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BlackBerry Z3 Hands-on: Will BlackBerry Woo Back Old Customers With This?

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We go hands-on with the BlackBerry Z3

Facing an uncertain future and major upheavals in leadership a few months ago, the company is now looking to make a comeback under the leadership of John Chen. The device that’s leading the charge? The company’s Z3, built in cooperation with Foxconn, the same people who make the iPhone. The Z3 is the most affordable device that the company has made, although it’s still priced at a hefty Php 10,990.

BlackBerry Z3 specs

  • 1.2Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor
  • Adreno 305 GPU
  • 1.5GB of RAM
  • 5-inch capacitive touchscreen, 504 x 960 resolution
  • 8GB of storage, expandable via microSD
  • 5-megapixel rear camera
  • 1.1-megapixel front camera
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, APGS
  • 3G, HSPA
  • BlackBerry 10.2.1 OS 

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Initial Impressions: A phone built for BlackBerry users

We’ll be perfectly blunt: if you have lived with Android for a long time and have never tried a BlacBerry device before, this phone isn’t for you. While it’s miles away from the pricing of other similarly specc’d devices, hardware is just a piece of the puzzle. While they didn’t say it, it’s kind of obvious that the company is looking to woo back old customers that have moved on to Android and iOS. BlackBerry has worked hard to make the BlackBerry OS to be at least on par with its competitors as far as usability is concerned, even going so far as allowing direct browser downloads and installs of Android apps from other app stores that’s not Google Play.

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The overall design is typical BlackBerry. It’s basically a smartphone with a suit on. The body, while plastic, is phenomenally well made, and the curved sides is a bit reminiscent of the Xiaomi Mi 3. The left side of the phone houses the volume rocker, power button and an extra button in the middle of the volume rocker that allows you to give out voice commands. Moving on to the back you’ll see a textured finish, allowing you to keep a tighter grip on the phone. On the right lies the slots for your SIM and microSD.

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Eagle-eyed readers will note that the Z3 does not have navigation keys on the display, capacitive or otherwise. This is because the Z3’s navigation is mostly gesture based. There is no app drawer, instead you swipe left and right to access your apps, and swipe up from the bottom of the display to get out of them.

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Again, BlackBerry has priced the Z3 at Php 10,990, quite a hefty price even though it’s the company’s most affordable smartphone right now. Will it be able to make a dent in the marketplace? Only time will tell.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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12 Comments

  1. P10, 990 for Blackberry OS 10.2.1 and Li-Ion 2500 maH batterry, 5″ display. I wonder how it feels to use this phone with pure touch gesture. (No capacitive botton) saan kaya available to..??

    1. My previous employer issued Z10s to editorial heads. It’s actually not a bad OS, but the lack of access to Android apps and Google’s ecosystem made it a pain to use. That’s only my opinion though, they may have changed things around since then.

      1. ‘BlackBerry has worked hard to make the BlackBerry OS to be at least on par with its competitors as far as usability is concerned, even going so far as allowing direct browser downloads and installs of Android apps from other app stores that’s not Google Play.’
        If you read what you have written above, you would not make the comment about Blackberry OS lacking access to Android Apps. Your comment is contradictory as the new BB10 OS can run majority, if not all, android Apps. Also the Amazon (Android) Apps. Store will be built in to the next Blackberry 10.3 OS update.
        I use IOS, android, and Blackberry 10 devises. For me, Blackberry has the best OS for its fast browser, intuitive keyboard, and the best messaging system in Blackberry Hub. In multitasking, Blackberry 10 OS is on par with Android, but definitely ahead of the IOS. After getting used to all the blackberry gestures, the buttons on all the other phone devises look ancient. Just a user opinion mind you.

  2. There are better specs at that price. This one is a goner and short live just like their previous models last year it’s bound to be 50% off in 2-4 months time after the launch. But I guess there are trying hard to stay alive i’ll give that a 3 stars, but just like Nokia X, we all know what will happen next…. Sayang!

  3. The old blackberry users are those who have used the physical keyboard. These people have already upgraded to iPhones and top of the line galaxy from Samsung. I don’t see any reason for them to downgrade to an entry level smartphone again.

  4. I have a z10 and majority of android apps work on it (you may encounter problems with apps with Google services). I have installed Snap which allows me access to my Google Play apps. I also installed Amazon appstore. ive installed android apps like ttorrent, Viber, instagram, candy crush, skype, outlook, tsikot work on my BB. The next update of BB10.3 will have the Amazon appstore built in already. Once you get used to its gestures, and learn about its great messaging features, its hard to go back to other OSes

    1. Hi AA,
      I am a former nokia then former samsung user. I got my z10 just 2 weeks ago and I am very happy. I value privacy and security which android can’t give.
      I downloaded the amazon app store to get viber.
      This bb10 OS beats android hands down. Battery life z10 can be improved though. z3 has better battery.

      I don’t think this phone will attract people who are clueless that they have no privacy with android phones. It won’t attract people who are just concerned with games only.

      1. @AA and moneyp

        the fact that you yourselves are using android apps in order to make BB useful is already a sign that you don’t use the actual BB softwares. and also about privacy, again the fact that you are using android apps is already a sign of a security flaw in the system of BB, as most of the apps there require a google service function in order to function.

        you’re just deluding yourselves into thinking you’re secure.

  5. @woot

    I deleted my viber yesterday. I realized that I did not need viber. I deleted the amazon store app then since I do not need it. So I don’t have any android apps on my phone now. So I am secure.

    BB is very useful, believe me.

    1. @moneyp

      then that entirely depends on the group that you intend to talk to. if your group of people that you talk to is on BB then that is good. BB was good but no longer good. just because it is great before doesn’t mean it is great today. if it is useful for you still then good for you. But I prefer the possibilities of android and IOS

  6. Good move. Though I have Samsung Knox for matters that needs to be taken privately and my regular stuff are just games and social apps which by essence get rid of privacy really so i think I’ll stay with my os. BTW i have bbm not so long ago but I get rid of it already viber is even better.

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