BlackBerry Z30 Review Update, Who Knew .1 Was So Big?

by nessel on March 31, 2014


Ivory soap is 99.44% pure.  I love soap as much as the next guy, but if tomorrow they made it 99.54% pure I really doubt I wold notice the difference.  On the other hand, when BlackBerry turns things up a tenth of a notch, you can absolutely tell the difference!

A few weeks ago we did a BlackBerry 7 Day Challenge, swapping out our iPhone 5 for the BlackBerry Z30.  You can read about our experiences here…but as you will see if you read the comments, we really were not getting the full experience.  You see we had BlackBerry OS 10.2.0.  BlackBerry fans told us we needed 10.2.1.   Really, how much of a difference could there be from 10.2.0 to 10.2.1? It turns out, a tremendous amount…

Please watch our updated review of the BlackBerry Z30 running 10.2.1 -

The App Gap Becomes The App Crack

By far the biggest issue I had with the Z30 when doing my initial review was the lack of apps available in BlackBerry World.  Major apps, like Netflix were not available and this was a deal breaker for many people.   How could BlackBerry overcome this “app gap” with iOS and Android?  By making it easy to run Android apps with 10.2.1.

Installing the Amazon App store just involves visiting the Amazon site and hitting install.  If you want a more complete Google Play like experience, you can side-load the Snap app.  Side loading does involve a few extra steps, but once you have Snap installed, you never need to think about side-loading again.  Pick an app, click install and be running Android apps like Netflix in no time.  The App Gap suddenly shrinks to an App Crack.

As we state in the video, there are still Android apps that will not work with the Z30 – including apps that require Google Play Services.  Getting an exact percentage of Android apps that work is tricky, but my very unscientific poll puts it at about 65-85% compatibility.  Most the major apps you will actually use on a daily basis do work, but if you want access to as many apps as possible, the Z30 still falls behind Android and iPhones.

My Jealous PC Just Tried To Knock My Z30 Off The Table

I could swear my PC just tried to push the Z30 off the table and make it look like an accident.  Perhaps my PC is right to feel threatened.  Add a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to the Z30 and use Miracast to turn your HDTV into a monitor and suddenly the Z30 starts to feel like a PC.  Throw in a USB OTG (On the Go) cable and you start to understand why BlackBerry users love their phones.

My iPhone is a very good phone, which is incredibly easy to use.  I have endless apps and I can easily share photos and FaceTime with the millions of other iPhone users.  What my iPhone is not – is expandable.  There is no SD Card slot to expand my storage when I fill the phone with those endless apps.  No HDMI output.  No USB OTG allowing me to use all my USB devices and USB thumb drives.  In short, the iPhone is fantastic if you want a phone that works exactly as it comes, right out of the box.  If you want to expand the phone and move beyond basic phone functions, the closed iOS system will become a hinderance.

There is No Right Phone, But The BlackBerry Z30 Now Belongs In The Conversation

What is the car everyone should drive?  What is the city everyone should live in?  What is the best game in the world?  These are of course unanswerable questions and I would add – what is the best smartphone – to this list as well.  Channeling Yoda, I would say “the best smartphone is the smartphone that is best for you, great warrior.

What BB 10.2.1 does is make BlackBerry relevant again.  The Z30 can now enter the debate on best smartphones.  It is still not the phone to get if you want access to the broadest selection of apps, but the fact that it can run the majority of Android apps means the app gap is no longer a deal breaker.

But Why Buy A Z30 When You Can Get an Android Phone That Runs ALL Android Apps?

As I discussed the Z30 with friends, many had the same basic sentiment -

Fine, the Z30 can run some Andorid apps now, but why not get an Android phone from Samsung and be able to run all the apps?

Ah, and herein lies the major predicament for the marketing folks at BlackBerry.  The #1 complain you hear about BlackBerry phones is that they don’t have the apps that Android and iOS have, the dreaded App Gap.  If the BlackBerry folks focus on closing the App Gap, making BB10 run as many Android apps as possible, they are chasing a ghost.  The Z30 could get up to running 99% of all Android apps, but then people would still say, why buy a Z30 when it can’t run ALL the Android apps.

All the focus on closing the App Gap actually distracts from the real reason you would buy a Z30 over on iPhone or Samsung phone – in many ways it simply works better.  The reason you would buy a Z30, which can only run 70% of Android Apps over an Android phone is because it has a bunch of other features and functionality that many Android phones don’t have.

Do you need BBM Groups, BlackBerry Hub, USB OTG, MiraCast, Built in File Manager for your PC or scarily accurate predictive typing?  I don’t know, but those are the questions you need to ask yourself when evaluating the Z30.   Unfortunately, reviewers, myself included, tend to focus on what is missing on a phone and the missing apps on the Z30 compared to an Iphone are an easy target.  If everyone keeps focusing on the App Gap, BlackBerry can not win.

