Blackberry Z3 -- bouncing back

08th July 2014
Blackberry Z3 -- bouncing back

July 8 2014: That great American humorist, Mark Twain,  was in England to cover Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1897, when he   learned that  a  New York newspaper  had  carried his obituary.  He sent a wry message to  his own paper: "The report of my death is an exaggeration!"
For many months now  the media has been predicting the imminent demise of Blackberry, whose  phone-cum-messenger became one of iconic  communication products of this century.  But Blackberry won't die -- it just reinvents itself smartly, with every changing scenario.  Last year it moved beyond the classic Blackberry keyboard to  launch  a touch phone -- the Z 10 -- in recognition of evolving user preferences.  It followed  this with the Z30 -- another touch phone but  costing  over  twice as much.
Now it has  come back with a bang with the Z3 which  at Rs 15,999 is priced at exactly what the Z 10 cost but with much better specs. It was launched in Indonesia and Africa before coming to India  and is clearly Blackberry's shot across the bows of  competing value smartphones. So what does it have going for it?
Blackberry's agni astra  or secret weapon ofcourse, is BBM or Blackberry Messenger, still the most secure form of  communication. But for the touch phones, they created  a Hub  where you can get almost every important function of the phone in a single view. The phone  works with intuitive gestures --  swiping down brings up  your  personal shortcuts, swiping up exits an app; swiping up  and  to the right  takes you to the Hub.  I must admit to a few  false starts -- the gestures  take some getting used to.  Hardcore classic  Blackberry users who swear by those tiny keys, may rebel at having to use a soft keyboard, but that's the way the garam hawa is blowing folks!

At 5 inches, the phone is phone and clearly not a phablet. The two cameras  5 megapixel and 1.1 megapixel are fairly standard. I enjoyed the  Time Shift feature which allowed me to chose the best still  photo from a quick burst of shots.  1.5 GB of RAM is fine but  just  8 GB of storage is theek hai rather than   wah wah!  Ditto for the  540 by 960 pixel screen which is  just shy of a 720p HD. 
One cool feature for India is the Hinglish  capability: the keyboard is a fast learner and will soon second- guess you. Working on the latest BB10.2.1 OS,  the browser seemed really fast .
We Indians are  price conscious -- but I think the combo of the Blackberry name and the newest gesture-and-touch controls will  seem like  good value for many smart phone purchasers. And  to  Blackberry's   obituary writers,   I say,  a la Mark Twain:  BB mey abhi thak dum hai!  ( there's life in BB -- yet!)
Anand Parthasarathy