“The BlackBerry Z3 is here, and it’s time to take a closer look”
The latest BlackBerry smartphone, the affordable Z3 is here, and India is only the second country after Indonesia to get it. Coming after a long gap, the BlackBerry Z3 is another attempt by the once iconic smartphone maker to try and capture a slice of the pie, and while it could be a tad too early to comment on how it will fare, it does bring BB 10 closer to the masses. Its pricing of Rs 15,990 is a tad higher than what we expected (and hoped), but the Z3 does boast a few firsts. Not only is it the most affordable BB 10-toting handset, it’s also the first to result out of BlackBerry’s long-term manufacturing contract with Foxconn. On the other hand, its pricing also puts it quite close to its sibling, the Z10, which is currently selling in the region of Rs 16,000-Rs 17,000. This could make things a tad confusing for anyone interested in buying an all-touch BlackBerry smartphone. We’ll ponder over this in our full review, but for now, let’s address a few questions we think you might have regarding the Z3.
How about a quick rundown of the specs?
The Z3 sports a 5-inch display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. A dual-core Qualcomm MSM8230 processor clocked at 1.2GHz powers the show, along with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB internal storage. The smartphone is powered by a non-removable 2,500mAh battery, and the company claims it can provide a talk time of 15.5 hours and a standby time of over 16 days. The device measures 140 x 72.8 x 9.3mm, and tips the scales at 164g.
Does the BlackBerry Z3 have Gorilla Glass?
No, the Z3’s display doesn’t boast a layer of Gorilla Glass.
How much of the 8GB internal storage is available to use?
About 4GB, i.e. half of the provided storage is available to use out of the box.
Is the storage on the BlackBerry Z3 expandable?
Yes, thanks to the presence of a microSD card slot, you can add up to 32GB more.
Does the BlackBerry Z3 support USB OTG?
Unfortunately, no. The high-end Z30 is the only BB 10 handset that supports this feature.
How is the BlackBerry Z3’s camera quality?
The shooting department in the Z3 comprises of a 5-megapixel autofocus camera along with a flash, capable of shooting full HD videos. A 1.1MP fixed-focus shooter is available in the front, handling video calling duties and capable of shooting 720p videos.
The camera app provides the same basic features we’ve seen earlier on the Z3’s BB 10-toting siblings, covering modes like burst shooting and HDR, a few scene presets, and control over aspect ratio. There’s no shutter key, either physical or virtual, and you can just tap to focus and shoot. A nifty Time Shift feature is available too, capturing a series of images even before you actually shoot and letting you choose the best one later.
Does the BlackBerry Z3 support dual-SIM connectivity? What about the rest of the connectivity options?
The Z3 is a single-SIM device, and accepts a micro-SIM card. For hooking up, the options available include 3G, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast, along with the usual suspects like Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS and micro-USB 2.0. It doesn’t feature a micro-HDMI port for connecting to TVs or monitors directly, unlike its siblings the Z10, the Q10 and the Z30.
What are the sensors available on the BlackBerry Z3?
The sensors available include an accelerometer, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor for controlling screen brightness.
What OS does the BlackBerry Z3 run? What about the interface and the platform’s features?
The device runs BB OS version 10.2.1, which is the latest iteration currently. We covered an overview of all the new features included in this update earlier, but suffice it to say that there are massive improvements as covered to the previous version. The BB 10 user interface, in case you haven’t had a chance to experience it earlier, is highly swipe-driven and quite intuitive, hardly needing a learning curve.
Its mainstay is BlackBerry Hub, a place where all messages from your email accounts and social feeds are aggregated, giving you at-a-glance info on all that happening in your digital world. The BlackBerry Hub can be accessed by swiping right from the app screen, or by performing an inverted-L gesture (swiping up and then right) from the bottom the screen. The device can be unlocked directly from standby by swiping upwards from the bottom of the display, and the same action minimises the currently-running app. A minimised app is called an Active Frame in the BB 10 world, can on the Z3, you can have up to four of these running at a time. You can jump to any running app by tapping on its Active Frame, or hit the ‘X’ at the bottom to close it. Launching a fifth app will automatically close the first one in the list. There are handy lockscreen previews for notifications too, and new ones pop up on the top of the display and can be dismissed straight from there.
Some apps, like SMS and BBM, also allow you to respond to incoming messages directly from the pop-ups. A drop-down settings pane is available, and you can even customise which options are available here and the sequence in which they appear. Another useful feature is support for Hinglish for text predictions, along with a native Hindi keyboard. We’ll be giving you more details on the UI and features in our detailed review, of course.
Does the BlackBerry Z3 support Android apps?
Absolutely! While it doesn’t support Google services or offer access to the Google Play Store, it lets you install Android APK files directly. All you need to do is get hold of the APK file, transfer it to the Z3 by connecting it to a computer or via the microSD, or wirelessly via Bluetooth. You can also download APKs via the native browser.
Just run the transferred APK file via the File Manager (or through downloads in the browser if you download directly), and the app will be installed. Do remember to enable installation of apps from other sources first though, available under Settings > Security > App Manager.
Does the BlackBerry Z3 have an FM radio?
You bet! The FM radio can be accessed via the Music app, and as usual, needs you to connect a wired headset for it to work.
We’ll be bring you lots more on the BlackBerry Z3, including a full review very shortly. Don’t forget to check 91mobiles soon!