After using the Z30 for more than a month now, I realize that App lovers are never going to be satisfied with this phone.  To quote that incredibly annoying Frozen song that will not stop going through my head, I have this advice for the BlackBerry marketing folks – “Let It Go.”  The new 10.2.1 update makes it so that a lack of apps is no longer a reason not to buy the Z30.  The apps the update does provide is also not enough to make it a reason to buy the Z30.  There will always be some small App Gap, but it is small enough we can stop talking about it and instead focus on all the other wonderful features the Z30 has to offer.

More Information:

Read Our BlackBerry 7 Day Challenge, Swapping Our iPhone 5 for a Z30.

Visit BlackBerry to Learn More

Z30 Update 10.2.1

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  • achow


    Really appreciate the honest review. Combine that with clever titles, I thoroughly enjoyed the article.

    Also, THANK YOU for featuring miracast. it’s awesome! for your next feature can you please try out DocsToGo and perhaps the “business oriented” suite that blackberry has to offer.

    It dramatically decreases the mess and clutter for college students by enabling them to make easy presentations and gain access to their cloud files (I see you’ve already covered some of that in your video).

    The biasfree journalism is very refreshing :)

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks very much for the kinds words. Yes, we completely skipped over business stuff, which we understand is a strong point for BlackBerry. The reason is, our audience is more consumer oriented, so we decided to focus on that side of the phone. Clearly a lot of different ways this phone can be used!

  • Stephen_81

    Thank you Dan For another great review.

    You were very detailed in addressing feature about the Z30, far more so than many techblogs who review phones as their business.

    If you are still using your Z30, I suggest setting up Box and DropBox, you will see they actually integrate into the filemanager just like your MacBook did.

    This will allow you to be sharing files with your family easily like iCloud does except it is cross platform.

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks for reading and watching. Was not aware that Box and DropBox would work with the FileManger, sounds like a great feature. The video, at 11 minutes long was the longest video we have ever done…and still looks like we missed features. The Z30 is like an onion, you just keep peeling away and finding new features :)

      • the brother

        I would like to add Microsoft’s ‘OneDrive’ (formerly Sky Drive) to Stephen’s comment, works the same way.

      • Stephen_81

        There are many things like that in BlackBerry.

        I don’t recall if you use Evernote at all, but it too integrates into the BlackBerry reminder app so all note taking can be kept in one place your synced evernotes and the notes you want to live just on your phone.

        Your onion example is all to fitting with BlackBerry, There are layers upon layers of things and you can just keep going. You’ll find yourself looking for hidden things in no time.

    • freddysrevng2

      Good call, Stephen… I use Dropbox and Evernote on my Z30…. great apps…

  • itoaster

    wtf. I didn’t knew I could do all that to a phone. and to a BLACKBERRY phone. wtf!? it didn’t even advertised itself when it came out. oh I ordered one already, coming this week. hope to use all the hidden features. :) thanks!

    • Darryl

      I take it your a Apple guy.. and your now interested in trying a BB. Please let us know what your think of the Z30. Just pls take the time to really learn the phone before you pass judgment.

      • orgasmicDANGER

        Lol I L-O-V-E watching iPhone users try out BB10, especially on my old Z10 (I switched to Q10 recently). When I tell them to unlock my device, they just press the power key, the lock screen pops out, and they’re like “is that it?” lmao

        After showing them the ropes and the features for a while, suddenly they realise how simple it really is and then they just take over my BlackBerry for a while. haha

        • Darryl

          The biggest problem for BB right now is that people just don’t know how great BB10 is. And for some reason BB just isn’t telling anyone. Plus people like what they like.. and don’t want to know about how great BB is. It’s a big problem. It’s people like Dan that help teach people who don’t know.

          • GoBears49

            I have said for some time that BB should take advantage of all its fans and pay them a modest amount (with a cutoff) to become paid proselytizers to convince non-users to buy a BB10. Say $30 for the first phone, $20 for the second phone, and $10 for the third phone.

            This could all be set up online, which would have to include the name of the proselytizer, the BB10 phone they own, the name of the buyer they talked into buying a BB10 and the type of phone they bought, and perhaps a few other items (including month of purchase for the new phone). I think most people would be honest about this. But I think it is clear it is worth it to try this idea in a test market to see what impact it has on sales and the cost of the program.

          • Darryl

            Sounds good to me. E-mail that idea to BB.

    • ArneLine

      features not hidden – laying there in the open :-)

  • FM
  • peter

    Great follow-up, Dan! One very useful app for business types is BlackBerry Express. You can now create a presentation on your phone and share it on the spot with either HDMI or Miracast. Here are a few more details:

    • Dan Dad Does

      Hey Peter thanks for the comments. Just installed BlackBerry Express – very cool! Thanks for the tip.

