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BlackBerry Z30 review

Andrew Williams



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BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30
  • BlackBerry Z30


Our Score:


User Score:


  • Strong email, chat and social network support
  • Great build quality


  • Poor games and apps selection
  • Problematic camera

Key Features

  • BlackBerry 10.2 software
  • Dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU
  • 2GB RAM, 16GB internal memory
  • 5-inch Super AMOLED 720p screen
  • 8-megapixel camera with LED flash
  • Manufacturer: BlackBerry
  • Review Price: £484.99

What is the BlackBerry Z30?

The BlackBerry Z30 is the largest phone BlackBerry has ever produced, at least it has the largest screen. It’s a larger-screen alternative to the BlackBerry Z10, its 5-inch screen matching the most-celebrated Android phones of the year. At £500 it matches phones like the Galaxy S4 on price too. If you care about apps at all, that phone or an iPhone 5C is a much better choice. But there’s no doubting that this is a quality phone in most respects.

SEE ALSO: Best mobile phones 2013

BlackBerry Z30 3

BlackBerry Z30 – Design

It’s common these days for phones to try to look and feel as thin and light as possible. In a world of phones of ever-increasing size, it’s quite a feat, but the BlackBerry Z30 doesn’t care much about such things.

The BlackBerry Z30 would rather seem strong and reliable. That is part of the reasoning behind the look of the phone’s back, which is made of a ‘glass weave’ plastic that looks a lot like carbon fibre and is twice as strong as normal plastic, according to BlackBerry.

These may be the words of a cynic, but the ‘strong’ look of this glass weave rear is undoubtedly its most important aspect. Its actual protective benefits don’t stand up to all that much scrutiny. A phone is most at risk of serious damage when dropped on its edge, causing ripples of pressure that can shatter a screen.

BlackBerry Z30 6

The parts of the phone that would impact in the BlackBerry Z30 in this situation are the standard metal effect plastic edges, not the clever glass weave parts. To look further into the issue, we should also consider what sort of strength a glass weave structure could supply – there’s more than one kind of strength.

The BlackBerry Z30’s weave rear likely offers more high tensile strength than standard plastic, meaning the back casing won’t snap or deform as easily. It also helps to give the phone a strong, tough feel. The back casing is topped off with a soft touch layer, which determines how it feels on the fingers (soft and smooth), but it also flexes less than bog-standard plastic.

Adding to the impression of strength, the BlackBerry Z30 isn’t particularly thin or light. It’s 9.4mm thick and at 170g it’s much heavier than most rivals of this size. The Galaxy S4 is 130g, the HTC One is 143g. It’s a chunky beast. However, it’s small enough to avoid causing any serious usability problems.

BlackBerry Z30 5

It has a few extra hardware features that nerds will love, too. On its left edge next to the usual microUSB port is a microHDMI video output, and under the plastic cover is a microSD memory card slot.

You get 16GB of internal storage, and to be frank that’ll probably do the trick unless you want to store music or videos (given there are so few games for BlackBerry 10 phones). The final neat hardware extra is the multi-colour LED indicator that flashes red, green or blue depending on the type of notification it’s telling you about. It sits above the screen, hidden in the screen surround when not flashing.

The BlackBerry Z30 isn’t the most beautiful phone in the world. It cares too much about practicality to trade away everything for looks. The buttons are obvious and its ports are not remotely disguised. But thanks to the redesigned back, it comes across as a step up from the Z10.

BlackBerry Z30

BlackBerry Z30 – Screen Quality

The BlackBerry Z30’s screen continues the trend. Its display is not cutting edge, but it is very good. It’s a 1,280 x 720 Super AMOLED panel that’s five inches across. All it loses out on is resolution – the Galaxy S4 has a screen of the same size and type, but it’s Full HD, 1,920 x 1,080 instead.

Does it matter? Not much. This is a sharp screen, although if you look close you can tell it’s not as sharp as the best.

Other aspects of the display are either very good or excellent. Contrast and black levels are top-notch, viewing angles are fab and colour is surprisingly good.

AMOLED-type screens often have oversaturated colours, and can appear blueish when tilted at an angle. Colours are fairly faithful here and there’s no major colour distortion caused by angled viewing.

As we’d expect from a Super AMOLED screen, response times are excellent too, meaning you don’t get any ‘trails’ when flicking quickly through high-contrast menus.

There’s little to seriously dislike about this screen.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


October 4, 2013, 3:01 pm

BB: you best chance is to adopt Android and boost it with BBM and BBES!


October 4, 2013, 3:06 pm

I just tried the Sony Xperia Z1 and was desoriented with the Android interface and the poor access to messages/mails/etc. Quickly returned the device and back on my BB Z10 and may even be tempted to upgrade to the Z30 at some point. The hub is absolutely spot-on, the lack of apps not a real issue (evernote, twitter, linkedin, facebook, sonos controls, whatsapp, weatherpro, photostudio, ruzzle, kindle, kobo, etc, it's all there).


