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First Look: Blackberry's big, bold Z30

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First Look: Blackberry's big, bold Z30

4:07 /

The Z30 is Blackberry's biggest, baddest mobile messaging device yet.

Hi, guys. This is Brian Bennett from CNET and right now we're taking a First Look at the new BlackBerry Z30. The Z30 isn't exactly new. It hit the European markets at the end of September 2013. Still, the device is just beginning to make its way to other shores. For example Verizon said it will sell the handset in November for $199.99. The Z30 is BlackBerry's biggest screened smartphone yet. It packs a large 5-inch, 720p HD resolution display which the company says has a pixel density of 295 ppi. Of course that's nowhere near sharp as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 whose full HD screens offer 468 ppi and 441 ppi respectively. I have to say that the Z30 display doesn't seem very bright either. Still, since it uses OLED technology it has high contrast and wide viewing angles. Shaped like your average smartphone slab, at first glance the Z30 could be any Android handset. As a matter of fact its black chassis and silver accents not to mention its soft touch back remind me of phones I've seen from HTC and Motorola. If you look closer though, you begin to see what sets this device apart even if you didn't notice the Z30's twin BlackBerry logos. Above the screen is the iconic BlackBerry notification light which flashes an angry red when alerts occur. There's a 2-megapixel front camera here too, 2 ports for micro-HDMI and micro-USB connections sit on the left edge. Up top is a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and power button while on the right you'll find volume and play/pause controls. Ringing the device though are 6 microphones which BlackBerry claims will help the phone deliver unprecedentedly clear calls and pristine recorded audio quality. The Z30 also has a set of powerful stereo speakers too on the top and bottom edge of the phone. I can vouch that they indeed get very loud, perhaps the loudest I've ever heard from a smartphone yet. Under the back cover is a high-capacity 2880 milliamp battery. Road warriors will certainly appreciate that it's also removable. Placed here as well are slots for micro-SD memory cards and micro-SIM cards. Also slick is that the BlackBerry Z30 supports the Qi standard for wireless charging. BlackBerry boasts too that Z30 should have a mixed use runtime of 25 hours. Another bold claim BlackBerry makes is that thanks to something called a Paratech antenna the Z30 can adjust its cellular reception on the fly. The idea here is to grab a better lock on data and voice connections when signal strength is low. The Z30 also connects to Verizon's LTE data network if you're within its 4G cellular footprint. The Z30 software has been updated as well. The phone runs the new BlackBerry 10.2 operating system that has a few fresh tricks up its sleeve. Along with the familiar peek gesture to quickly see your messages and the BlackBerry Hub unified inbox there's a new Priority Hub. The Priority Hub will pay attention to who you interact with most whether on Twitter, Facebook, email, text, or what have you then float those conversations up to the top of a Priority Hub view. If you're familiar with the cameras on the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 the Z30 won't offer many surprises. The Z30 uses the same 8-megapixel sensor as its predecessor in addition to the Time Shift feature which takes multiple shots at once so you can choose the best one. BlackBerry has added an HDR mode which uses the backside illuminated sensor to brighten shadow detail in strong backlighting. Powering the Z30 software is a 1.7 gigahertz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and quad-core Adreno graphics. That's backed up by 2 gigabytes of RAM 16 gigabytes of internal storage. I'm Brian Bennett for CNET and you've just taken a First Look at the BlackBerry Z30. For more, check out our full review.

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