Interface & Functionality
The phone comes with the latest version of the platform i.e. BlackBerry 10.2 that offers only few subtle improvements. This new platform is snappish, visually polished and very fluid just as it should be.
From the visual aspect, the company has paid a great deal of attention to the extent that it boasts some neat looking transitions effects that shower some love to the new user interface – for example, the cool fading effect while unlocking the device. However, the Z30 lacks in those personalization element that you may find in Android and Windows phones. You can only change the wallpaper and the layout of the app panel.
Generally speaking, the platform or user interface of the Z30 is very easy to pick up for anyone who has used a smartphone before. However, there will be a learning curve for those who are coming from BlackBerry 7, but the company has provided certain useful tutorials to help them get started with the basic gestures required for navigation.
The optimizations the BlackBerry 10.2 brings include bunch of new features such as lockscreen notification preview, improved typing experience, a new Priority Hub and Attachment view and toast notifications for quick view and reply.
In a nutshell, we can say that the new BB operating system has incorporated bits and pieces not only from Web OS but also from Meego (swipes and back grounding), as well as from Android (some contextual menus), and last but not the least from iOS i.e. their rich elaborate graphics.
The BlackBerry Z30 is the first phone that ships with BlackBerry OS 10.2. It does not come as a surprise to see that the biggest improvements in Z30 are aimed at the enterprise set since the company's renewed focus is on business customers. These improvements embrace the ability to preview messages on the lock screen, the creation of the Priority Hub and BBM now becoming ubiquitous. Well, it is worth mentioning here that there are approximately 70,000 apps in BlackBerry World. And, the handset is preloaded with some most popular apps out of the box. These include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare. In addition, users can glance at the headers of the four most recently received emails right from their locked screens, and even the full text of their last four Twitter messages -- just by pushing the corresponding icon.
Now, let’s come to the Priority Hub which basically is a homegrown version of Google's Priority Inbox. Going over the main points, it selects email messages from senders that you regularly converse with and label them as “Important” so that you can quickly access them. You then can access the Priority Hub as one of the options in the hub, next to BBM, Text messages or Facebook missives.
Camera – Photos & Videos
The BlackBerry Z30 features an 8-megapixel sensor that sits on its back and performs a swift and agile job of taking high quality photographs on the fly. The phone comes with an LED flash that is present with the 8 MP main camera and there is a secondary 2MP camera as well. Both the cameras can record HD videos - 1080p for the main camera and 720p for the front-facing one.
Furthermore, the company makes it so easy to access the camera app. You can launch it by from the lock screen by pressing and holding down your finger on the camera icon. Alternatively, the homescreen has another icon that you can use to launch camera. Finally, you can access camera app by clicking on the camera icon in the app panel.
The camera interface is simple and easy to use, and looks pretty familiar at first. It comes with all the necessary options that you would expect in a smartphone such as scene mode toggle, shooting models, geo-tagging and digital zoom to name a few. There are three shooting models that Z30 offers - Stills, Video and Time shift.
Image quality of its 8 MP camera is pleasantly amazing. There is plenty of fine detail and not too much sharpening going around. Exposure and contrast are also good enough. Photos that are taken outdoors are decent enough with plenty of lighting to accept with their average details and subtle oversaturation. This showers a bit of liveliness to its shots. Nevertheless, based on the position of its focus box, can appear over or under exposed. Plus, there will be loads of noise even in sunny conditions.
When you switch to video mode the user interface still remains the same just only options available will be changed. You can still access digital image stabilization and pick from the preset scenes. The main camera can shoot 1080p or 720p videos (720p is picked by default), while the front-facing camera can do only 720p. Video quality is also very good. Clips recorded are smooth at a consistent 30fps and with plenty of fine details. There’s no visible noise though colors are again oversaturated.
Picture gallery is sporting the conventional layout that you will notice at first as images are presented in an all too predictable grid like view. Appreciatively, we are imparted some predictable functionality with it for example, sharing via BBM, email, text message, and even NFC.
Editing functions that are being offered in Z30 should also be appreciated. Starting from cropping to choosing particular artistic filters, it appears substantially broad than your regular picture editor.
Music player may disappoint you as its presentation is not that appealing as it should be in order to appear modern and dashing. Rather, the music player features an uninteresting looking style that doesn’t match some of the cooler looking UIs seen with other Android smartphones – and even the iPhone’s cover flow mode.
The device is capable of playing high definition videos with no problems. It’s worth mentioning here that it supports a wide range of video codecs that include H.264, MPEG-4, DivX and Xvid. Though, there is no mini player feature that you can find in many other devices.
Now, coming towards its call quality – the main important thing of any phone. The voices arrive with decent quality in the earpiece of the device, although its maximum volume is relatively low which means if you are in a noisy environment, you may have difficulty in hearing the caller.
The handset's noise-canceling mics comb out the close sounds and pass on our voice relatively louder to the other side, however, make it sound a bit empty and vague, hence, taken as a whole, we have an average call quality on the BlackBerry Z30.
Should I Buy The BlackBerry Z30?
The BlackBerry Z30 offers a dazzling display, responsive 5-inch touchscreen with valuable sound improvements and of course a much better and improved operating system that makes it a great smartphone. The BlackBerry 10.2 software enhancement will definitely please users of all types, in general and BlackBerry physical keyboard users who are using touchscreen for the first time, in particular.
The phone has many things in its favor, though a shortcoming is the lack of a removable battery in addition to the really long boot time. Despite the fact that, we are always full of praise for phones with a strong battery but we cannot be universal in our praise as there are many small things that add up to a frustrating experience. The phone lacks removable battery though it provide 18 hours of talk time in 3G mode, which is 50% higher than the average, and signify you can expect about two days of endurance from the Z30 with normal usage.
Generally speaking, a practical person need to be hard pressed to get his hands on the BlackBerry Z30 at the $600+ price, bearing in mind that's the tag for flagship handsets on other mobile platforms are more proven as compared to BB 10 and have a great number of available app. Only exception that you are tired of the Android / iOS/ WP mafia and want to explore a fresh new interface take like BB 10.