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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?

Other quick functions have been added to the lock screen, such as an icon that will launch the camera app. When the camera's launched, its shutter is activated by touching anywhere on the display.

Also from the lock screen, you can swipe down from the top to activate the sleep mode in the device, with an analog clock face appearing on the display that can be used as an alarm clock — and you can set the clock from the lock screen. Notifications are automatically turned off when in this mode.

A distinguishing feature of the earlier OS version was the BlackBerry Hub, which acted as a universal inbox for email, text, BBM messages, other social media and updates from third-party apps. You swipe up and to the right to get to the Hub, and reverse the gesture to go back to what you were doing.

A new addition, Priority Hub, now allows users to get notifications and emails based on software that follows your prior conversations to see which people are important to you. If 100 emails arrive in an hour, Priority Hub will sort the most important ones for you to see under a separate tab, or you can arrange to have them put in the BlackBerry Hub message stream with a priority icon.

Priority is given to emails and messages in three ways: from people with your same last name; from people who have marked an email with "high priority" and from those who are responding to a conversation that you started. Users have the ability to turn each of the three on or off.

Another great improvement: Notifications — including BBM messages— come in a preview on the top of the display no matter what app or Web page you are in. You can tap to reply, or click an X to dismiss it. It even works with voice calls — you can either take the call or dismiss the call with a swipe and have a quick pre-arranged response message (such as "I'm busy and I can't take your call") sent to the caller via text, BBM or email.

For first-timers on BlackBerry 10 devices, there are more in-screen instructions with 10.2, saying things like, "Swipe to the left" to reach another function.

All the achievements of BlackBerry 10.0 are still in 10.2, especially the Balance software that works with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. With Balance, corporate data remains inside a work perimeter on the Z30 that can be managed by IT staffers, while personal data, apps, photos and other content stay in a personal perimeter (outside of IT control). The calendar app and the Hub in the Z30 can contain both work and personal information, and users can launch apps from both the work and personal sides of the device and multitask between them.


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