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BlackBerry Z30 deep-dive review: Upgraded software in a great 5-in. smartphone

Matt Hamblen | Nov. 12, 2013
The Z30 is new and improved for both enterprise and individual use -- but can BlackBerry stick around long enough to make it matter?

Be aware that the battery can't be removed like the one in the Z10. On the other hand, the Z30 offers Qi technology for wireless charging.

Amazing display
I'm a big fan of big displays and the 5 in. Z30 screen might be just about ideal for me. The Z30 uses a Super AMOLED display that's rated at 1280 x 720 pixels with 295 pixels per inch (ppi). That's actually a lower resolution that the Z10 had at 356ppi, but I couldn't notice any difference.

BlackBerry said it used a different material in producing the Z30 display, which helps make the images appear clearer and brighter. Also, BlackBerry improved color density and contrast to make the screen more vibrant than that of the Z10 or other 5-in. displays on the market. Even so, BlackBerry says its Z30 screen uses 20% less power than the Z10.

The Z30's 5-in. display makes it easier to use features such as BlackBerry's Hub, which lets you swipe apps in and out.

There are other changes in the user interface that help the clarity in the display, such as shading on some of the smaller notification text. I know that I would never be able to read text that small on my iPhone, but the shading and other factors made it possible — even effortless — to do so on the Z30 without glasses. The display and these contrast improvements are nothing short of amazing.

Touch response and BlackBerry's processors
Touch responsiveness in the Z30 is better than that in the Z10, and was very consistent over many hours of use over several days. This is probably the result of many factors, including the use of a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. (There's also a QuadCore Adreno 320 GPU.)

The Snapdragon S4 Pro in the Z30 is only dual-core, even though Qualcomm makes a version of the Pro in a quad-core version. A BlackBerry spokesperson said the dual-core processor was used in the Z30 because it optimizes battery life and doesn't substantially degrade performance when compared to the quad core in performance tests. BlackBerry chose a quad-core graphics chip to improve speed and fluidity — and it certainly works.

Improved sound
Four microphone ports (up from two in the Z10) are around the edges. Two tiny ports are on the edge below the volume control (for noise cancellation), another is at the top of the lower silver trim on the front, and the fourth is on the top edge. There are two speaker ports at the bottom edge, and another at the top edge, which is combined with the top mic and a fourth speaker at the top of the glass front.

 

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