Verizon Z30 On OS 10.2.1 Revisited

Z30 is curvy industrial hardware with smartly chosen specifications

This is the BlackBerry Z30. A beautiful pairing of hardware and software that deserves a second look. Specifically, I will be revisiting BlackBerry 10 on the Verizon Z30 hardware running version 10.2.1 of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

The Z30 is arguably the strongest BlackBerry ever built featuring a 5″ Super AMOLED screen, stripe pixel layout, 720×1280 resolution, 2mp front facing camera and an 8mp auto focus lens on the back.

Intelligently positioned on the rear of the device, you’ll find some of the best speakers I’ve ever heard on a mobile device. The power and angle of these speakers in the chassis show deliberate intention on creating a great sound experience from the device, adding depth to music playback or audio calls.

The Z30 also has 4 separate microphones for more comprehensive audio pickup.

Calls, especially over BBM Voice, sound markedly more crisp and clear thanks to the full fidelity audio capturing capabilities of the device and BlackBerry’s Natural Sound technology.

Calls across continents come through as if your contact is in the same room as you. With the multiple microphones, the Z30 captures a truer sounding version of your voice and packages it across their network for a high quality audio experience.

Quality Comparison: BBM Voice vs. Regular Phone Call

On the right side of the device, you have your usual volume controls and pause/play button. Top and center you have a sleep and wake button with an adjacent 3.5mm headphone jack. On the left of the device you have your micro HDMI and micro USB. This device also supports Qi wireless charging for a wire-free quick charge.

Design wise, the Z30 is gorgeous. The silver chin that wraps around the device gives off a premium feel. On the back, you have a light and durable glass weave similar to that which we all adored on the Q10.

Under the hood, the Z30 boasts a 1.7 Ghz dual-core processor, a quad-core GPU, 16GB of internal storage. Additionally, the 10.2.1 release adds support for up to 128GB expandable storage.

“Well built hardware with a professional heft makes the ZED30 an all-star in the office without sacrificing anything  on the homefront. Games, movies, sharing, social. BlackBerry 10 gives it all in one package.”

With the back plate removed, you have access to your SIM/SD card slots. Standing out proudly, you will also see a badge advertising the 2880mah non-removable battery which is quoted to offer up to 25 hours of battery life in moderate to average use on a daily basis.

In my time with the Z30, the device has proven itself to be a real trooper and battery life is one of its strongest suits. The Z30 comes with a modest but respectable 16GB of on board storage which can fill up pretty quickly if you install several high-end games.

BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.2.1

  • Optimized battery life with new monitoring options and indicators
  • BlackBerry® Priority Hub with more ways to organize and prioritize, so you can stay focused on mission critical things
  • Call management options so you can respond on your terms, even by email/BBM/text
  • Cost management tools to manage roaming and data usage
  • Groups can be created for SMS and email for more efficient broadcast communications
  • Lock Screen Notifications are now actionable, so you can respond to important messages more quickly or discreetly
  • Picture Password for quick unlocking
  • Offline Browser Reading Mode lets you save the current web page for later viewing, even if you are offline
  • FM Radio does not require any network connection so can you listen to local FM stations (BlackBerry® Z30, BlackBerry® Q10 or BlackBerry® Q5 smartphone)

If you’re familiar with BlackBerry OS on older devices such as the Curve 8520, you can safely throw away everything you think you know about BlackBerry.

OS OFFERINGS

We’re quite fond of the native file manager and how it gives you not only access to all files on your device and SD card, but also remote access to the files on your home PC or laptop no strings attached.

With a smart active frame and easily integrated cloud services like Dropbox and Box, this file manager may be the best offering in mobile. Period.

The user can natively ZIP and UNZIP files and folders and copy and/or move any file(s) around on your device, your home computer, or to any connected cloud service with ease.

Additionally, BB10 has a really rich media experience. For instance, animated GIF images run natively and can be stored alongside all your other pictures and videos.

If you were to peek into the HUB, you’ll notice the image animation or video playback does not stop. This is true multitasking.

In addition, BlackBerry 10 has an incredibly robust sharing framework with tons of options to share anywhere you’d like including Wifi Direct, NFC, Twitter, third-party applications or even up into the cloud.

For you productive types, BlackBerry has Docs-to-go and full Office compatibility right out of the box, as well as full-fledged PowerPoint presentations in all their glory.

Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents are accessible out of the box, and integrate well into the overall experience.

If you were to receive an email with one of these documents attached, you could easily open and edit it without ever needing to download anything additional in order to make it work.

Answering calls is easy on BlackBerry 10. Swipe right to reject and left to accept.

If you’re busy, you can send a predetermined BBM or text back to your contact with just a single tap.

Be it in the native Story Maker application, or tucked inside the BlackBerry Hub, there’s a lot going on in this overtly simple and elegant operating system.

As plain and utilitarian as it may appear at first glance, it’s quickly rising to a level reaching general feature parity with iOS and Android.

In fact, the competition is copying things BB10 has offered publicly for the last 6 months:

Jan 2014 - BB10

Sept 2014 - iOS8

The small things add up on BlackBerry 10; the interactive lock screen preview, active frames and gestures to unlock and wake the device from sleep all come together to create a real cohesion.
From wake to rest, the Z30 is built to keep up with you.

Keyboards. It must be said that BlackBerry brings a totally out of the box keyboard with BlackBerry 10 that is competent and a fair contender against the likes of Swype and Flesky.

Flick typing brings next word predictions in-line to create an effortlessly fast and accurate keyboard. With frets and larger keys, heat mapping and on-board gestures, you have one of the most advanced input solutions and one that is deeply integrated into the OS with a little help from SwiftKey.

On BB10 the keyboard learns and adapts to you while offering the quintessential BlackBerry typing experience we all expect.

The Z30 has a snappy 8MP rear camera. The camera application on the phone has some neat tricks like Time Shift, but overall is rather barebones.

You can change image dimensions and swap between three shooting modes.

There’s a very cool peek feature that allows a quick look at the last picture you’ve taken without leaving the camera. All around similar performance as the Z10 device.

The Z30 is a device built to be a workhorse. In the hand and on the go, it’s one of the most reliable mobile experiences I’ve come across.

From a pure “get it done” perspective, BlackBerry 10 as an entire platform offers and experience leagues beyond the competition from a usability standpoint.

Without the desire for a jailbreak, the BlackBerry 10 experience is pleasantly surprising if not atypically straightforward.

All in all, the Z30 feels like a professional’s right hand, capable of keeping up with an array of tasks from editing Excel spreadsheets to firing off Angry Birds.

The BlackBerry Z30 is a monster on Verizon. Data exchange is fantastic. The speed test on the right was done at work while inside an elevator.

Call quality is great and webpages load quickly. Thanks to the Paratek antenna on board the Z30, the device performs consistently even in low coverage areas – great when you cannot afford to be out of service.
Overall, we love the LTE speeds. This Verizon model is also XLTE ready out of the box, making sure you have access to double the speed in key areas.

A great deal considering the device is only $99.00 on contract.

Indoor Speed Test

BlackBerry 10 works for you. It gets up with you. It flows with you.

It gives you the right information at the right time and place.

Everything is accessible, and the proficiency of the OS stands as a testament to the inherent value BlackBerry has supported in this global market place.

As we look at all BlackBerry 10.2.1 has to offer, it’s good to remember all the things BlackBerry has always offered.

The Good:

BlackBerry’s Z30 is a well made device which proves BlackBerry can deliver BlackBerry 10 very well on larger form factors. Enhancing the core offering of the phone with a bigger battery, BlackBerry Natural Sound speakers and microphones as well as the Paratek antenna for better coverage. Even the choice of modest specifications while seeking consistent peak performance adds up to a snappy well put together offering.

The Bad:

BlackBerry has chosen usability over hype with the modest yet dapper Z30 hardware. While the Z30 performs admirably against well speced devices like the S5, iPhone 5S, and the M8 its understated hardware will be overlooked by many a general consumer despite how well the device runs on 10.2.1.

Design

90%

Display

80%

Camera

80%

Reception & Call Quality

90%

Performance

90%

Software

85%

Battery Life

90%

Ecosystem

85%

RATING

Z30 SCORES 87/100

10.2.1 LIVE GALLERY

FIN

*

Edited by Jeremy Duke

  • William A Pritchett

    Please update my z30 to software to 10.3.2 at 7048131823.

  • Miguel

    Please make a Z30 revisited 10.3.1 or preferably 10.3.2

  • My blackberry 10 rocks still to this day