BlackBerry, once the king of the pack, isn’t really leading the pack of smartphones like it once did.
Apple iPhones came, followed by Android smartphones and they both convinced many former BlackBerry faithfuls to switch to them. To seal it up, Blackberry launched the BBM (BlackBerry messenger) for iPhones, Androids and now Windows Phones.
BlackBerry continues to lose users even in regions where it once ruled — Nigeria, South Africa and Indonesia. They debuted the BlackBerry 10 operating system and the first smartphone to run it, the BlackBerry Z10, couldn't stop BlackBerry faithful from leaving in mass.
Then came the BlackBerry Q10, the BlackBerry Q5, the BlackBerry Z30 and now a new addition has been added to the pack — the BlackBerry Z3.
There’s something similar about the Q10 and Q5—they both followed the traditional QWERTY physical keyboard that BlackBerry has been known for. However, the Z10, Z30 and the Z3 are all full touch screen like iPhones and many Android smartphones.
When the Z10 was released in Nigeria, it was selling for N112,000. The phone did not gain popularity with the consumers. The price quickly dropped, until it fell to about N34,000 that it is selling at now.
The Z3 is 5 inches at 220 ppi pixel density, 5 MP camera rocking a Qualcomm MSM8230 Snapdragon 400 chipset, 8 GB internal memory, 1.5 GB of RAM 32 GB micro SD card.
It has a front facing camera of 1.1 MP that can be used for shooting selfies. The power button is to the left of the phone. Volume rocker is to the left as well. The earphone dock is at the top of the phone.
The phone will fit perfectly into your jeans pocket.
It is not as large and the Samsung GALAXY Note 2 and 3. It is also not as large as the Nokia Lumia 1520. So, it is not humongous.
The back of the phone has a matte finish which prevents it from being slippery in your hands while using it even if you do not add a phone casing.
You do not have to make any extra efforts to be heard while making phone calls with the phone. If your network isn’t dropping calls, you’ll hear the person on the other end very well.
It is much like the BlackBerry Q5, Q10, Z10 and Z30.
The software on the Z3 I reviewed is version 10.2.1.297. As I plugged the Z3 to my Mac, it prompted me that I need to download BlackBerry Link — the software that is used by Z3 to sync and connect to a computer.
Once it was not possible to download music and video files off the Web on to a BlackBerry 10 device. It is different now. I was able to download an mp3 file to the local storage of the phone and play from the phone’s music player. I tried with a video too and I was able to download the video to the local storage of the phone too and play it at a later time.
This leaves me wondering why BlackBerry never allowed this option when they first launched the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
To sync every other content that you have to the Z3, you may have to first move them to your micro SD card or download BlackBerry Link to your laptop and then connect the Z3. You will however be required to have BlackBerry ID and then sign in before you can start syncing files and documents.
I was glad to see that after establishing this connection using BlackBerry Link, the movement of files between my laptop and the Z3 was snappy and there was also the option of drag and drop — I loved the drag and drop option.
Camera and Video Recording
Feel free to take your Z3 to a wedding or picnic. You’ll be able to capture decent pictures outdoors and before sundown using its 5 MP back facing camera and it’s 1.1 MP front facing camera for selfies.
While the Z3 is not spotting the highest specs in camera, it still does a a very fair job. Forget getting decent pictures indoors—with poor lighting—and after sun down. The flash isn’t that powerful for night photography or indoor pictures.
You’ll see from the camera comparison that I did here—BlackBerry Z3, BlackBerry Z10 and Samsung GALAXY K Zoom—that the Z3 photos came out well. But if you view the photo shot with the Z3 on the Z3, it will appear very poor.
BlackBerry Z3 Photo
BlackBerry Z10 Photo
Samsung GALAXY K Zoom Photo
Screen and Display
The display makes the pictures I was shooting look very terrible. It has a 540 x 960 pixels at 16M colours.
At first, I ridiculed the camera of the Z3. But I shared a picture I shot with the Z3 on Instagram, and then viewed the same picture on Instagram while using the HTC One M8, the picture appeared sharp, with true colours and clear as well, they popped and looked awesome.
I concluded that one of the ways BlackBerry was able to make the Z3 that cheap is that they compromised on the quality of display that shipped with the phone.
The display on the Z10 is more superior to the one on the Z3. The Z10 is 768 x 1280 pixels, 4.2 inches while the Z3 is 540 x 960 pixels (~355 ppi pixel density), 5.0 inches (~220 ppi pixel density).
The battery on the Z3 is 2500 mAh. Once I took the Z3 out from charging in the morning at 7 a.m, I used it on till it was 6 pm before I had to charge again.
I am a very heavy smartphone user. I presume the average user will be able to get a full day use from it.
Z3 vs Z10
I have already mentioned some of the similarities above. Many people have complained about the poor battery performance of the Z10.
The Z10 was spotting a smaller battery—1800mAh; while the battery on the Z3 is larger at 2500 mAh.
Don’t forget too that the Z3 is larger than the Z10, the former is 4.2 inches while the latter is 5 inches.
The Z10 however is spotting a better design than the Z3.
I have met with many BlackBerry Z10 owners, we have some that are very satisfied with the phone and on the other hand there are the groups of people that are not.
It is the same that goes with the Q10; where there are people complaining about the phone, we have people who are very happy with what they’re getting from the phone.
But when you start operating the Z3, if you have used a Z10 before, besides the slight difference in the physical look, the two phones are completely identical in UI—the display looks completely alike.
How to run popular Android apps on the Z3
This will work on all BlackBerry 10 phones—Q5, Q10, Z10, Z30 and Z3.
You can get Android apps like the official Instagram Android app to work on the BlackBerry Z3.
What do you need to do?
Do this at your own risk. Don’t hold me or iAfrikan responsible if anything happens to your phone though.
It is simple to do and you should be fine if you try it, but you are on your own.
You’ll need to grab 1Mobile Market APK from the wild.
Once you download the apk, you’ll then allow your phone to install unauthorized app—apps that are not downloaded from the BlackBerry App world. This means that you’re indemnifying BlackBerry, iAfrikan and I when you allow the app to download. Once you install it, you can then search for your favorite Android apps from the 1Mobile Market store and download it to your phone.
Go on and download as much as you want and knock yourself out. While at it, you should know that the apps are not developed with the design language of BlackBerry 10.
You’ll experience that some of the apps won’t function properly. In addition, only free apps will be available to you from the 1Mobile Market. You won’t have access to any premium apps or premium versions of free apps.