Thursday, 31 July 2014

Blackberry Z3 Review: The Only Budget Blackberry 10 Smartphone

The Blackberry Z3 is the first Blackberry 10 device targeted specifically at the mid-range budget smartphone market. It is intended to give consumers similar Blackberry 10 experience at an attractive price point. It is intended to be replacement for the Blackberry Z10. But does it achieve its purpose?

Large 5-inch screen gives it a premium look; very fluid UI navigation regardless of the RAM allocation.
Display sucksunder direct sunlight; battery life is surprisingly uninspiring.
Whats New/Different ?
The Blackberry Z3 is essentially a biggersized version of the Blackberry Z10. It could also easily pass for Blackberry Z30 without the curved edges. But its what is inside that really matters.
Spec-for-spec, the Z3 is actually inferior tothe Z10. At 164 g, it is heavier than the Z10, has less RAM (1.5GB < 2GB), internal memory (8GB < 16GB) and camera resolution (5MP 1800 mAh) and graphics processing, at least on paper.
Take note that unlike the Blackberry Z10, the Blackbery Z3s battery is non-removable. For this reason, the SIM and SD card slot are at the side of the device. You want to make sure you follow the directions on the manual before attempting to insert the SIM or SD card.
The Blackberry Z3 ships with Blackberry OS 10.2.1 which includes a few minor tweaks, bug fixes and major new additions like Wi-Fi direct, FM Radio and support for direct installation of Android apks. They still havent found an automatic fix to that nasty phonebookissue. I wonder if they ever will. There are a few things that still bug me about the Blackberry 10 OS though. I hope to explain them in detail in a separate post.
Performance and Apps
Performance is well above average. There tends to be the occasional lag but its not unbearable.
Third party apps are still generally lacking on the BB10 platform. The Blackberry Z3 comes pre-installed withFacebook, Twitter and Evernote.
I mentioned earlier that theBlackberry 10 OS (thankfully) supports direct installation of Android apps. There are at least 3 options to installing Android apps on Blackberry 10. The easiest option is toinstall via the Amazon Android App Store. But you wont find all the Android apps you are looking for.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you canfollow these steps to install Snap of your device. Snap is an unofficial Google Playstore client for Blackberry 10. Every app you can access on the Google Play store can be found on Snap.
Lastly, if you dont have the patience for installing app stores, you can just get Android apks from the wild and sideload themdirectly yourself. NotAndroid apps will work perfectly on the Blackberry Z3 though. Dont even get me started on the manyissues I have been experience using Feedly and WordPress on the Blackberry Z3. Im still in shock from finding out there is no official native WordPress app for Blackberry 10. How did that happen?
The Blackberry Z3 comes with a 2500 mAh (non-removable) battery so naturally, one would expect it to perform well. On the contrary, its a disappointment. Not that battery life is horrible, its just that for a battery of its capacity, I was kind of expecting more. Standby time is average and battery test results are quite below expectation. Duringmy Intensive Everyday usage test, results of which I published earlier, I was only able to get a measly 6 hours out of the battery before it dropped to 10%
I have sincecarried out my customary Endurance Test on the device. Iplayed a high resolution (720p) video on constant loop, with 75% screen brightness, loud speakers at full volumeand 3G mobile internet always on. It took 9 hours 20 minutes to drainthe battery to10%. Not necessarily a bad result, but not as great as I would have expected.
The Blackberry Z3 spots a 5MP primary camera with auto focus and LED flash, capable of recording full 1080p resolution videos. The front camera is 1.1MP and can record 720p videos. Camera quality isnot particularly horrible, but its not mind-blowing either. Like I always insist, I have used better 5MP phone cameras in the past.
Here are some sample still shots from the Blackberry Z3s camera:
Outdoor natural lighting
Indoor, artificial lighting
Indoor, lots of artificial lighting
The Blackberry Z3 camera doesnt handle excessive lighting very well.
Indoor, natural lighting
Outdoor, low lighting (with flash)
Its in situations like this the LED flash shines.
Indoor, minimal lighting
I could decide to get all techy in analysing the photos above but of what use would that be? What matters is if the camera meets your current needs. If all you are going to use it for is to show your friends photos you took while at the beach yesterday, or for social media updates, the Blackberry Z3s camera is more than capable.
The Verdict
For app junkies, the Blackberry Z3 could well bea source of frustration or delight,depending on your specific demand in apps. Some really essential apps are missing and their Android versions just dont work well on Blackberry. Business oriented users will love the Blackberry Z3 for how well it handles emails. Combined with Blackberry Hub and Blackberry OS fluid UI navigation, it is definitelya multi-taskers dream. But such level of activity will definitely require more battery life, something the Blackberry Z3 is quite deficient at.
In all, the Blackberry Z3 will not win the award for the best Blackberry device ever. And while I cant particularly justify the 39k price point, it is a considerablycapable device that any Blackberry fan would be happy to have.
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