the past quarters and even a bunch of unsold BB10 devices.

BlackBerry still has something to show the world, the Z30. BlackBerry is pretty confident for this device, as we saw in the India launch event. BlackBerry sent out invites for the India Z30 Launch event last week for the event on 24th Oct 2013. We attended the event to bring you the latest news from BlackBerry.

BlackBerry showed off many features that make BlackBerry Z30 one of a kind, and those features were really useful and not like Samsung that puts features that are just to “show off” and not really useful in the real life. The new features that BB showed off at the event were something that can and will be used in the real life.

“BlackBerry Z30 is the ultimate smartphone for the urban youth and consumers who are looking for a bigger screen size, long-lasting battery and a best in class productivity experience,” said BlackBerry India Managing Director Sunil Lalvani.

BlackBerry is clearly targeting business users and youth in the country with such statements. This was the video we were shown:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LVxz5jhkgg]

Quick Specifications of Z30:

Processor Dual Core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Processor with Quad Core GPU
Memory 2GB RAM + 16GB Flash + Hot Swappable MicroSD slot up to SDXC UHS-I
Expandable Memory MicroSD
Display 5”, 720p  display, 295 PPI, 24 bit Color, 16:9, Super AMOLED
Network Connectivity 4G LTE support for global roaming
Rear Facing Camera 8MP Auto-Focus, Back Side Illumination, 5 element F2.2 lens, Flash, continuous & touch to focus, image stabilization, Proprietary Enhanced Super, Resolution Digital Zoom (5x), 1080p HD video recording
Front Facing Camera 2MP Fixed-Focus, Image & video stabilization, 3x digital zoom, 720p HD video recording
GPS Assisted, Autonomous and Simultaneous GPS
Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy
Dedicated Keys Volume Up/Down, Mute, Lock(Power On/Off)
Notification Tone, vibrate, on-screen or LED indicator; notification options are user configurable
Voice Input/output Dual integrated stereo speakers, multiple microphones, Hands-freeheadset capable, Bluetooth headset capable, Integrated Hands-Free Speakerphone
Advanced Sensors Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Proximity, Gyroscope, Ambient Light Sensor
Headset 3.5 mm stereo
Ports and Connectivity USB 2.0 High Speed – USB port allows charging and data synchronization of the device with a USB “A” to micro-USB “B” cable, USB OTG, Micro HDMI, NFC, Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) Server
Power Adapter +5V DC / 850 mA AC power adapter
Battery 2880 mAh non-removable battery
Battery Life
  • Talk time: Up to 18 hours UMTS/14 hours GSM
  • Standby time: Up to 16 Days
  • Music: Up to 90 hours
  • Video: Up to 12 hours
Wi- Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz/5GHz, 4G Mobile Hotspot
Dimensions 140.7 x 72 x 9.4 mm
Weight 170g

BlackBerry also announced that it saw more than 10 Million downloads of BBM on Android and iOS in the first 24 hours of launch. This is to note that, it clearly signifies that users want BBM more than BlackBerry. That’s one major reason why BlackBerry is falling down in the consumer market.

Design

The new design of the Z30 is appealing and ergonomic is many ways. It does feel large enough sometimes, but it also makes it more productive and worthy to use. It measures a sizable 140mm long, 72mm wide and 9.4mm thick, making it just a little longer than the Samsung Galaxy S4, and that’s due to the additional space at the top and bottom of the Z30’s screen.

The Z30 looks mostly like what Z10 looks like, except the overall size. Most of the objects on the device are placed on exactly the same place as they were in Z10. If you look at the camera, it looks exactly the same as before. Though, the quality and resolution has been upped with a noticeable change.

BlackBerry also replaced the back cover with something what seems like Carbon Fiber that we have seen before on the Q10.  BlackBerry says that it’s highly resistant to scratches and scuffs. It certainly put up well with that but the screen is prone to visible fingerprints.

Around the edges you’ll find the volume and power buttons, a micro-USB port for data transfer and charging and a mini-HDMI port for hooking it up to a bigger display.

Display

Z30 packs a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1280×720, giving a pixel density of 295 pixels per inch. That’s a major step down from Full HD displays seen on other flagships such as HTC One and the Galaxy S 4, but in everyday use that won’t be visible much. The screen looks crisp and reproduces colors well, with a little touch of blue as we have seen with other Super AMOLED devices. The display has deep black levels for satisfying contrast. Personally, I feel the brightness was too low for such a device, that’s a major down of this device from my side.

The BlackBerry Things

BlackBerry’s made some minor, yet notable tweaks to the Z30, most of which should make it a better buy for its target enterprise users and less for the consumers. The company’s built this device with a better antenna with what Blackberry calls “Antenna Gain Technology” but just seems to be dual-antenna, allowing for improved reception in low signal areas and faster data rate. BlackBerry also showed an audio enhancement technology what it calls Natural Sound: audio enhancement for BBM voice and video chats. On the software front, BBOS 10.2 has got a new Hub called BB Priority Hub, a feature which is very similar to Gmail Priority Inbox, except BlackBerry’s implementation indexes your emails, texts and BBMs, and your social profile and communications. But what’s likely to be the most useful BB10 enhancement for BlackBerry users is 10.2’s ability to preview messages throughout the UI and on the lockscreen. And this being BlackBerry, BBM messages can even be directly replied from whatever app a user is in.

Besides all these things, the latest version of BBOS will add more refinement to communication. The BlackBerry keyboard now supports ‘Hinglish’ as input option, which is the first-of-its-kind feature in the domestic market. We have seen this is third-party keyboard software such as Swiftkey. Not just ‘Hinglish’ was added, BBOS 10.2 now supports much more input options and an improved prediction.

Little more things?

BlackBerry has put up a 2,880mAh bettery into the Z30, which in fact gives a pretty good battery life. BlackBerry claims you can get around 18 hours of talk time or 25 hours of “mixed use” from the phone.

On the back of the phone is an 8-megapixel camera, which I found to be pretty good. The photos captured with the device are attached here, have a look at them yourself. The photos seem to be a little noisy yet pretty good as compared to other similar end phones.

One of the main issues with BlackBerry 10 is its app store, which remains rather poorly stocked. You’ll barely find any app that you recognize early. Also, only some of the developers are pushing majority of apps, making the quality of the app store even poor. If you love to use apps, you should stay away from Z30.

Verdict

If you are a die hard BlackBerry fan, this is good for you. If you want apps and more productivity, going with a high-end Android device is anyways a better option.

BlackBerry Z30 is originally priced at Rs 44,990 but will be sold for Rs 39,990 in India in festive season from 28th October 2013 across the country. BlackBerry has not made any clear comments on the price change on the device. BlackBerry also said that Z10 is available currently at festive prices.

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