If you were expecting BlackBerry to simply glue on an extra 0.8 inch to the Z10 and knock off early, then you lose a point.
Nearly the whole of the Z30 is covered in glass. Wisely, the forward-facing webcam, LED light and earpiece have been pushed closer to the edge to make room for that bigger 5-inch screen. At the bottom, you’ll find an aluminum chin, which is a single piece of metal that connects to the frame of the device, holding the chassis together. Sandwiched between the chin and the display is the BlackBerry logo. Lay this down next to a Galaxy S 4, and you’ll find that while there’s only a small difference in thickness, the Z30 is 4.1mm taller and 2.2mm wider.
Flip the Z30 over and you’ll find the woven carbon fiber back, dominated by the “seven flying D’s” logo, which sits in the center. At the top and bottom edges, you’ll find speaker grilles (one above, two below), while the primary camera module and flash are in their traditional top-left corner position. The back is removable, and it comes off with the usual nails-down-blackboard snapping and creaking that puts our teeth on edge.
What isn’t removable, however, is the battery. Much to the dismay of power users and road warriors, the company has decided to seal in the 2,880mAh power pack. That means that the only things you can access are the micro-SIM and microSD card slots, the latter of which is there to complement the 16GB of on-board storage.
The BlackBerry Z30 has plenty of things going in its favor. It’s well-designed, isn’t cumbersome to hold and, despite its size, looks really stylish. Moreover, BlackBerry 10 is well-suited to a bigger display and the 5-incher here is a good one. So had the Z30 been the first BB10 device launched back in January, perhaps there would have been room for more optimism.
We’re always full of praise for devices with a strong battery and, while BlackBerry diehards will be annoyed that the cell isn’t removable, a 13-hour intensive stint still means it should last for a full day of work or keep you entertained on a long-haul flight.
However, we can’t be universal in our praise because there are so many small things that add up to a frustrating experience. The constant crashes, middle-of-the-road camera and poor call quality erase much of the goodwill the handset has otherwise earned.
The BlackBerry Z30 was one of the best BlackBerry 10 devices developed, and if you\’re already a convert, this is still one that we’d recommend.