BlackBerry Z3: Smart performer, easy on pocket too

Written by Sudhir Chowdhary | Updated: Jul 3 2014, 13:41pm hrs
Lets face it, whenever we see a BlackBerry-weilding man or a woman in our day-to-day life, our perceived notion is this: that the person is a much-sought after individual in his/her professional life, is most certainly a senior management-level person, and one who is constantly connected to office work and replying to important emails on-the-go. Well, the fact is that this imagery is not way off the markthe Canadian device makers clientele is indeed elite and most people who own a BlackBerry are addicted to it.

For those who are not aware, BlackBerry (earlier known as Research In Motion) pioneered the concept of on-your-hip-email back in the nineties with its first BlackBerry phone. Its elite clientele comprised busy executives who relied on their BlackBerry devices to stay in touch with their clients and their offices. But competition soon followed and BlackBerry lost market share to Apples iPhone and Googles Android-powered mobile phones.

Cut to present. BlackBerrys fight to stay relevant is in full swingespecially in India, one of the largest emerging markets in the world for BlackBerry. The firm is working on products at various functionalities and price points to cater to the diverse audience. Its BB 10 platform and phones are raising surprised eyebrows, especially among those who had written off the company and its products. The new BlackBerry Z3 is here and its affordable tooit carries a price tag of R15,990.

A test unit of the Z3 was sent to us for a product review. Let us probe its finer details to find out whether it can deliver a better smartphone experience, especially in the affordable smartphone segment where the likes of HTC, Lenovo, Nokia, among others are vying for market share.The first impression is the feeling you get when you hold it in your handit is sleek and stylish and theres a nice grip to it.

In terms of broad phone design, the Z3 resembles the BlackBerry BB10 flagship from last year, the Z10. It features a modern design with a 5-inch display, long lasting battery and comes with BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.2.1. There are four buttons on the left, while a distinct flap on the right reveals the SIM and SD card slot. Notably, the BlackBerry 10 browser is incredibly fast, with fluid and responsive scrolling and zooming. More on it later.

I have been using BlackBerry devices for the past few years and with the Z3 in hand, the first feeling I got was that this full-touch device will make you productive right from the word go with its fast hardware, highly responsive software and a large app library.

The Z3 has been designed by Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwanese manufacturer perhaps best known as a builder of iPhones and iPads. This is the first product of the Foxconn-BlackBerry partnership worked up by the BlackBerry CEO, John Chen. It is a durable, full-featured device built for young professionals.

Designed to be easy to use and easy to own, this compact smartphone provides many conveniences and applications to help keep users connected to the people and information that matters to them. Take for instance, the BlackBerry Maps in Z3. This app provides 2D maps, local search and powerful 3D voice guided turn-by-turn directionsjust like an advanced GPS navigation system.

Then, the ever present Hub lets you access all your work and personal email, BBM, text messaging, social media updates and notifications in one place, with the ability to peek into the BlackBerry Hub from anywhere, so you are always one swipe away from what matters to you. The Hub can be customised to identify priority messages and filter the message list by various criteria that you can activate with a simple pinch gesture.

Probing further, BBM on the Z3 includes all the latest features of the popular mobile social network. You get BBM voice and video chatting with Screen Share and support for BlackBerry Natural Sound, letting you hear nuances and variations in tone in a BBM Voice chat, and making the conversations sound like youre in the same room. BBM Channels features a variety of Indian channels as well as a BBM sticket packs for its customers.

The BlackBerry Keyboard learns what words you use and how you use them, and then offers them up to you so you can type faster and more accurately. It gives you the best Hindi typing experience on a touchscreen. The devices BackBerry 10 browser includes many advanced features, supports multiple tabs, lets you browse sites privately, includes a reader mode, and integrates with the platform for easy sharing content. You can even share web pages for later viewing. For music lovers, the Z3 includes a built-in FM radio. You can listen to local FM stations, which does not require any network connection.

All in all, the Z3 is slim and light with a good set of features. It is also easy to use with its responsive software, and is easy to ownsomething which will appeal to those keen on joining the BlackBerry league, without having to pay through the nose.