06-23-15 08:31 PM
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  1. Slow Joe's Avatar
    A few weeks ago, I bought a brand new Verizon BlackBerry Z30 from an eBay store and posted here about it. A few people on the thread asked how I liked it and what the overall experience of switching to BlackBerry from an iPhone entails. So, after a lot of procrastination, I decided to write a review.

    This being a Z30 forum in a BlackBerry site, I'm going to concentrate on my personal experiences, and not the model as a whole. If I did a full review, I feel like I'd just be re-writing what's probably been written a thousand times here since the phone's release in 2013. So, without further delay, here goes:

    Why I Considered BlackBerry

    (Feel free to skip this part)

    I'm a rep for a Verizon retailer, so I've carried pretty much every type of smartphone. I've had four Androids, two iPhones, a Windows phone, and three BlackBerries. When I first started in 2011, VZW had just started selling iPhones, which was a big deal marketing-wise, but the reality was that it was the worst phone to sell commission-wise. We were greatly encouraged to carry Androids. So I got a Droid X. Then an HTC Thunderbolt. Then a Droid Bionic. I was always searching for more power. Single core processors turned to dual core processors then to quad core processors.

    One thing I found out: On Android, you could never have enough power to outrun the eventual lag your phone will have. It's inherent in an operating system that has to work on hundreds of different devices. There are too many inefficiencies.

    So I bucked the cultural norm of our stores and got an iPhone 4S. There are limitations with Apple, as most people know, but they didn't matter to me. I loved my 4S, despite its slow 3G internet speed. The OS was so smooth and fluid; no lag at all. A few months later, I ordered what was then the brand new iPhone 5. LTE and an iPhone! I would be in cell phone heaven!

    Except I wasn't. Around the time I started using Apple, I also started doing a lot of the tasks I used to do on a laptop on my phone instead. And for the first time, I ran into battery problems. The iPhone 5 is now famous for its battery issues, and I did have to have my battery replaced. But even with a fully spec battery, an iPhone 5 requires you to carry around a cell phone charger or some kind of power pack. I felt this was ridiculous. So when the iPhone 5S was about to come out, I paid attention to what they were going to do about battery life.

    Turns out, nothing.

    Then, when the iPhone 6 was about to come out, I searched all the rumor sites about what Apple was going to do about battery life.

    Turns out, nothing. "The thinnest smartphone ever!" They proclaimed. I cursed.

    I asked a buddy that bought a 6 (not the Plus) what his battery life was like. "It sucks," he said. "It's an iPhone, what do you expect?"

    I thought about that. The battery life sucks, but people buy the phones anyway. I know from being a salesperson that buying decisions are mostly emotional decisions. Apple has done an excellent job of getting people to buy their product based on how it makes the customer feel about owning it. It certainly can't be based on reliable battery life.

    So, I did a little more thinking. Battery life is super duper ultra mega important to me, and so is having a phone that doesn't ever lag. Who makes such a phone? Then it hit me: "Who absolutely positively needs a reliable smartphone? Business people! CEOs! If someone's iPhone battery dies, maybe they won't post to Instagram. If a CEO's battery dies, a company could lose millions! Somebody would get fired!

    And what do most CEOs carry? A BlackBerry. I already knew there's a serious app problem, but I had to find out what was going on in BB World.

    What I Got From the eBay Seller

    One reason I put off buying the Z30 is I simply couldn't find one. At least, a CDMA version for Verizon that was less than $499. Suddenly, a search through eBay resulted in several listings for "new" Z30s around $250. The phone would be completely new, yet they would be in "kit boxes" with an aftermarket charger. That made no sense.

    I got an email alert that said one of the listings was reduced to $224.99. I decided to email the seller. He responded saying he bought in volume from a Verizon liquidation. They had never been used. I decided eBay has strong buyer protections, so I'd take the chance. I bought.

    When it arrived, the phone was actually in the original box (matching IMEI), and had a OEM BlackBerry adapter, but a generic looking USB cord. I looked all over the damn thing for flaws, but couldn't find any. It was perfect. I turned it on. It immediately started asking for a charger, as the battery level was at 7%.

