THE PEOPLE’S BLACKBERRY
As the midrange market is flooded with smartphones from the east, BlackBerry joined the fray with its latest full-touch smartphone, the BlackBerry Z3. As the first BlackBerry phone to be designed by BlackBerry but manufactured by Foxconn, the Z3 has the feel of a device that's twice its price.
Unlike its predecessors, the Z3 sports squared edges, giving it a unique but unwieldy look – that is, until you pick it up in your hands. The Z3 feels like a premium phone with a glass screen, metal sides and a comfortable textured back that are akin to the one found on the BlackBerry Z10.
There are also many design changes that are far removed from what you would traditionally see on a BlackBerry device. First of all, the Z3's Micro-USB port has been moved from the left side of the phone to the bottom.
The power button on the Z3 was also moved from the top to the left side of the phone, along with the volume buttons and the quick access button. Veteran BlackBerry users may need some time to get used to the changes. However, nonBlackBerry users will likely find the layout more intuitive.
Another difference between this phone and the other BlackBerry 10 devices is that its interface is predominantly white instead of black. This is most evident in the Z3's system menus.
The Z3 handles BlackBerry OS 10 (BB10) far more effectively than the Z10, whereby it runs smooth with no perceivable lag. Like its big brother, the Z30, the Z3 also has a 5-inch touchscreen, although it is not as crisp at 540 x 960 pixel resolution. We found the icon labels on the main screen to look as if they were not optimized for the Z3's qHD display.
As expected for a midrange phone, the Z3 lacks certain features, such as LTE and NFC support. Overall image quality from the Z3's camera proved to be decent and functional, although its call quality is quite good. The battery, which is non-removable, does not boast a long talk time, but in our experience, it does last an average work day.
Despite any shortcomings, the Z3 is the most affordable BlackBerry phone to date and is a step in the right direction when it comes to the general consumer market for BlackBerry. With the soon-tobe-released Amazon Appstore, which will officially bring Android apps to the BlackBerry, the Z3 is fast becoming a compelling choice.