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Rediff.com  » Business » Z3: The cheapest BlackBerry phone now runs Android apps!

Z3: The cheapest BlackBerry phone now runs Android apps!

July 01, 2014 10:36 IST

Z3: The cheapest BlackBerry phone now runs Android apps!

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Abhik Sen

The Z3 doesn't have a premium feel like its siblings the Z30 or the Z10, but it does not it look cheap. The unibody design ensures smooth lines and the rubberised back provides a good grip.

The top edge houses the headphones jack while the left edge has the power, volume and mute buttons.

The right edge has the microSIM and microSD slots covered by a rather flimsy flap.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Blackberry

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But switching SIM cards and microSD cards is very smooth, unlike the nightmares we've faced with some smartphones.

The bottom edge houses the microphone and the microUSB port, a distinct advantage in case BlackBerry comes out with a dock for these devices (both the Z10 and the Z30 have the microUSB and microHDMI ports on the side). And yes, the Z3 lacks a microHDMI port.

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The thin bezel surrounds the five-inch screen, with the company's name emblazoned below the screen.

Above the screen is the 1.1-megapixel (MP) camera, the earpiece, the sensor and the notification LED.

At the back, on the top left edge is the 5MP camera with LED flash while the bottom left edge houses the speaker. There isn't much else on the back plate besides a logo at the centre.

The Z3 feels lighter than the Z30 (though it's only about 6g lighter) while it's distinctly heavier than the Z10.

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Interface

The Z3 boots up fast and comes with BlackBerry 10.2 out of the box. A distinct feature of this OS is Instant Preview, wherein with just a tap one can preview the notifications on the lock screen itself.

A further tap opens the notification. We found this very convenient. We also found a working version of BlackBerry Maps on this phone. Yes, finally it is live in India, but still has miles to go to catup with Google Maps.

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The familiar BB10 OS is present on the phone, with a distinction.

Unlike its predecessors, where the number of 'live tiles' (essentially apps minimised but running in the background) could go up to eight, the Z3, because of its reduced amount of RAM, limits them to four.

Once you open and minimise a fifth app, the first tile you opened closes by itself.

What is to be noted is that there was absolutely no lag even with the four apps running in the background. We've always loved the clean browser interface of BB10 (along with support for Adobe Flash) and this one doesn't disappoint.

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The pages loaded fast (over an Airtel 3G connection) and YouTube videos were a pleasure to watch.

Text appears crisp on the Z3's screen and there's a loss in sharpness only if one zooms in a lot.

Calls and email were always BlackBerry's forte and this one's no different. The touch keyboard on BB10 is possibly the best we've seen on any mobile (and it gets better as you keep using it).

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The extras

The Z3 comes with a FM tuner and the reception is quite good. The loudspeaker has decent volume - it is louder than the Z10 though not quite as good as the Z30.

The speaker suffices for listening to radio broadcasts indoors as well as group chats over the phone but if you need to bring the house down, you'll need to connect separate speakers.

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The 5MP camera on the Z3 is something of a mixed bag. Photos shot outdoors are quite good, provided one takes the time to focus well.

The camera takes its own sweet time to focus (unlike the Z30, which is a brilliant shooter outdoors), but gives good shots thereafter.

This means one might miss many candid moments during the delay in focusing.

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Indoors, in low-light conditions, there is a lot of noise. The front camera is just good enough for video calls - selfies didn't come out too well.

The Z3 comes preloaded with the most popular social networking apps and the latest version of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), a godsend for all social ninjas.

The Z3 comes with a big battery and with heavy usage of email, calls, texts, moderate FM radio usage, browsing and an hour of gaming we were easily able to get through a day-and-a-half without plugging in the charger.

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Verdict

The Z3 is a great device built to last long. It will also get the update to BB10.3 and can run Android apps if one can get hold of the apk file of the app over the air.

It is a great device for multimedia and social networks, let down by its camera.

But its greatest challenge lies in convincing customers to buy this device at the price of Rs 15,990 when the Z10, which is placed as a premium device and boasts better hardware, can be had for just a thousand rupees more.

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Blackberry Z3

Price: Rs 15,990

Screen: 5-inch, 540 x 960p qHD

Weight: 164g

OS: BlackBerry 10.2.1

RAM: 1.5GB

Processor: 1.2GHz dual core

Memory: 8GB, expandable up to 32GB via microSD card

Camera (rear/front): 5MP with LED flash/1.1MP

Battery: 2,500mAh, non-removable

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