Team TMN are always on the hunt when it comes to value for money, but like most, we aren’t ones to compromise on quality. Upon hearing that a certain brand had released its first mid-range smartphone, we were curious to see what all the fuss was about…
What: BlackBerry Z3 smartphone
Where: Available from major electronic dealers across the UAE
When: Launched July 2014 (in the UAE)
The promise: ‘Get the best, now for less – the latest BlackBerry 10 experience at an attractive price. Stay connected, share what you value, stay on top of what’s important and be more productive.”
Did it deliver? Naturally, the first thing Team TMN noticed about the BlackBerry Z3 was its sleek design. While a slightly odd size (think somewhere between an IPhone 5S and a Samsung Galaxy Note 3), it certainly didn’t look like a budget phone, dynamically square in shape and relatively light for its size. Another pleasing feature we found on first sight – BlackBerry have finally decided to put its charging doc at the bottom, which is great as it opens up room for a wide range of accessories.
As BlackBerry’s first mid-range handset to run the BlackBerry 10 platform, we were excited to see what the browser could offer. We knew the phone uses OS version 10.2.1 and supports around 90 percent of android apps, but first thing’s first; we had to actually be able to use the phone. Not to say that we aren’t tech savvy at TMN Towers, but with no navigation button, it took us a little while to figure out how to get back to the home screen from an open application (tip – you swipe upwards from the BlackBerry logo at the bottom). Once familiar though, a pretty cool feature about this was being able to swipe upwards to wake up the phone, making it very accessible.
Back to the BlackBerry 10 browser – it’s everything you would expect in a smartphone, fast, easy to navigate and offers great WIFI reception. The one limitation for us was only being allowed four active frames at a time, not including the BlackBerry Hub and headless apps; not a problem, you just have to remember that the first frame closes automatically when you open up a fifth.
The BlackBerry Hub was a particular favourite for Team TMN, as having all of your notifications, messages and updates available on one ‘app’ was hugely convenient – we loved being able to view a tagged photo on Facebook and answer an email in one go!
A notable feature about the phone is that it sports a slightly unexpected 1.5GB RAM, which no other phone in this mid-range sector can claim to match, and hosts a decent 8GB of internal memory. The long battery life of up to 15 hours was also a bonus, as for one thing, it allowed us to spend more time with the 5MP camera – while the capability was slightly disappointing, it did offer the Geo Tagging Facility, always desired by social sharing addicts and with an extra long battery life, we were able to spend hours discovering hidden depths of the phone without the oh-so-familiar worry that it was going to die on us at any moment.
The verdict: The bar has definitely been raised for budget phones with the BlackBerry Z3. It offers everything we’ve come to expect from a smartphone, and while there wasn’t anything particularly outstanding that stood out to Team TMN, it’s important to compare like for like in the budget stakes – at AED 899, the features are impressive and the price is definitely the icing on the cake!