BlackBerry Z30 Hands-On Impressions: Better Performance and a Huge Screen

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EDITOR NOTE: The following is sent in by a friend of mine that has early access to devices as he works in IT. I’m reposting this under my name because he’s obviously under NDA. Personally, I’ve played around with the Z30 a little, but not enough to write an impressions post.

I was a bit skeptical when I started hearing about a big touch screen BlackBerry. I’m not too keen on the notion that powerful has to be big but when I actually felt the Z30 in my hands, it felt familiar. I had played with the Galaxy line up to the latest version and I always found the format bulky in the hand. I was a big fan of the PlayBook for its size, and after many manufacturers followed without admitting that when BlackBerry referred to the book/novel size as perfect, they were actually right.

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But a smartphone that we slide into our pocket, why are we always going bigger? Well after manipulating one, I can admit that I’m thinking about it. The BlackBerry Z30 has a nice feel to it, the rounded side fits perfectly in my small hand, and that might be why I wasn’t fan of big phones.

The back has the same finish as the Q10 and the white version will have the same plastic back as the Z10/Q10. The screen is bright and blacks are very pronounced so it gives the Z30 a huge boost in contrasts when viewing photos and text.

The power has also been increased. The BlackBerry Z30 uses the same processor as the Q10, but with more kick in speed at 1.7GHZ and with the help of the QuadCore Adreno 320 GPU. For RAM and internal storage, everything is kept the same and is plenty for now, especially since you can add an SD Card to the mix for all the media files that can take lots of space.

The camera on the Z30 was kept at 8MP, but I’m anxious to see what software features they will add to the camera app. There is a face-focus feature spotted, but I know that software processing can make a big difference, as seen in quality increase between 10.0 and 10.1 camera app. With the extra processing power, I hope we see more apps that take advantage of and make the camera better.

The battery has also been increased significantly but is non-removable. I can hear the cries: “how will I do a battery pull when the device crashes?”. Well you won’t have too as the power button can actually force shut the device on BlackBerry 10. You can also use the tickle-trick to restart the hub (swipe your finger in the top right corner, 5 times toward the center, like you’re tickling it). Hopefully all of this is a moot point as we’ve heard 10.2 has a lot of OS polishing included in it. Personally, I haven’t had any issues with 10.2 as I did in 10.0 or 10.1. There have been some reports of random reboots caused by Android apps, but that’s not BlackBerry’s fault necessarily. While the battery isn’t removable, the back is removable to give you access to the SD card and SIM slot. We should also expect accessories such as the flip cover that is available on the Galaxy Series from Samsung.

Thoughts On OS 10.2

Priority Hub

The Priority Hub is another self-learning feature that makes your day easier. Anyone with your last name will be included, since it assumes they’re part of your family, and family is important. The Priority Hub will also mark as priority the conversations that have been going back and forth so it will be easier to flag important emails and messages of high importance. There are no actual configurations required to get the Priority hub up and running, but you can turn the feature off if it’s not your thing.

The Blackberry Hub icon has been added to the homescreen and while I personally found it a little redundant, I’ve heard some say this feature is amazing if you aren’t big on the gestures. It seems like BlackBerry is really listening to its users in this respect.

The overall speed, especially when loading an Android ported app, is phenomenal compared to what it was before. Developers porting apps shouldn’t be scared about seeing their apps get crippled by performance issues. To all developers out there: port away!

The BlackBerry Maps app is also more accurate when finding places nearby. I rarely get hits in other parts of the world. You can now use it in landscape mode when viewing or using the GPS navigation feature and on the Z30 screen you just feel like driving across the continent.

Conclusion

BlackBerry has done a great job creating a comfortable and powerful device. The OS has pretty much all of its quirks taken out and runs smoothly like a mature platform should, even if it’s not even a year old. Now, if people can try it instead of just taking the info they hear on the news, they will notice that this is not the old BlackBerry anymore, and changes are not scary at all when done right.

  • robert_

    Great write up. Can’t wait to give this bad boy a go and test out the signal / battery (important for me).