Thursday, 20 February 2014

I got a Z30!....Why?

I have used a BlackBerry Bold for Business since I was in short trousers, (corporately speaking of course).  When I got my first, I was amazed at the ability to work away from my desk, my office and even my country.  This was space age stuff indeed.  In 2011 I got a Play-book and the little tablet in conjunction with my trusty bold was a winner.  I had a big screen, fast browser, wonderful email system when linked to the bullet proof Bold.  I found a blue-tooth keyboard and gave up lugging around a laptop.

Franks Laptop

Alas time marches on and fashions changed.  BlackBerry's answer to the change in fashion was an operating system futuristically names OS10 wrapped inside new shiny modern clothes and I wanted one.  

The hype was exciting, the advertisements were weird and the launch party was splashed all over the (BlackBerry) world

BlackBerry 10 Launch Party on the Moon
As soon as I possible I pre-ordered a Z10 and paid a big wedge of £ notes to the rapacious carrier.  When it arrived on my desk I felt I was on the tip of a wave that would usher in a brave new world. including "internets of everything", a browser that was actually usable, a Hub for my messages, social media integration, remote file access and I would now be able to sample 100,000 apps all built specially for me. Plus NFC, KFC and possibly even Burger King.  The future was bright for me and looked even brighter for Blackberry.

I opened the Box and scratched my head.  My first look at the at the nondescript grey/black plastic casing left me bit underwhelmed. Nonetheless I decided to crack on and hooked it up.  I found how simple it was to connect up all my accounts, marvelled at the speedy browser and got practising with my keyboard flicks, this was great!.  All was not rosy however, for the first few days the phone switched itself off inexplicably, the battery life hovered between three and four hours. The phone also got suspiciously warm when on a phone call.  This was not good I thought.  I downloaded Link.  People still complain about Link! Mk1 Link was simply a non functional web page. It didn't even have a help file, probably because Link didn't work therefore no help was needed.

BlackBerry worked hard and launched a series of upgrades that dealt with all these problems, one by one everything was tweaked and polished until almost everything was perfect. I was happy and had a very functional, practical work tool. 

The first OS10 phones got quite warm when in use
Something always slightly rankled though, the plastic body of the Z10 was less durable than my trusty Bold.  The Zed collected numerous little dents and scrapes around the edges, these little knocks would not have bothered my little Bold caused but caused irreparable damage to my new OS10 marvel.  

The other thing is of course the looks of the Z10,  Notwithstanding the design awards it has collected it is certainly an acquired taste. I sometimes looked with hidden envy at the colourful Lumia's and Beautiful Sony's and thought to myself. "If I had a ruler and a pencil, I probably would have done just as good a job drawing a rectangular slab of plastic but at least I could have coloured it in with a crayon to make it look happier."  The USP of the Z10 is a brilliant OS but it just didn't look good sitting on the shelf in the store. 

In short, as good a phone as the Z10 is I always felt it was released before it was ready and I never really forgave it.

   Happy          Sleepy        Sneezy        Grumpy        Bashful       Dopey        Doc 

Then along came the Z30, this time there was no noticeable launch party, it crept into the stores and BlackBerry ads in a slightly secretive manner. It was plainly embarrassed by its slightly older siblings and obviously did not wish to be associated with the undelivered promise of its predecessors.  I liked that pragmatic but humble stance.
One rainy Saturday (and being England that is every Saturday) I went into a store to meet the Z30 for the first time.  I beat my way through the Android sales automatons and stared down the supercilious iPhone geniuses until I reached the BlackBerry podium, which was artfully placed beside the store toilet.  There it was, the Z30.  I picked it up and marvelled at the finish and heft, it felt balanced and expensive.  I couldn't use it because as is normal practice the store had covered the screen with a cable tie in order to make it impossible to demo and sell. I called over one of the store Androids and instructed him to remove the cable tie, he called the manager.  I was rude to the manager and he eventually removed the obstruction.

I held it, I liked it and I now have one!

The is not a review, I am neither qualified or interested in pretending to be qualified to review a smart device but I can tell you my impressions.  Other than Battery life There is very little (if any) functional difference between the Z10 and the Z30. However after two weeks of use I can tell you how I feel and what I noticed.

When I am holding the Z30 it feels like an expensive piece of equipment. The sound quality on calls and when playing music through the speakers is noticeably better, the virtual keyboard is slightly bigger and I find it easier to peck and swipe. The glass on the front feels softer to the touch (seriously) and it feels easier to move my finger across the screen.  The aluminium finish on the bottom is attractive and also means I don't get the phone the wrong way round when taking pictures (I know, I am a twit).  The screen looks sharper and it is obviously bigger which is useful for manipulating spreadsheets and playing videos and presentations.

However the biggest difference is that when people see it they remark on it. Unlike the Z10 everyone who has seen it has admired it.  two acquaintances have even purchased one after using mine for a short time. They particularly  remarked on the browser speed and were really impressed by the Battery Life.  This third party admiration makes me feel good in a shallow pleasant way.

To conclude my ramblings, I always felt that the Z10 was rushed out, half finished and unloved, it pretty soon became a useful and effective work tool and in the long run I grew to like the Z10 a lot, but I love the Z30. 

My new Best Friend

J Caloy tells us why he changed his Z10 for a Z30

French Realism, Weird BlackBerry Advert