News Column

Z3 lands squarely in middle of the road

July 8, 2014

John Everington

You have to feel sorry for BlackBerry. The company that brought mobile email and messaging to the mass market is now a pale shadow of itself, accounting for less than 1 per cent of smartphone sales worldwide. Even in the UAE, one of its core markets, its brand continues to fade.

The company's new Z3 handset, retailing at Dh899, is its latest attempt to recover some ground, specifically targeting the fast growing but increasingly competitive mid-range smartphone segment.

Appearance wise, the Z3 is solidly stylish; while it's not going to win any design awards, it doesn't feel cheap. Its corners might feel a little odd for those used to rounded edges, but it sits nicely enough in the hand. Like other handsets in its class, the Z3's five-inch display goes for quantity over quality, sporting a 540 x 960 display. While this is more generous than some of its peers, colours appear more muted than in higher-priced models.

The handset offers the standard 5MP camera sported by most mid-range models. While images are fine, shutter speed is annoyingly slow. The Z3 comes with 8GB built in memory, but unlike many other mid-range handsets this is expandable via a MicroSD slot. The downside, however, is that there is no room for a second SIM card.

Such features are all very well, but are hardly unique and don't offer much to distinguish the Z3 from other smartphones in the same price range.

The Z3's one truly unique feature, and its most divisive, is the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The user interface is likely to appeal to those who know and love the BlackBerry way of doing things, but few others.

Once you get used to it, it's perfectly functional, but it still feels clunky compared with Android and Windows Mobile. Android apps can be downloaded, but only from the selection available via the BlackBerry Browser. The company's BBM is present and correct, but is no longer a key selling point, given its availability on other platforms.

So if you're a BlackBerry devotee with limited cash to splash, the Z3 is an option. For those not wedded to the platform, however, there's little to distinguish the handset from a growing range of similarly priced alternatives.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: National, The (United Arab Emirates)

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