Skip to main content

A first look at BlackBerry's giant Z30 and cross-platform BBM app

A first look at BlackBerry's giant Z30 and cross-platform BBM app

Share this story

Gallery Photo:
Gallery Photo:

While BlackBerry seems to be preparing for the worst, it's also readying two of its more interesting new products: a cross-platform version of its classic BBM service and the 5-inch BlackBerry Z30, a more powerful and larger cousin of the Z10. The two don't come out for two days and a week, respectively, but we've gotten a quick look at both.

BBM has been a long time coming, and the result is a fairly slick-looking app with the bright, flat design language we've come to expect from just about everything. Coming to both iOS and Android this weekend, it runs on the same servers as its native BlackBerry counterpart, and BlackBerry is selling the service partly as a secure alternative to existing competitors. That said, its user experience doesn't have any immediately notable advantages over services like Whatsapp. The design includes just about everything you'd expect: a slide-out side menu includes group messaging features and other settings, while a contacts list lets you talk to individual users. Normally, you'll likely be making contacts online, but if you'd like to do it in person, there's both a PIN and a QR option.

The iOS app we saw is simple and pretty intuitive at first glance, but there's nothing really compelling to people who haven't already invested in BlackBerry's ecosystem. While BBM was early to over-the-top messaging, it's late to the cross-platform game, and we didn't find any pleasant surprises in the few minutes we spent with it.

The Z30, by contrast, is immediately eye-catching, if only because of its size. Even if 5 inches isn't too unusual now, it's still a big phone, and the pre-production model we saw was made larger by a thick faux-leather case that won't be on the final version. Without the case the phone was backless, but assuming the shell adds the millimeter we were told it would, it'll be fairly thin considering its sizable battery. Unfortunately, the design itself isn't much to speak of. The bottom chin has a sleek metallic sheen, but the bezel is otherwise frustratingly shiny and cheap-looking, and the screen itself is serviceable but not spectacular. Sound quality is also supposed to be much improved, and it certainly did seem clearer than the Nexus 4 we used for comparison.

The Z30's BlackBerry 10.2 OS is meant to be best when used over time — its "learning" feature slowly figures out the most important messages you want and collects them on a "Priority Hub" — and while new features like notifications are welcome, it's hard to gauge their usefulness without spending some time with the phone. With the Z30 coming out next week in the UK and Middle East, then rolling out elsewhere this fall, it won't be long until those features are put to the test — along with BlackBerry enthusiasts' fondness for giant screens.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Not just you

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.