    To me, this jibed with what the seller claimed. You only "liquidate" if you have product that isn't selling. Supposedly, the Z30 did terrible in the market. (I worked for a retailer and we never stocked even one of these. I'm not kidding; when I opened the box it was the first time I'd ever seen a Z30 with my own eyes.) So VZW must have had a ton of these sitting around for months and months, and with smartphones usually shipped with about a 50-65% charge, it would make sense that the slow battery drain that a powered-off smart phone experiences would bring it down to the single digits after maybe six months or so. It sucked that the battery was that low, but it made me feel like he was being honest. I was overall happy with the buying experience. If you're thinking about a VZW Z30, I'd go search eBay right now.

    Battery Life

    This is really the only thing I gave a damn about. The first charge cycle I had wasn't that impressive. It got me through the day, but it was a relatively easy day, and was at about 20% before I called it a night. Heck, my iPhone could do that.

    But subsequent charge cycles have been much better, which is something I remember about the BlackBerry phones I had in the late 00s. Now, after heavy use, it still has never failed to get me through the day. On Sunday, I used Mobile HotSpot twice (and the Z30 actually advises you to put it on a charger when you do this because of the significant battery usage), checked email and Facebook all day, left Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Mobile Data on even when on the subway (there's no service in NYC when in the subway) and still got home with some battery life left. Okay, it was on fumes (8%) but it was there.

    Overall, I'm happy.

    UPDATE: Since I wrote this, all of a sudden I’m getting two day battery life. I’ll end the first day at roughly 50% and the second around 10% with light-to-normal use. I’m in love.

    The App Situation

    It sucks. Coming from an iPhone, where every third party is bending over backwards to create an app for you, it's really a culture shock to own a BlackBerry, where if you want non-BlackBerry app functions, you gots to work, boy. Anyway, this has been covered ad nauseum on this board, so there’s no reason for me to re-hash it. I’ll simply say this: I’ve been able to, either from BlackBerry World or Snap, download an app for every function I need. However, I’ve made sacrifices. Android apps using the runtime work slower and laggier on the Z30 than on their Android counterparts. Verizon Backup Assistant refuses to work. My Bluetooth stereo headset’s Play and Pause buttons don’t work with Spotify like they do on my iPhone.

    These are little annoyances that could be big annoyances for someone else, but honestly, I really don’t care. Have I mentioned the battery life?

    Camera

    It's not as good as the iPhone's. In fact, it's not even really close. I didn't think this would matter to me, but I was at a rooftop party in Manhattan last week and there were these spectacular views around sunset, and while my girlfriend's Droid Turbo and its 23 megapixel shooter took fantastic shots, my camera was worthless, and it was frustrating. Low light level quality is terrible in the Z30.

    Daytime shots are very good, but unlike with an iPhone, where you can touch the screen where you want it to focus, on the Z30 you just have to hold it and hope. That gets annoying, too. Maybe I haven't figured something out? I certainly don't claim to be a photographer.

    Oh, and one last thing: You simply touch the screen to take a photo. But you can also hit one of the volume buttons. For whatever reason, almost every single time I take a photo, I then follow it with a photo of my crotch, because as I'm lowering the Z30 to check out the shot I accidentally take another photo with the volume button.

    Summary

    The things I covered were the only characteristics I really cared about, and were the biggest ones I noticed by switching from an iPhone. But if you want some standard pros and cons, here are a few:

    Pros

    • BlackBerry Hub is fantastic
    • The OS is buttery smooth
    • Have I mentioned the battery life?
    • The screen, while not as HD as an iPhone, is still gorgeous
    • I can use my MicroSD card again!
    • Feels like a quality piece.
    • The KEYBOARD! How could I not mention the keyboard?!? It is almost magical how it knows what I'm typing no matter how badly I do it. Example in the comments below.


