The not anticipated BlackBerry Z30 is finally here!

If you’re wondering, who or what the Z30 is, you can be forgiven. You were probably in the throes of iPhone 5s launch ecstasy when the device was quietly announced.

Still I must say when I was informed that a review unit would be made available to TechCabal, an eyebrow went up in mild surprise. Although the devices specs, pictures and even videos had leaked onto the internet long before it was officially announced, the Z30 hasn’t been reviewed anywhere yet. Not even on GSMarena. Being able to get the device at roughly the same time as a site like The Verge somehow makes a review more worth my time than when there is the usual two week (or more) lag.

But Enough about me. Now it’s time for you to meet the Z30.

Spec highlights

The BlackBerry Z30 might have been the Z10 except for these fundamental differences –

It’s got a giant 5″ screen. Welcome to the phablet club.

A faster 1.7 ghz processor to the Z10’s 1.5 ghz

A massive non-removable 2880 mAh battery that promises to keep going for 25hours

An array of speakers that promise “natural sound”. Perhaps something to rival HTC’s Beats audio.

BlackBerry 10.2, the latest version of BlackBerry ten that promises a number of software improvements.

There’s some stuff about a better antenna for better signal reception that Mr. Mobility seems to know better about than I do.

Go here to see a full list of specs

BlackBerry Z30 Unboxing

Blackberry z30 box and phone

I already jumped the gun a bit and showed you the phone out of box. But I won’t deprive you of the crusty, boxy details.

Blackberry z30 unboxing

There’s a lot of stuff in this box. All the standard stuff is there, and then some. The phone itself, two power adapters, one USB cable, and premium earphones with two extra pairs of earbuds. Then there’s a leather wallet and even a portable usb charger…also known as a powerbank, thanks to Tecno. I wonder if the latter stuff will make it into the actual retail box. Premium accessories bundled with a premium device? Or pay as you go? We’ll see.

blackberry z30 accessories

On the right side are three music and volume control buttons. They have multiple functions, depending on what apps are running and how long they are pressed. The middle button activates voice control when held for more than two seconds. Those two pinprick holes on the side? I have no idea what they are there for.

Blackberry z30 side and volume rocker

On the left side – micro USB and HDMI ports.

Blackberry z30 side micro usb hdmi

The Z30’s back is made of the same premium, leathery textured material as the Q10’s that makes for an awesome grip, and houses a fair sized BlackBerry decal. The eight megapixel rear camera is mounted to the top right. The speaker notches for the “natural sound” are perpendicular to each other, one at the top, two at the bottom.

Blackberry z30 back and logo

At the front and up top — the speaker for phone calls and 2MP front facing shooter for video calls and yes, grainy selfies. Down below, BlackBerry logo set on black just above a shiny grey bezel.

Blackberry z30 multitasking

Two pictures I omitted to take. The top and bottom of the phone. At the top there’s a standard 3.5mm headphone jack to the left and the power/phone lock button. Save for the microphone notch, the bottom is bare.

First impressions

It’s huge

Blackberry z30 held up to the ear

Held to the side of your head, you realise just how big this phone is. If you already use a phablet or anything above 4.7 inches, this observation wasn’t meant for you because you already know all about that. The Z30 is huge, and compared to my Lumia 520, its heft is not negligible. Yet I somehow pulled it off without feeling like a dunce. I think the soft curves all around it somehow compensate for the size. It certainly doesn’t feel “chunky” to me.

Of course we know that the extra screen real estate on the Z30’s 5 inch Super Amoled screen will come in handy for stuff like movies and games.

5 inch amoled blackberry z30

But I fear that this phone is best suited for two-handed use. I’ve got average hands, and after a couple minutes of reaching up with my thumb to hit the opposite corners, I started to feel the strain. It doesn’t help that BlackBerry 10 has a penchant for putting confirmation buttons near the top of the screen.

After a while though, you stop noticing how big it is and start enjoying the extra inches.

BB 10.2 looks promising

bb10 lock screen notifications

The software updates to BB 10 look very promising. I’m particularly sold on the lock screen notifications — if you tap any account icon from the locked screen, you can see the kind of updates waiting for you behind, tres convenient although that might also mean someone else might be able to peek at your email headlines. And the instant email visual updates that look a lot like they were inspired by Windows Phone toast notifications.

bb10 toast notifications

Most of the apps there are still crappy Android ports. But the first thing I noticed is that there is now a native Evernote app for BB10. Love, love love! Can also see Flipboard made it in too. Still there’s not a lot of apps to be found. I can’t even find the Spiderman game I downloaded last time.

evernote native bb10 app

People seem to like it

One other impression. Everyone that’s seen it with me in the past 24 hours or so that I’ve had it have been impressed, for some reason. They seem to actually like it. In the looks department, the Z30 is no bombshell, but at that size perhaps the black on gray have a certain appeal. We’ll see how popular it is when it goes on sale.

Speaking of which, there’s no word of availability and pricing yet, but the Z30 is definitely replacing the Z10 as BlackBerry’s flagship. Which means you can expect the Z10 to get even more affordable than it already is in coming weeks. The Z30 probably won’t hit the shelves until October.

z30 box and phone 2

Personally, I find it weird to have to review what is possibly BlackBerry’s last device as BlackBerry. But the fade to black aside, I’m thinking the important thing is to keep an open mind and assess the device on its merits, no? Full review to come.

Thanks to Wale for helping with the photography.

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Bankole Oluwafemi Author

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