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

Z30 Update 10.2.1


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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