    Cons

    • I hit the volume keys by accident once a day
    • The app situation, which by the way includes NFL Mobile not playing video content
    • Not having access to Google Play services means no access to the best maps OR Google voice, which I use. I can at least check my Google Voicemail by saving a link on the homescreen
    • Experience goes from quick and buttery to slow and laggy when you open an Android app

    I know I've logged a few complaints here, but the overall experience has been great. And any time I think I may have made a bad decision, I remember that I paid $224 for a brand new phone. All the other phones I'd consider are what, $600? So, in summary, I love the Z30 and can see myself keeping it for a long while. Unless Apple finally decides to address battery life.

    Feel free to ask me any questions in this thread.
    Last edited by Slow Joe; 06-01-15 at 11:26 PM. Reason: Forgot content
    06-01-15 10:27 PM
  2. BB-JAM215's Avatar
    Thanks for the comparative review. My experience with Android apps is that they are slow to load but once running perform reasonably well. Are you running 10.3.1?
    06-01-15 10:51 PM
  3. atlasmike's Avatar
    It's the software that makes the camera so bad on the Z30. It has the same MPS as an iPhone but the iPhone has better software. Lots of people on here use Camera++ and say that it makes pictures brilliant with BlackBerry 10 phones.

    Posted via CB10
    DarkJoker33 and Slow Joe like this.
    06-01-15 10:55 PM
  4. anon(1852343)'s Avatar
    Nice post OP! You should try the Passport! It has superb battery life! You should also play with OS leaks for full enjoyment!

    Blackberry Passport running 10.3.2.680
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-01-15 11:00 PM
  5. Technarch's Avatar
    I have a Z30 and an iPhone 4S on 6.1.3

    I can't stop using the ios apps because the ones I use aren't great on this.

    Also, I'm a phone 1-hander. The Z30 is not comfy for 1-handed use like the 4S is. I don't have long fingers.

    I decided whatever device I consider should take into account a small size as a plus.

    Posted via CB10
    06-01-15 11:04 PM
  6. mvpcrossxover's Avatar
    Co-workers comments? How do people react to you carrying a BlackBerry?

    Posted via CB10
    06-01-15 11:06 PM
  7. Polotis's Avatar
    Thanks for the review. I feel much the same except in my case I'd never owned any other mobile phone before so couldn't offer any comparisons.

    Yet, even price alone wouldn't be enough on it's own to spur me to buy. The fact that the Z30 is a marvelous system for doing so much, that even with the app gap, one can do incredible things: I made a multimedia slide show with moviemaker, plugged in a HDMI cable, and blew minds with my presentation. No sweat was broken. Just awesome.

    Bring back random taglines!
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-01-15 11:13 PM
  8. Slow Joe's Avatar
    Thanks for the comparative review. My experience with Android apps is that they are slow to load but once running perform reasonably well. Are you running 10.3.1?
    Nah, 10.2 something. I really don't want to get into all the techie stuff of installing a non-VZW operating system. But if VZW drags their feet long enough I may. And you're correct in that they run "reasonably well", just not as fast as on a normal Android.
    06-01-15 11:14 PM
  9. Slow Joe's Avatar
    Nice post OP! You should try the Passport! It has superb battery life! You should also play with OS leaks for full enjoyment!

    Blackberry Passport running 10.3.2.680
    Unfortunately, switching to Passport would require switching carriers unless and until BB produces a CDMA one. And honestly, I prefer all-touch keyboards. But I do think the Passport is sexy. One thing about the Z30 I didn't mention is that while it's a quality piece, it is a little drab. Nobody asks me about it.
    06-01-15 11:16 PM
  10. Slow Joe's Avatar
    I have a Z30 and an iPhone 4S on 6.1.3

    I can't stop using the ios apps because the ones I use aren't great on this.

    Also, I'm a phone 1-hander. The Z30 is not comfy for 1-handed use like the 4S is. I don't have long fingers.

    I decided whatever device I consider should take into account a small size as a plus.

    Posted via CB10
    I'm with you there. I never had a complaint about my iPhone 5's screen size, and it being so small allowed me to put an OtterBox on it and it still being a nice feel in my hand. The Z30 is a little too big, which is probably why I'm always hitting the damn volume key. If BB comes out with another all-touch, I hope the screen is smaller.

    Co-workers comments? How do people react to you carrying a BlackBerry?

