Unlike its smaller brother, the BlackBerry Z30 covers a lot of connectivity ground with just one model version, not four. For starters, it packs quad-band 2G and penta-band 3G connectivity with support for HSDPA+ speeds. There's also penta-band LTE on board.
Local connectivity is fully featured as well. Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n handles local Internet connections and Bluetooth 4.0 handles accessories. There's also microUSB port for data connectivity with a computer and a standard microHDMI port for TV-Out.
NFC is also on board, allowing easy exchange of data. You can use the dedicated app to create tags (e.g. a tag with contact info), which you can send to another NFC-enabled phone. The app also handles reading tags and storing the data for when you're on the receiving end.
You don't need NFC to transfer tags either - the BlackBerry Z30 can create a QR code and read QR codes too, which is great for communicating with phones that don't have NFC.
While we're talking about connectivity, we have to go over BlackBerry Link - the PC Suite for the Z30. The phone has the install file for your computer, just plug it in and install the app. Luckily, you don't need it for the USB data connection to work, you can simply enable mass storage mode from the settings and simply drag and drop files on your storage card.
The PC Link has its advantages though - once everything is installed, the phone storage will appear as a drive on your computer. You don't even need the USB cable, the phone will appear as a network drive once it's on the same Wi-Fi network as the computer (you can disable this if you like).
Link can schedule phone backups and automatic sync of content (both docs and multimedia). That's great with the Wi-Fi option - it will seamlessly sync your docs at work and then your music at home, you don't need to do anything.
All that is great, but needing the app to install the right drivers is annoying. They didn't even install properly the first time around and we had to go through the Windows' Device Manager to get them to work.
Link doesn't support file drag-and-drop from regular Windows folders to the app so you should use the computer's file browser option only.
We added a test folder with four documents but Link took quite a while to scan the folder before sending it. Scanning phone content when copying on the other direction isn't speedy either.
Happily, BlackBerry Link isn't crashing as much as it used to. While there were occasional freezes here and there, the overall experience was pleasant. Kudos to BlackBerry for fixing this.
You can also share the Z30's display with an HDTV using Miracast. Wi-Fi Direct is also on board.
So in the end, mass storage is the way even if it only grants access to the microSD card and not the internal storage. Link has been polished, but we'd like to see BlackBerry keep working on it and improve it even further.
The BlackBerry Z30 has a WebKit-based browser with full Flash support. The 5" HD screen is physically as large as the droid flagship, but with that resolution it's not in the same ballpark in terms of sharpness.
The interface is pretty straightforward. The first thing you see is the New tab interface, which shows thumbnails of recently visited sites. It's a bit annoying that these can't be deleted. There's no Incognito/Private mode either, so be careful what sites you open, they will get listed there, if you visit them frequently.
Entering URLs is pretty quick thanks to the autocomplete feature, which managed to guess correctly what we're trying to type most of the time.
Anyway, the UI that displays websites is pretty Windows Phone-like - the web page takes the whole screen, except for a line at the bottom (it even covers the status bar at the top of the screen). The line at the bottom holds a Tab switcher button, Back button, URL field and a Menu key.
The Tab switcher button brings up a list of currently open tabs, along with Bookmarks, History and a New tab shortcut. The current page you're browsing is pushed to the right to reveal all those. Instead of tapping the Tab switcher button, you can swipe to the right but the gesture needs to begin at the bottom where the Tab button is.
It can be a short swipe - just enough for the option icons to show up and get docked on the left side of the screen. That seems like a handy way to keep those options and tabs always visible, but they hide as soon as you tap anything else - a missed opportunity.
Anyway, the browser is very fast and elaborate web sites are rendered without a hitch. Pinch zooming is smooth and there's double-tap to zoom too, but no text reflow. From the Menu button you get access to several more options, including Find on page and Share.
A cool option has the browser remember which tabs were open, so the tabs will still be there even if you close the browser and open it again later (similar to recent desktop browsers).
Another interesting option is Reader - it strips out the site's interface and leaves only the content, making it much easier to read on a phone's screen. It doesn't work very well with multi-page articles though.
The BlackBerry Z30 has full Flash support - it's among the last active platforms that do. The dual-core Krait processor had no problem playing a 1080p YouTube videos, for instance.
BlackBerry bragged about how good their browser is, so we ran a few benchmarks on it. At the moment, it's the top scorer at HTML5Test.com (which tests HTML5 compatibility), beating other mobile and even desktop browsers by a good margin.
Lower is better
Higher is better