BlackBerry Z3 review: A robust handset for messaging junkies

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Pros: 

Sturdy construction; Fluid gesture-based interface; Thoughful BlackBerry Hub; Great sound quality.

Cons: 

Disappointing camera; Not ideal for one-handed use.

 

BlackBerry Z3

Street Price: Rs 15,000

Physical QWERTY has always been a strong point for BlackBerry. However, post iPhone era, the world went mad over touchscreens, and BlackBerry started losing its ground. The highly-anticipated Z10 wasn’t a bad phone, but the company goofed-up with the pricing. Now, to win back some marketshare, BlackBerry has rolled out a sensibly priced handset called Z3 that can replace the popular Curve 9320. The new phone offers a full-touch 5-inch screen, latest BB 10.2 OS, and 5 megapixel camera. Let’s find out how good it is.

 

Design

To keep the costs down, BlackBerry has outsourced the Z3 manufacturing process to Foxconn. However, there’s no compromise in terms of quality. Like most BlackBerry handsets, the Z3 is sturdy. Much like the first BB10 OS phone Z10, this one sports an elegant design. The handset features straight lines on sides and sharp edges — perfect for office users. However, the phone is quite big. So one-handed usage is out of question.

 

The materials used for building this phone are top-notch. There’s a textured back-panel that helps with the grip. Since the back-panel doesn’t open, the battery is non-user replaceable. The micro-SIM and microSD card slots are on the right hand side. Bang opposite is a Power button companied by a Volume Rocker and a Mute key. The latter can also trigger Voice Command feature when you press and hold it for a couple of seconds. The front is all glass with no hardware/capacitive buttons.

 

The Z3 is quite hefty at 163 grams, but that’s quite usual for well built phones. For instance, the Lumia 920 tips the scales at 185 grams. Overall, the Z3 is a sturdy handset with a good design. However, its elder sibling the Z10 looks classier. This comparison is inevitable considering the Z10 now sells for around Rs 15,500.

 

Display

The handset packs in 5-inch qHD (540 x 960 pixels) screen. That makes for the pixel density of around 220 ppi. Needless to say, you do get to see a lot of jagged edges. Here, anything near 300 ppi would have been sufficient. The display also lacks Gorilla Glass protection. Other aspects of the screen such as the colour reproduction and viewing angles are quite good.

 

Specifications

The Blackberry Z3 is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset. it comes with Adreno 305 GPU and 1.5 GB RAM. For photography, there’s a 5 megapixel autofocus rear camera with LED flash. it’s capable of recording Full HD 1080p videos. For Skype calls, you get a 1.1 front-facing snapper. Other features include 8 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, and 2500 mAh battery.

Software

The first BB OS 10 phone Z10 launched last year at an atrocious price tag of Rs 44,000. At this cost, it had to be as good as the iPhone, which unfortunately it wasn’t. For Rs 15,000 though, I don’t think there’s much to complain about the Z3’s user experience. In fact, BlackBerry’s platform is more cohesive than the most popular smartphone operating system Android. The transition effects and animations are mostly smooth. However, it does stutter once in a while. In comparison,
the Z10 offered a slightly better experience. That’s probably because the Z10 comes with 2 GB RAM as opposed to the Z3’s 1.5 GB.

The BB 10.2 lacks conventional menu navigation keys. Instead of that, it relies heavily on swipe gestures to get things done. You can unlock the phone with a simple swipe-up gsture form the bottom edge of the screen. When you’re inside an app, the same gesture minimises the app windows and brings you to the multitasking menu.