    Posted via CB10
    I've been on a several-month leave of absence due to family issues, so I actually haven't carried one in the store yet, but they're all great friends and they've done nothing but make fun of me for it. Constantly. But I was pointing out all the benefits on a text thread with one of our top sales guys, and he at least admitted, "Joe, you're actually starting to make sense on this." I've converted no one yet.
    min3blk likes this.
    06-01-15 11:22 PM
  11. iCoutinoc's Avatar
    Witch OS are you running?

    Posted via Passport SQW100-1/10.3.2.680
    06-01-15 11:24 PM
  12. anon(8080272)'s Avatar
    You write so well; how refreshing.

    I appreciate the fairness of your review. You tell it like it is, not how you want it to be.

    Well done!

    Z30 / STA100-5 /10.3.1.1784 (no more double-typing Q10).
    06-01-15 11:25 PM
  13. Slow Joe's Avatar
    I can't believe I forgot to mention the keyboard. Every time I think about settling for iPhone's crap battery or Android's crap OS I remember I have to leave BB's excellent keyboard behind. I would cry literal tears, I think. It is just SO good at knowing what I am trying to type:

    A Z30 Review from an iPhone User-img_20150509_195010.png
    BionicKris likes this.
    06-01-15 11:34 PM
  14. Slow Joe's Avatar
    Witch OS are you running?

    Posted via Passport SQW100-1/10.3.2.680
    10.2.1.2991

    What concerns me is if VZW is liquidating a bunch of stock of a poorly-selling phone, how much effort are they going to make to update to 10.3? I don't have a lot of faith. Maybe by Summer, if VZW hasn't updated yet, I'll take the chance and do it myself.

    You write so well; how refreshing.

    I appreciate the fairness of your review. You tell it like it is, not how you want it to be.

    Well done!

    Z30 / STA100-5 /10.3.1.1784 (no more double-typing Q10).
    Thanks. I know I had a lot of questions and concerns before I bought, I wanted to give honest answers to those that are in the same dilemma. I wanted to be a reviewer, not a salesman. It's a wonderful wonderful phone, but there are drawbacks.
    06-01-15 11:47 PM
  15. eyesopen1111's Avatar
    So, have you considered or tried an iPhone 6+? I have a Z30 and an iPhone 6+ and the battery life is solid on both, but the app situation, screen resolution, and the camera on the iPhone 6+ are worth a look.
    21stNow and devin266 like this.
    06-01-15 11:54 PM
  16. jojon2se's Avatar
    To move the camera's focusing reticle in 10.2, you drag it around (...and long-hold to lock focus).

    This changed in 10.3, which opted for tapping to place it -- the autofocus still does the annoying actually-finding-focus-but-then-snapping-to-blurry-at-the-last-moment thing, but at least there's no more suffering the dreadful tap-anywhere-to-take-picture "feature", which used to cause endless unintentional snaps. (EDIT: Now it's endless unintentional-moving-focal-point, instead
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-02-15 12:10 AM
  17. Slow Joe's Avatar
    So, have you considered or tried an iPhone 6+? I have a Z30 and an iPhone 6+ and the battery life is solid on both, but the app situation, screen resolution, and the camera on the iPhone 6+ are worth a look.
    It's just too big for me. I prefer smaller phones; the 4-inch screen on the iPhone was fine. The Z30 is at the outer limit of what I want, and the iPhone 6+ is just too unwieldy. It's a shame because I know the battery is decent on the Plus.

    If Apple made an iPhone with a 4-inch screen and a 2500 mAh battery, I think I would go back to them. But it won't happen. Apple is way more interested in thinness, and laws of physics prevent 2500 mAh from fitting in that form factor. It's stupid to me, but they wouldn't do it if customers wouldn't buy it in droves.
    dangerousfen likes this.
    06-02-15 12:26 AM
  18. Slow Joe's Avatar
    To move the camera's focusing reticle in 10.2, you drag it around (...and long-hold to lock focus).

