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Blackberry Z3 Product Review

A beautiful example of design is usually put up on a pedestal for the entire world to see, so we did some digging to find out what is the best looking Smartphone to recently hit the shelves. Much to our surprise, the new Blackberry Z3 has both the design and specs that deserves major props.

The new Blackberry Z3 has been dubbed as the Smartphone for emerging markets for good reason. One of the major reasons being the Z3 will blow your mind with its simple, yet efficient design, which makes this device perfect for those who are looking for a standard Smartphone.

According to the latest production technology news, the Smartphone which hit the market recently was announced by Blackberry and their strategic partner, Foxconn in December. The Z3 embodies all what the Blackberry 10 had to offer and more, making it both a reliable communication device with exceptional features for its price point. Built exclusively for Indonesia, the time between its inception to production was only a few months, so it looks like the partnership worked in the end.

Specifications

Chipset Qualcomm MSM8230 Snapdragon 400

CPU Dual-core 1.2 GHz Krait 200

GPU Adreno 305

540 x 960 pixels, 5.0 inches

1.5 GB RAM

8 GB storage

Bluetooth, Wi Fi connectivity

5 MP camera

BlackBerry 10.2.1 OS

Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7

Non-removable Li-Ion 2500 mAh battery

Up to 384 hours stand-by time

Design & Build

Design and Build

The Blackberry Z3 is not to be considered as your average budget Smartphone, firstly, because the phone does not at all feel cheap, and we would even go as far as saying that the Z3 looks a tad better than Blackberry’s previous offering, the Z30, even though it’s made of plastic.

The 5-inch smartphone has the name “Jakarta” inscribed on the back, because it’s been designed mainly for the Indonesian market. The phone weighs around 164g and measures at 9.3mm in depth, which means that it’s not the slimmest phones around. Nevertheless, the Z3 is sturdy, light and more importantly, durable to say the least. Fan boys of Blackberry will also be pleased to know that the Z3 is made up from the same material as other Blackberry devices, giving it the premium feel we are all used to. The Z3 is a large phone, with a 5-inch display and top and bottom bezels. The back of the Z3 is textured with the usual crosshatch pattern and also has a rectangular bump towards the bottom of the phone for the main speaker. The edges of the Z3 have a slight roll to them this time around, but they aren’t as rounded as the Z10.

The 5-inch screen boasts a 960×540 pixel resolution which is nothing to write home about, but still serves its purpose well. That being said the display of the Z3 does look dimmer and less dense than the 720p AMOLED of the BlackBerry Z30. Overall, the colors on the display screen are vibrant and punchy. All the buttons are placed along the left side, while the right hand side of the phone houses the ports for the micro-SIM and micro SD card. For those who feel like the buttons are a bit of a stretch to use, gestures can be used to wake the screen. This time around, the Blackberry Z3 has ditched the micro HDMI port to obviously cut costs.

Hardware

The Blackberry Z3 features a dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8230 processor with 1.5 GB of RAM and an Adreno 305 graphics processor, nothing fancy, but it works well for the average user. The RAM here is what sells the tickets for the Z3. The 1.5 GB RAM is battery suited for carrying out fast processing so that data travels faster.

OS

The Z3 uses the BB 10.2.1 OS, which has the strong touch of the BB UI along with the Priority Hub. This enables users to organize their content and enables them to stay focused on what’s important to them. The QNX software runs faster with less CPU power too, which makes it snappier than the iPhone 5. Syncing the Z3 with Google is quite terrible. For instance, the iPhone or Android Smartphone will take a few minutes to sync Gmail, the Z3 takes far longer, which is not a big issue, but can be annoying to some.

Features

The Z3 comes with 10.2.1 out of the box, along with APK installations, various themes for icons and UI elements, actionable lock screen notifications and so on. The biggest new feature for the Z3 is that there is no longer a need for users to convert APKs to BARs before side loading Android apps. All users need to do now is download APKs to the local storage and it will be converted to a BlackBerry BAR file, ready to be installed, on the fly. And while Google Play cannot be directly accessed, third party Android stores or Amazon’s Appstore can be used to fill the gap.

The Blackberry Z3 is quick to pin-point the user’s current location; however, maps do take a while to load. Users also have the option to toggle between traffic information as well for selected locations only. The Z3 also offers turn-by-turn navigation which is pretty cool, but the experience cannot be compared to Google Maps. The BlackBerry Z3 supports both tri-band 3G and quad-band 2G. Users also get to have the usual Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS and NFC, minus USBOTG and GLONASS features.

Playing Media Files

The Blackberry Z3 makes playing files simpler not to say that its previous devices made you complete crossword puzzles. It’s just that BlackBerry Link is optional in the Z3, so the phone shows up a portable media device in Windows. And as long as users add their favorite media files in the respective folders, they are instantly recognizable by the respective apps. The audio player doesn’t have an equalizer setting in the Z3, but the quality is quite good even without it.

Blackberry Hub

Blackberry Hub

BlackBerry Hub is a great single-point communication hub while includes instant messaging, e-mail, social networks and breaking news updates. The new feature enables users to instantly filter their message list while on the go. Users can also now customize the Hub as they wish, so flagged messages, drafts, meeting invites, or level 1 alerts can be accessed with a pinch gesture on the Hub’s message list.

Memory

According to the latest production technology news, the BlackBerry Z3 features a micro SD-card slot for up to 64GB storage space. Of the 8 GB of internal memory that the Z3 has, 5.9 GB of it is usable, while the rest has the OS and other important features on it.

The Camera

BlackBerry Z3 features a 5-megapixel primary camera with 5x digital zoom for a little flavor, and a 1.1MP front-facing snapper. The primary camera is capable of recording HD videos, (1080p for the rear camera and 720p for the front camera). And while you cannot expect much from a 5-megapixel camera, it does provide decent shots that are good enough for your Facebook updates and pictures that fit in a postcard sized photo frame.

The Battery

Under the hood, the Blackberry Z3 BlackBerry has a non-removable battery of 2500 mAh capacity, “non-removable” being the keyword here. The battery is able to give up to 15.5 hours of 3G talk time and at least 10 hours of video playback before getting juiced out. The Z3 also has battery optimization features in the operating system. While the non-removable battery isn’t that bad, any attempts to remove the battery can void the warranty.

Our Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, the Z3 is built by Foxconn and jointly designed by BlackBerry and Foxconn, with the Taiwanese ODM taking up supply chain risks. The Z3 is at the low end of the Blackberry 10 line of devices. Due to the superior quality of the design, impressive specs, and affordable price tag, considering the market it was designed for, the Z3 now squarely competes with the Z10, which should have been its more premium predecessor.

Also, features such as, BBM Voice and Video on these phones and BlackBerry’s legacy of using less data, the Z3 is also a very attractive alternative for the Z30, which is considered one of Blackberry’s high end devices. The new Z3 is a welcome addition to the Blackberry line of devices, because of the simple fact that not everybody can afford to sign a two-year contract and be stuck with an expensive plan. This is where Blackberry’s tactic to enter the low-midrange market of off-contract Smartphones can come into play. In the end, the Z3 makes an excellent competitor to other Android/Windows Smartphones of a similar price point and even though it is highly unlikely to ever come to the U.S., the two reasons we would recommend the Blackberry Z3 is because of its large display and very long battery life.

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