At a time when it is downsizing and preparing for a possible change of guard, BlackBerry Ltd’s introduction of the Z30 is being seen as the company’s last shot to regain its foothold in the smartphone market. While launching the Z30 – aimed at the youth – BlackBerry India MD Sunil Lalvani said, “We are here to stay. We have zero debt. We are not going down financially. We will remain loyal to our customers.” But can the Rs 39,990-Z30 beat other devices offered at the same price?
BlackBerry Z30 comes with BB10.2 OS, a much improved version of the original BB10 that was launched in January. It has a host of useful features such as Priority Hub, which detects what contacts are important to you, and displays messages across your email and social networking applications on priority basis. Another good feature is pop-up notifications. When using an app, previews of new BBM messages, emails and other notifications appear on top of the screen. There’s also a Priority Inbox for emails. The feature provides a reply option in the pop-up which eliminates the need to switch between apps. The BB10.2 update is available for other BB10 phones (Z10 and Q5) too.
BUILD & DESIGN
BlackBerry Z30 sports a five-inch screen, a 1,280x780-pixel display and a pixel density of 295 ppi. Although the number is considerably lesser than competing phones of Apple or Samsung, users won’t be disappointed with the sharpness, clarity and colour reproduction of the Z30.
The phone’s rubberised back panel gives it a premium look and feel. It can be removed to insert the external memory card and micro-SIM. However, the battery cannot be removed. Volume buttons are placed on the right side and power button and headphone jack on the top. Users can also unlock the screen by swiping from bottom to top. MicroUSB (for charging) and microHDMI (for plugging into bigger screens) ports are located on the left edge.
The device is sturdy. The screen barely got any scratch marks despite being kept in the pocket with keys, pen and loose change.
Under the hood, the Z30 has a 1.7 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM and 16GB built-in memory. The new OS, coupled with the processor and quad-core GPU, ensures a smooth performance. We faced occasional lags, and at times, the touchscreen was unresponsive. But while multi-tasking, BB10.2 offered a hassle-free experience.
The Z30 has exceptionally loud audio output, both while listening to music and taking calls. The device has four microphones, of which two are placed below the volume rocker, thus adding to voice clarity. While taking a call, you might unknowingly cover those two microphones with your fingers but that doesn’t affect voice clarity. The headphones that come with the phone work well. You may want to replace them for better audio experience though.
On the video front, the phone doesn’t disappoint. The Z30 has a 2-megapixel front camera and an 8-MP rear camera. The rear camera performs well in bright environments but suffers in poorly-lit places. Colour reproduction and details are impressive in well-lit areas. Although the HDR camera mode gives better pictures, it is slow. So, users will have to be patient for the “perfect shot”.
BlackBerry Z30’s 2880mAH battery lasts over a day on moderate usage comprising photography, videos, browsing and calls. The phone takes a long time — over a minute — to power on. A major complaint is the lack of good apps on the BlackBerry World app store. If you use a lot of apps, then BB10 is not the platform for you at the moment.
A good phone is no longer defined by great hardware and smooth user interface. The ecosystem is a big factor in defining a phone’s success these days. Even though the Z30 is a good upgrade to the Z10, it lacks the ecosystem to draw users. The delay in developing a good OS for app makers has cost BlackBerry dear.
For a company trying to resurrect itself, BlackBerry has made a good phone. But it might not be enough to keep it in business.