BlackBerry Z30 Unlocked GSM Smartphone Opens Door to Android Apps

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-06-11 Print this article Print
BlackBerry Z30

The larger screen on the Z30 makes the phone easier to use for some functions, such as using the Web, but because the resolution is the same as the smaller Z10, the effective pixels per inch is lower. For most purposes, the difference isn't significant.

What is significant is that the screen's dynamic range is far better on the Z30, which means blacks are really black, rather than being dark gray as is the case on most phones. BlackBerry has a dark red clock display that you can use in a darkened room, and with the Z30, the dark red clock face appears to be floating in the blackness of space.

The larger screen also makes typing on the Z30 easier than on the Z10, although typing on either device is easier than on most touch-screen devices. BlackBerry's long history in interface design shows, and the excellent predictive typing is even easier to use when you have a larger target for your finger to flick a word into whatever you're typing.

The larger size also enables BlackBerry to use an adaptive antenna design that the company acquired when it bought Paratek in 2012. The new antenna allows the phone to change the calibration on its antennas as dictated by conditions.

This new antenna works well enough that the Z30 was able to maintain communications in weak signal conditions where other phones, including the Z10, were unable to even detect the presence of a signal.

The phone's 2,880-mAh battery enables the phone to keep running far longer than similar devices, even those with smaller screens. I was routinely able to use the Z30 for periods of time exceeding two days of normal use without a charge. My experience with other phones with large screens was that many of them were unable to last for a full day of use. The Z30 includes a battery monitoring application that can show you what apps are using the most power, and you can, if necessary, shut them down to extend your battery even longer.

One problem that had plagued the initial testing of the Z30 turned out not to be a problem with the phone itself, but rather a problem with Microsoft Outlook and its interaction with the Link software that allows you to synchronize the Z30 (or any other BlackBerry device) with your computer.

Somehow, those two applications managed to create a defective contact record with over a thousand data fields. This problem caused the phone to try to integrate that record, which took awhile and used up all of the available CPU capacity. Once that problem was fixed, the phone worked properly. BlackBerry has since revised its software so that it won't attempt to pass such a defective record to the phone in the first place.

While it's true that the Z30 has some of the disadvantages of a larger smartphone, the new BBOS software and the improved hardware make the Z30 an excellent phone. It is, I think, the best BlackBerry yet, even if the larger size means I can't button the pocket on some of my LL Bean shirts.


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