  • veeru789

    Great article! Thank you for not being biased. Wow so refreshing to read.

    This time won’t annoy you with a long post but just wanted to remind you of two simple useful tips on Bb10

    1. Zip/unzip files straight from your phone. No need of apps. Very handy when we need that little bit of compression.
    2. File manager : integrate box, Dropbox and one drive. And use them like native partition on phone and doesn’t feel like a cloud services.

    The small things we take for granted on BlackBerry are a luxury on other platforms. We don’t need apps to do everything. Coz most of it is all native.

    Once again, thank you for a wonderful unbiased review.


    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks very much for the comments and tips! Really interesting how many deep features there are on the BlackBerry OS10.

  • Herbersh

    Great Job.

    I have been using a Z30 for a few months. Mostly email, BBM, texts and phone calls. It NEVER lets me down. I can now compose most of my emails faster on the phone than on my laptop with the crazy good keyboard. Even predicts most of the medical terms saving me plenty of key strokes.

    Thanks Dan

  • Peter

    The main question is, are you using the Z30 as your daily driver now?

  • Jai Krishnan Arun

    Dan, is the BB your daily driver?

  • Darryl

    Great job.. You made this BB fan proud. The Z30 is a awesome phone.. thanks to people like you more people may know this also. Try BBM Channels.. let us know what you think.

    • Dan Dad Does

      Hey Darryl thanks for taking the time to watch and read the review. 2 Months ago I knew nothing about the Z30…now I know about 40% of what the phone can do :) Just a testament to how deep the phone and feature set is.


    Try the tv on the go app on the new upgrade to watch TV. Its free. Try this Amazon version

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks – we will take a look. TV On the Go, sounds like something my kids would probably love all too much!

      • MYOFFICE

        Thanks and I tried to only include Family friendly channels where possible, I loved the review, The BB is so underrated- Their marketing is their problems.They are Tech guys who are not market savvy.

  • Anthony

    Amazing review. Just wondering which net gear push to tv you are using as I want to order one now.

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks @Anthony! We used the NetGear Push2TV PTV3000. Just make sure you updated the firmware as soon as you get it – then it works well. We will probably do a standalone review of the Push2TV in a few weeks.

      • Anthony

        Thanks for the info. Look forward to that review also.

  • ArneLine

    just a little correction… About the remote files feature, your computer/phones does NOT has to be on a wifi net… You can enable access also via mobile network.. So when you have a computer ex. at homeoffice, you can easily access it from your BB10 device (not only Z30) – from wherever you are… I use it all the time, and not only to copy files From, but also copy files To the computer – works like a charm

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks for the taking the time to watch that incredibly long video review. We have done over 450 videos, and I believe this one was the longest. Sorry, I may not have been clear in the video. All I was trying to say is that if your computer is off or in sleep mode, it will not show up in the BB File Manager. Is this correct? Seems like it has to be, as how else can you access your PC if it is not on and connected to the outside world via internet or cellular? Let us know if I have this wrong…would not be the first or last time!

      • ArneLine

        Yes – the computer must be On, connected to the Internet, and BBLink should be run at least once after a boot to initialize the tunnel from computer to BlackBerry. The phone uses this tunnel to safely communicate with your computer.

  • freddysrevng2

    Dan… I asked you to do another Z30 review after upgrade to 10.2.1 and you DELIVERED…

    Outstanding job of highlighting some key differences with the Z30 and you are the “1st Reviewer on any site – including CrackBerry – to show Netflix running flawlessly on the Z30″…. thank you…

    I am running the “1 Mobile Market” on my Z30 to download Android apps easily – another option for your readers…

    Great Job! I told the CB Team to watch this review, as a group, because they can learn something from it in presenting “Unique Features”…

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks much for the kind words and the tip on “1 Mobile Market” and Storymaker. We have reviewed a large number of gadgets over the years and normally after a few weeks with a gadget, you feel like you get it. The Z30 just feels so deep that there is always something more you don’t know about it! Great there is a very a supportive group of BlackBerry users to help the newbies (like me) out.

  • Mohit

    One of the features that I find myself using regularly is the ability to view all attachments at a glance in the Hub. No more time spent wondering who’d sent that important file last week from that unfamiliar mail ID – select the attachment view from the more panel in the Hub and find documents in a jiffy!

    • Dan Dad Does

      Hey Mohit,

      Had no idea…just did that and WOW! I can’t tell you how much time I waste searching for an attachment, that I know some PR reps sent me…but I can’t figure out who. That is so cool, being able to see the attachments sorted by date – just a tiny feature that is a big help. Thanks for sharing!

