Blackberry shoot for mid-range
Blackberry Z3 detailed review
The BlackBerry Z3 enters the market at a time when phone makers, after focusing on the top-end for a long time, have realized the importance of the budget / mid-range segment. With the launch of good (and sometimes exceptional) phones like the Motorola Moto G, the line-up of Nokia’s Windows Phones and the rivalry of Indian phone makers like Micromax and Xolo, that part falls into the rupee. 10,000 and Rs. 20,000 It did not live for years.
The BlackBerry Z3, priced at 15 15,990, is a confident device that shows you don’t need to be powered by either Microsoft or Google’s operating system for both a hard, paid price and a device that can challenge a certain amount. Traditional limitations that phones in this segment suffer.
The Looks and Builds
Even if you are not a fan of BlackBerry phones, you will find it hard to deny that Z3 is one of the best built and premium looking phones in terms of price. The Z3 is bigger, as most phones are accustomed to today, and despite its exclusive reliance on plastic, its build quality is strong and sturdy. The Z3 has a textured non-removable back panel that helps you hold a grip on the phone. The rear side is set in the lower left corner with a 5MP camera and flash speaker grille. The device has a 5-inch display on the front, 1.1 MP front camera, BlackBerry logo and … that’s it. The left spine has power / lock, volume and voice control buttons, while the right spine has a flap that hides the microSD and micro SIM slots.
The Z3 is not the thinnest phone but despite its thickness and overall size, the phone looks relatively light, its 164 grams does not make it really heavy or difficult to handle. The phone is also good to look at and chances are unless you tell someone how much it actually costs, their guess will be much higher than the actual price-tag.
The Z3’s 5-inch screen is colorful, accurate but bound by a resolution of 960×540 pixels. This is understandable due to the price of the phone but sometimes five inches seems to be too much real estate to cover that resolution. However, there is not much to complain about the screen except the tendency to lose visibility under direct sunlight.
The BlackBerry Z3 runs on the BlackBerry 10.2.1 OS and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor, an Adreno 305 GPU and 1.5GB of RAM. All this works on a 2,500mAh battery.
The BB10 has been around for a while and if you have already made up your mind about it, it won’t really change your mind (to see more about how the BB10 works and what we think about it, read our BlackBerry Z30 review). The BB10, the Z3, has a mobile OS that primarily focuses on communication, be it via email, messaging, Facebook or Twitter or phone calls. As a result, the phone is ready to allow you to quickly access all of the above from anywhere on the phone, even if you are inside an app. This ‘hub’, called the BlackBerry, can be accessed by swiping to the right and top of the homescreen and to the right inside any app.
Hub (left) and on-screen notifications (right)
The new version of the BB10 on the Z3 has some new features, including actionable notifications on the lockscreen and notifications popping up at the top of the screen.
You need to rely on the BlackBerry World App Store or third party Android App Store for your apps. In the former case, you’ll find lots of apps (BlackBerry claims over 100,000) but you’ll see some big missing names. In the latter case, you will be able to install almost any Android app but you cannot be 100% sure if the app works. For example, we have installed Dead Trigger 2 (from 1Mobile Market app store) but the game will not run. If you are thinking of getting Z3 for the ability to run Android apps, be aware of this.
Performance and usability
The Z3 never made it clear that it was running on a dual-core processor. Phone performance is smooth and lag-free even when switching to and from the app. One problem with cropping is that due to its large size, swiping gestures from the edge of the screen can be difficult if you do not have particularly large hands. Thus, the Z3 does not require two-handed operation.
The Z3’s 5MP camera continues BlackBerry’s tradition of packing irresistible shooters on their phones. On the plus side, the camera launches quickly and takes very little time to take multiple pictures. There are built-in filters and editing options to ‘enhance’ captured photos with a time shift mode that lets you choose the best from a series of shots taken each time you take a photo. The Story Maker feature also lets you sew photos and videos together to create a single beautiful video.
Below are some photos we clicked with Z3. Click on an image to enlarge it in a new window
Images shot outside in daylight show extra-aggressive noise reduction and decent white balance.
Pictures taken inside the house were noisy, although popped in low-light colors
The battery life of the Z3 is affected and we have seen the phone in use for about a day and a half including a few calls, time on Facebook, about 20 minutes of gaming and camera usage. Another thing that fascinated us was the Z3’s keyboard which is one of the best touchscreen keyboards in the business. The keyboard isn’t really accurate and fast, adding support for commonly used Hinglish words in BlackBerry phone dictionaries.
The Z3’s speakers were surprisingly soft during the call but it worked well in terms of music. Overall, the Z3 is a good phone for music especially since it makes it easy to buy music directly from the BlackBerry World Store.
The BlackBerry Z3 makes a strong case for Canadian phone makers in the mid-range segment. This is far from the usual way to keep the price of BlackBerry phones very high and as a result it is worth recommending it as a phone priced at Rs. 15,990, if you want a bigger screen, though lower prices can make it a better deal. About Rs. 16,500, the BlackBerry Z10 is a significantly better buy if you’re right with its 4.2-in screen. Aside from the Blackberry, you might want to consider the Motorola Moto G and Nokia Lumia 720.