October 5, 2013, 1:48 am

Phone seems like a beast even with a dual core CPU, I'm certain can run circles around the competition. Scamsung and Crapple build "cool" phones, but when it comes down to getting the job done, not that great. Rich in apps, but worthless for productivity. I don't like the Android interfaces, and for the past two years I have had an iPhone which I hate so much...BB OS is awesome, why has no one else thought of doing full touch gestures with a touchscreen before?

Desiderius Discipullus

October 5, 2013, 9:18 am

I'm tired of reading BlackBerry's apps catalog is poor. There are 130.000 apps available, and the most important are all there. Are you reviewing the device or the eco-system? Nobody can compete with Samsung when you look at the specs only, because they're making their own chips, displays, etc. while the others have to buy them from somebody else. But what about security, for example? Does anybody care about the NSA affair? And if you look at the recent iPhones 5S and 5C, what a disappointment in terms of display size and lack of innovation. Nevertheless the 5S scored 9/10. If you compare iOS and BB10.2, you realize that iOS feels pretty much outdated.

Jonathan Atamaniuk

October 6, 2013, 1:50 am

I notice a lack of the mention of Flash capabilities, something now missing from Android 4.1 and up, and never ever present on any iOS device. What Flash compatibility means is that numerous facebook games that are apps on iOS and Android can actually run as full web apps on BB10 in the browser, offsetting a large chunk of the "app gap". Yes it runs down battery life, but then again so does leaving on any one of those other games. I also notice a lack of mention about the superior antenna, though depending on the reviewer's location that may be hard to test as they may not be able to get to a place with notoriously bad reception, such as the fringe of their network of choice or the depths of an office building basement. This is something I'd have preferred to actually hear something about, as this is the biggest reason why I am dumping Android phones (reception is crap with even the latest and greatest compared to friends' Z10 phones) and actually go places where there is incredibly low reception.


October 6, 2013, 7:08 pm

I'm also tired of reading about it when it is so incredibly easy to sideload an Android port onto the phone. It really only applies if you are very set on always having the latest apps immediately. It shouldn't put anyone off if they can't find Instagram, Temple Run or Netflix on the app world since you can have them up and running in minutes.

I'd get a Google phone for its very well-integrated services, or an Apple phone for its superior hardware design and build quality. Not for their apps, since I sideload all I need on the Blackberry, which I ultimately chose for its security, hub messaging integration and gesture navigation.


October 7, 2013, 11:58 am

BlackBerry rocks. Too many haters out there. My z10 does everything I need it to do and does it well. I am looking forward to seeing what the z30 has to offer!


October 8, 2013, 12:54 am

What are you talking about? Ever heard of a Nokia N9? Or the Palm Pre? These phones run on systems called Meego and webOS (respectively) and are more than two years old now but Apple and Blackberry have done a good job of "borrowing" the touch gesture innovations that these phones pioneered. Look them up on YouTube and see what the world missed out on.


October 8, 2013, 2:17 am

Hey Andrew, you said: "Using the standard Auto mode, low-light performance in the BlackBerry Z30 is fairly poor. For the best results, you’ll need to switch manually to the Night scene mode, which ups sensitivity to make objects in the dark clearer."

I'm using the Z10 with OS and in night mode, I just start dragging the focus reticle around and it enables the flash for me to select something for focusing. I presume it is the same on the Z30. Did you get a chance to test this?

I'm surprised you say that the camera isn't so good. The Techradar tests of the Z10 camera were very good - with it being better than the iPhone 5 and on par with the GS3. I don't see why the Z30 would be worse...

I found your review actually pretty decent. Apart from the excessive complaints regarding the apps and games - lingering on this note is just poor journalism.

At least you kept the company's situation out of the mix which gives you almost every brownie point ever! haha

I just feel that the phones are slightly over-priced in comparison to their rivals.


October 8, 2013, 8:46 am

HI Nharzool,

The Z30 is probably at that level for pure detail - it's more some of the additional modes that aren't quite as good.

ravi sathe

October 8, 2013, 8:52 am

The Blackberry Z10 has one of the most efficient operating systems...I have an HTC one and an iPhone 5.... the horrible access for messaging, emails and applications for androids gets annoying... the bb 10 feels like a blessing and feels as natural as a wink to use once you are accustomed to it. i have chucked the HTC one and the iPhone 5 because my current z10 does everything i want way faster than the android spec giants... one of the most efficient operating systems and has all the apps i have ever required....(Android apps sideloaded on the bb z10 run faster than they run on actual android devices..., HAHAHAHAHA)... i cant wait for the bb z30

ravi sathe

October 8, 2013, 8:55 am

Dear Reviewer, please dont forget to mention features like flash support, miracast support, screen sharing capabilities, blackberry channels and an efficient operating system that performs beter than many giants out there.


