BlackBerry Z30 review
BlackBerry’s first entry into the small tablet / big phone market gets about half of the key decisions right, but a high price, poor call quality and crash-prone software ultimately make it an also-ran.
- Long battery life
- Comfortable to hold
- BB10 well-suited to a big screen
- Buggy, crash-prone software
- Middling camera
Let's be honest: it's not a great time to be BlackBerry right now. Each morning brings yet more news stories that hint -- no, scream -- at the company's rapid unraveling. In the nine days following the announcement of the Z30, the company halted its BBM rollout and announced plans to fire 4,500 employees. Meanwhile, T-Mobile withdrew retail support, Motorola started sniffing around BlackBerry's top talent and its manufacturing partner looked for an exit. Finally, BlackBerry entered into a sale agreement, and the company had to concede that it lost a billion dollars on unsold Z10 handsets. So, what does all of this make the Z30?
There had been plenty of rumors ahead of time that suggested BlackBerry would launch a phablet. The 5-inch Z30, however, isn't big enough to warrant that name, and the company itself has positioned the device as the flagship for the holiday season. That means the handset dodges comparisons with devices like the Galaxy Note, but instead stands in the line of fire between the iPhone 5s, Galaxy S 4, HTC One and Lumia 1020. Unlike those other devices, however, the Z30 isn't packing any flashy, headline-grabbing specs, nor does it offer bleeding-edge internals that will excite performance nuts. There's also the looming question of whether this hardware will make it over to the US in a timely fashion, as BlackBerry has only confirmed that it'll launch in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the UK (priced at £500 off-contract).
It's almost redundant to ask if this is the device that will save BlackBerry. After all, with the uncertainty surrounding the platform's future, we wouldn't be surprised if corporate buyers waited for the dust to settle before making more orders. Instead, let's ask if this handset, when judged on its own merits, is worth your cash. Is it the first step on a road to rejuvenation, or is the Z30 destined to become a footnote in technology history?