Blackberry Z30 Review

Blackberry Z30 Review
VERDICT:

Buy the BlackBerry Z30 if you are or have been a BlackBerry user and are looking to stay with the company. If watching movies or having the latest apps comes second to using social networking and messaging apps, and you aren’t already invested in any other mobile OS, in that case too, the Z30 will suit you. For the rest who want the latest apps and the best possible multimedia and gaming experiences on a smartphone, there are better alternatives to consider than the Z30.

 
The Design
 
If you’ve seen the BlackBerry Z10, then you’ve seen a smaller and less attractive version of the Z30. The 5-inch BlackBerry improves upon its predecessor’s looks by adding a splash of silver to the bottom of the all-glass, all-black front and taking pointers from the HTC One, which was one fine looking piece of glass (and aluminium). However, on closer inspection, the Z30 does reveal a less premium build than the Z10. For one, the phone is larger and less wieldy. It also has a textured back that feels like rubber but when pried off, reveals itself to be actually thin plastic. On top of that, the Z30 won’t win any awards for being petite or light either.
 

The 5-inch display is something else that disappoints. While many may be comfortable with a 720p display, let me tell you that after subjecting my eyes to the grandeur of the 1080p IPS display of the LG G2, the BlackBerry falls woefully short. Also, for some reason, BlackBerry seems to be drinking from the same bottle as Samsung which has led it to believe that Super AMOLED is the way to go. Sure, Super AMOLED makes content look more vibrant but it’s not the best at portraying accurate colours. Of course, at the end of the day this is subjective, and if you’ve no problems with the uber-colourful displays on Samsung phones, you won’t have a problem with this one either.  

The Performance

So, in my downtime, I use an iPhone 4S that I picked up last year in February. One of things I spend my time on while using the phone is the Alien Blue app for Reddit. Now, since almost every third post Reddit tends to be a GIF, I have learnt to be patient, since it takes close to a minute for a GIF to load on the 4S. For some reason, I brainwashed myself into believing that this was the standard time it takes to open a GIF image on any smartphone. So, once I got the Z30, I installed the Reddit in Motion app, and started browsing. As it happens, and as the Z30 showed me, GIFs aren’t actually the scourge of the Internet and take no more than five seconds to load.

This anecdote quite accurately represents my overall experience while using the BlackBerry Z30. The phone is fast, fast enough to do most things, fast enough to play 1080p MKV videos and not hang and fast enough to play a good looking 3D game (Beach Buggy Blitz) and not come out stricken like a priest who has just failed at an exorcism. In fact, in about a week of use, the phone just hung once, while I was using the camera, and I couldn’t replicate the error afterwards. The dual-core processor will not be bottleneck for performance, at least not right now. However, by opting to go for a dual-core processor, BlackBerry is playing it fast and loose because I can almost assuredly say that this will be a problem that surfaces may be about a year down the line.

Battery life is quite amazing on the Z30 (you can most likely thank the dual-core processor and 720p screen for that) and will easily last you two complete days of normal use. If you push some gaming and movies into the mix, then the phone will need a charge at the end of the day, but that’s still better than many phones out there. Call quality on the Z30 is a mixed bag and inconsistent. Sometimes the phone was able to churn out sharp, clear audio while at times there was audible hissing that distorted voices. However, the speakers on the Z30 are loud and clear both for calls and listening to music. 

 
The Camera
 
You weren’t really planning to buy a BlackBerry phone for its shooting prowess, were you? Well, if you keep that attitude going on for a bit, the Z30 will surprise you, a little bit at least. I wasn’t really expecting much when I put the 8MP camera through its paces and it turned out okay, not up to the mark set by the Lumia 1020 or the Xperia Z1, but okay nevertheless. The Z30’s camera tends to work best when shooting under good light where it keeps a tight lid on noise. However, this performance slips under low light where noise creeps in and photos look less wholesome. Another serious issue is the camera’s inconsistent focus performance. Sometimes, the focusing happens quickly while other times, it just doesn’t lock on to the subject. Things get more annoying when you realise that when you manually focus by tapping the screen, the camera automatically shoots a picture, without letting you set up the scene.  
 
The photos shot by the Z30 don’t really hold up when you compare them to those from the LG G2. The G2 works better with colours when shooting under daylight while it leaves the Z30 far, far behind when it comes to low-light performance. The Z30 compares more favourably to the Nexus 4’s camera performance but still falls short of the latter when it comes to low-light shooting with the Google phone doing better at controlling noise.
 

Photos shot outdoors under daylight (Click to enlarge in new window)

Photos shot indoors under good light (left) and low light (right). Click to enlarge in new window.
Things get better when you switch over to video recording. The Z30 lets you shoot in both 720p and 1080p and the results are good-looking videos that are stutter-free and have great audio capture. Here again, the lighting matters a lot, and you’ll come across sub-par results under low light conditions.
 
Overall, the Z30 maintains the status quo when it comes to BlackBerry and photography but still manages to surprise on occasions. 
 
The Bottomline
 
The BlackBerry Z30 is a very good smartphone, there’s no doubt about it. BlackBerry has very smartly packaged the software and hardware keeping in mind the needs and desires of a typical BlackBerry user while throwing in some new things like the 5-inch display and a quad-core GPU. And therein lies the problem. When confined to the limited universe of former and current BlackBerry users, the Z30 is a phone worth recommending despite its drawbacks but when the boundaries of that universe are broken down to let in all the smartphones, things don’t look good for the BlackBerry. Phones like the Xperia Z1, the LG G2 and the Galaxy S4 offer more and do many things better than the Z30 (for e.g. better displays, more powerful hardware, better app ecosystems), and those things may ultimately matter to buyers without a bias towards BlackBerry.
 
So, to sum it all up, buy the BlackBerry Z30 if you are or have been a BlackBerry user and are looking to stay with the company. If watching movies or having the latest apps comes second to using social networking and messaging apps, and you aren’t already invested in any other mobile OS, in that case too, the Z30 will suit you. For the rest who want the latest apps and the best possible multimedia and gaming experiences on a smartphone, there are better alternatives to consider than the Z30.          

Nikhil Pradhan

Nikhil Pradhan

https://plus.google.com/u/0/101379756352447467333 View Full Profile

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