October 9, 2013, 3:11 am

Shame that reviews and press leave out so many good points about owning a BB10 phone. Yes, BlackBerry deserves to be scrutinized, but not to the extent that it does not include the truth. I've tried every phone out there. Z10 for me is by far the best over all phone experience. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this does not come out in reviews and press articles. It's getting old.


October 10, 2013, 11:25 am

The compared the iPhone hardware and there isn't a single component that is better than the BlackBerry z30 - not even one.
Screen size is larger, higher resolution, and super amoled vs lcd
Stereo sounds and quad mics
Faster processor
More memory
NFC - apple doesn't even have it

I almost feel reviewers aren't allowed to promote the BlackBerry - why the extreme reporting?

Geoff Richards

October 10, 2013, 11:57 am

Each person can judge the facts on their merits and make their own decision.

For me, bigger screen doesn't automatically mean better.
The Z30 is "only" 720p vs 1080p
I MUCH prefer LCD over AMOLED, so this is a substantial mark down for the BB
NFC? I've got it on my current phone and never used it, so again, it wouldn't really sway me to by the Z30.

The Z30 has the same 2GB RAM as my Nexus 4, which is nice. An iPhone 5S only has 1GB but it's a different operating system so I don't know which needs it more. (for example, Windows 7 uses lots of RAM vs Linux on a desktop PC)


October 10, 2013, 12:06 pm


Not one iPhone component is better than the z30
Battery, resolution, NFC, camera all better on the z30

You would think someone in the media would point that out?

These are facts - not an opinion

It's truly bizarre how the media refuses to compare apples to apples

Geoff Richards

October 11, 2013, 12:22 pm

It's all a matter of perspective, Guy.

The iPhone 5 is a whopping 58g lighter; the Z30 is a bit of a porker at 170g.

Some people don't want massive phones, so the 5.0 inch screen on the Z30 is not seen as an advantage by them.

3rd party App support on iOS is light years ahead, though as Andrew points out here, BlackBerry is still a good choice for heavy users of mobile email.

It's all about making an informed choice.


October 11, 2013, 4:16 pm

The iPhone 5S has a MUCH faster processor, and a MUCH more power GPU. It's hilarious you keep parroting the same rubbish over and over because you think a 1.7GHz S4 Pro from 2012 is faster than the 5S processor just because it reports a clock speed of 1.3Ghz.

By that logic, you'll assume a 3.4 Ghz pentium 4 processor from 2005 is more powerful than a 2.4 Ghz Haswell Core i7 from 2013. And that's just rubbish.

AFAIK, the 5S has all round the most powerful SoC in a mobile phone out there, supported by Anandtech's benchmarks. 5S GPU is at par with the Snapdragon S800 (which blows away the Z30) and the CPU outperforms even the S800's 2.3 Ghz CPU in the likes of the LG G2.

Camera on the 5S also is better than the Z30. You'll never find a review out there calling the 5S camera 'middle of the road'.

Funny how the ignorant ones are always the loudest ;)


October 31, 2013, 9:50 pm

i'm using sony xperia tl, the moment I use my z10 - I felt like I will not use android again. HUB is awesome -- just awesome. I don't think iOS or android near to it.

Keyboard is exceptional...real smart keyboard ..learns your words.

I don't need tons of app..mails, camera and simple apps..more than enough.


November 20, 2013, 6:34 am

You're right - the dual core A7 is a powerhouse, in real world use at least comparable to any quad core on the market. In part because iOS is a more efficient OS.

That being said, you wouldn't catch me dead with one ;)


November 30, 2013, 6:00 am

fact is that bb10 is the best and modern os at the moment,the best phone of 2013


December 10, 2013, 5:33 pm

BlackBerry 10 invented full gesture. This is but one innovation among several more. As you can see by the updates to iOS and Android, they are slowly starting to COPY BlackBerry once again.


December 10, 2013, 5:47 pm

The day BBRY goes all out Android will be the day BBRY goes belly under. Why on earth would BBRY abandon the best Mobile Platform on the planet (BB10) for the likes of Android? At this point in time, Samsung is the only company profiting with Android. They've been dominating the hardware business by far, with Sony, LG and HTC suffering the effects.

I would rather see BBRY license its BB10 to these companies. So they can get better exposure.


December 10, 2013, 5:52 pm

To the Reviewer.
You missed out on many key points, one being BB10 is a very efficient OS, that does not require super charged specifications. Though I do agree consumer perception is all about specs. And in this respect BBRY has no choice but to follow suit with better overall specs. Just until they re-build the BlackBerry brand.

This is why iPhones sell, despite the lack luster specs of the phone. Regarding Android and super charged phone specs is nothing more than a gimmick. That OS is not very efficient, and will NEVER utilize high end specs regardless what they advertise.


January 14, 2014, 6:39 pm

"If you’re going to spend most of your phone time skipping between email
accounts, social network chat platforms, Whatsapp and BBM, it’s a
corker...for the right person this is still a great phone"

Well, here comes a new customer, then...

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