      • Martin Carnegie

        Another thing is the “pinch” in the email. The default pinch will show only unread email. To undo it, just pull apart :)

        • orgasmicDANGER

          This one is my favourite of all the Hub secret gestures. Time saver!

          • Bob Huddleston

            Just Made My Day! Used z30 for over a year without knowing this gesture. Hot dog!

      • I7up2001

        What is also very nice about this feature is that it’s not sending the file from the device, but it’s sending it from the server, So if it’s a large file you save on data, Very nice feature if your data plan is limited or you are travelling outside you country and have limited data.

  • Sweet

    Great video and review. I like how you didn’t just talk about the features, but showed how they could be used in real-life situations that could realistically happen. Great job.

    I should mention that if you have a smart TV, one which supports WiFi Direct (Samsung calls it AllShare), then you don’t need a Miracast dongle. Instead, you just turn on WiFi Direct on your TV and connect your Z30 to your TV like you would connect your Z30 to WiFi network (the TV’s name shows up on your phone as a WiFi network.) I’ve tested this with a Z10 and it works great.

    Also, have you tried connecting the DSLR camera directly to the OTG cable using a USB cable ? I haven’t tried it myself, but it sounds like it should work, which means you wouldn’t need a SD card reader and you wouldn’t have to take the SD card out of the camera.

    • Sweet

      Correction: it looks like WiFi Direct does not support mirroring, but it does allow you to play movies and music, and show photos on the TV wirelessly.

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Good tips. I have not tried hooking my DSLR direct to the Z30, but that is a good idea and will have to try it. One thing I like about popping out the SD Card on the camera is that I don’t drain my camera battery while transferring photos.

  • carlos

    Outstanding tutorial and showcase of what this amazing device can do. It’s wonderful to see a complete presentation that both educates and shows the features and power of this device. I have been using it for quite a while now so there was nothing new for me here but still seeing it displayed like this so that everyone can see if fantastic. I will be sharing this video internally in our office as I know there are many that don’t know all the wonderful things it can do. What was key in this for me is that many of features to get these things running don’t cost an arm and a leg. We are talking about a usb2go cable for 3 dollars, the hub for 5 to 10, bluetooth keyboard and mouse also very innexpensive. And none are proprietary… you hear that Apple….. :-) Thanks again and appreciate it

    • Dan Dad Does

      Thanks Carlos. Yes, you make a good point – the cables, keyboard, mouse – all pretty inexpensive. In addition, as others have pointed out – if you have a newer Smart TV, you don’t need the Push2TV (which is the most expensive add-on at about $59) to do MiraCast. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  • Samer Mouksassi

    Great review thanks if you ever install Blackberry Travel and book a hotel with or a flight with kayak you will see how magical it is !

  • orgasmicDANGER

    I love my Q10! Thanks for the updated review. I knew you would like 10.2.1!

  • Pingback: The BlackBerry Challenge, Cheating On My iPhone With A BlackBerry Z30 | Dad Does

  • levi

    Hi, Dan great review! one of my favorite features of the BB10 phones is the ability to surf the web in desktop mode and see websites exactly how the look as if you were using your desktop. I use my z10 as my primary web surf tool its so good.

  • itoaster

    UPDATE: I got my Z30! :) using it for 2 days now, set up my email and other social accounts. its SOOOOOOOOOOO SMOOTH!!! I find the hub cool and practical, the speakers were so good that I’ve played my music through iit almost all the time. for me bb10 is a combination of ios and android interface. oh I almost forgot, the MULTITASKING ability of this OS is 2 years ahead of the competition! 1 second to get into another open app, while the competition would be 2-3 seconds considering the moment you double press a button.. in bb10, only 1 swipe!! I would use this as my main phone for now. my 5s would work best as a mp3 player. :)

    • Darryl

      Great to hear. I love the Hub.. i do everything in there. BB10 is a game changer. I wish more people knew how great it is.

  • Darryl

    So… are you still loving your Z30??

  • mgaspence

    Your review is spot on. But along with the App gap there should be some understanding of the knowledge gap providers representatives have regarding Blackberry products.

    I went to two Verizon stores in the last two months. One was in New York the other in Florida. I wanted to get my hands on a Z30 and was going to give my iPhone 5 to my wife. Neither store had the Z30 or Z10 in stock. I literally got laughed at by the sales representatives in the store. They had no idea about the phone’s features or long battery life, snapdragon fast browsing, hub for messages. Sad really. Easy to see why Blackberry is having so much trouble.

    Great review by the way. Informative on many levels.

  • Sixtyseven

    Really enjoyed the video. For once some one from the iPhone world didn’t trash Blackberry. I will be visiting your web site more often. Can you guys do one for the Passport. I hear it’s going to be revolutionary.

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