    This changed in 10.3, which opted for tapping to place it -- the autofocus still does the annoying actually-finding-focus-but-then-snapping-to-blurry-at-the-last-moment thing, but at least there's no more suffering the dreadful tap-anywhere-to-take-picture "feature", which used to cause endless unintentional snaps. (EDIT: Now it's endless unintentional-moving-focal-point, instead
    Thank you for this post. I just experimented and that helped a lot. I still ended up with a few blurry photos but I did get the ones I was trying to get eventually.
    06-02-15 12:30 AM
  19. mvpcrossxover's Avatar
    I've been on a several-month leave of absence due to family issues, so I actually haven't carried one in the store yet, but they're all great friends and they've done nothing but make fun of me for it. Constantly. But I was pointing out all the benefits on a text thread with one of our top sales guys, and he at least admitted, "Joe, you're actually starting to make sense on this." I've converted no one yet.
    That's why you're "slow" joe.
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-02-15 12:34 AM
  20. will308's Avatar
    glad you like the z30 BUT yes you can use google services here you go ......http://forums.crackberry.com/android................I have it on my passport
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-02-15 12:40 AM
  21. scrapmetal58's Avatar
    10.3.1 is a huge change from 10.2.1. Many new features and improvements. Android apps run better for me on 10.3.1 than on 10.2.1. Some apps that don't work for you may work on 10.3.1. I highly doubt Verizon will release the update anytime soon, if ever. I'd seriously consider updating. 10.3.2 is coming soon, as well.

    Posted via CB10
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-02-15 12:40 AM
  22. Slow Joe's Avatar
    That's why you're "slow" joe.
    The nickname comes from a lot of things in my life, not the least of which is my delivery onstage. Which I guess I should mention is another reason I like the Z30: I'm a standup comedian at night, and I like to write and work on material at the oddest times in the oddest places, so keyboard is very important to me. I should be interviewed in one of those cheesy BlackBerry blogs! "Standup Comedian Gets Things Done on His BlackBerry Z30". Oh, wait, BB probably doesn't give a s--t about marketing the Z30 anymore.
    gebco and BionicKris like this.
    06-02-15 12:44 AM
  23. Slow Joe's Avatar
    10.3.1 is a huge change from 10.2.1. Many new features and improvements. Android apps run better for me on 10.3.1 than on 10.2.1. Some apps that don't work for you may work on 10.3.1. I highly doubt Verizon will release the update anytime soon, if ever. I'd seriously consider updating. 10.3.2 is coming soon, as well.

    Posted via CB10
    The only app that doesn't work for me is Instagram. I really don't care about it, except my girlfriend is always asking me if I saw a picture she took.

    When I get a little more time and perhaps feel more confident, I may try the upgrade to 10.3 myself. But I really REALLY don't want to do anything that may mess with my battery life.
    06-02-15 12:52 AM
  24. mubarak1's Avatar
    Thanks for the honest review

    Q10SQN100-3/10.3.1.2576

    Posted via CB10
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-02-15 12:58 AM
  25. scrapmetal58's Avatar
    Thank you for this post. I just experimented and that helped a lot. I still ended up with a few blurry photos but I did get the ones I was trying to get eventually.
    I find using the volume button to take the photo helps a bit. 10.3.1 has a lot of camera improvements.
    There's a ton of little tips, as well.
    You may know them, but I'll list a few:

    1. Keyboard - swipe down to switch between symbols and letters. Swipe right hand left to delete the last word (swipe with two fingers to delete two words, and so on).

    2. Camera - Drag the photo in the bottom left towards the centre of the screen for a preview. You'll get a menu to share or delete the photo: just continue dragging your finger to the applicable choice. The camera produces the highest quality photos in 4:3 format. You can also turn on grid lines that may help with framing the photo.

    3. You can bring up the keyboard by using a two finger swipe up from the bezel. You can minimise it by swiping two fingers down.

    4. You can switch between entries in the Hub by swiping to the right and up or down.

    5. You can quickly switch between app pages by tapping and/or swiping on the squircles at the bottom of the screen.

    6. In Android apps, you can swipe down from the top to get an option to turn off for back button in favour of a gesture

    I'd highly suggest exploring the device settings, Hub settings, and individual app settings.


    Posted via CB10
    Slow Joe likes this.
    06-02-15 01:08 AM
47 12

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