In February 2015, BlackBerry fans around the world eagerly waited to hear which new device BlackBerry would announce and show to the public. Cue, the BlackBerry Leap. Follow on to read my thoughts and impressions on BlackBerry’s latest all touch smartphone offering.
When I held and used the BlackBerry Z3. I had a few ‘quirks’ with the device. For starters, I felt the design was a big breathe of fresh air in comparison to the BlackBerry Z30 and Z10. The BlackBerry Z30, however, was more preferable simply because of the power it offered (1.7GHz Dual Core Processor, 2GB RAM, 2800mAh battery, Micro HDM Port, NFC) It was (at the time) a viable upgrade from the Z10.
Fast forward to February 2015 and BlackBerry has announced a re-hashed Z10, only to incorporate a similar design to the Z3, the battery life of the Z30 and a much cheaper price tag. Intriguing.
Performance and OS
The BlackBerry Leap review unit I received came with OS 10.3.1.2576 (SR 10.3.1.1779). OS 10.3 brought in a slew of updates including UI and UX upgrades which include visual changes to the Hub, App Icons and user interaction. Whilst I’m running 10.3.2 on my primary device, the Z30, 10.3.1 is a massive improvement to the previous updates and users already familiar with BB10 will attest to this. New users who value the performance of their smartphone and want things to run the way it’s meant to will be more than happy with OS 10.3.1. BlackBerry 10 alludes well the Leap’s 1.5GHz dual core (Qualcomm 8960) processor and 2GB of RAM. In comparison to the Z30, however, users that solely depend on the best of the best on all touch device may feel more inclined to purchase the former, which packs in a micro-HDMI port, NFC, an increase in processing power and a more robust, aesthetic feel.
OS 10.3 also introduced the Amazon App Store, providing BlackBerry users with official access to Amazon’s Android app catalogue of 400,000. The offering from Amazon on a BlackBerry is a nice ordeal which gives the consumer a sense of relief that there are apps that he/she can have access to along with BlackBerry’s 120,000 on BlackBerry World. Still, there are shortcomings with this approach which was also present (however, improved) in BlackBerry’s last all touch offering, the Z3. For starters, a consumer will still not have official access to Instagram nor Snapchat, but where there’s a will, there’s a way: Via some nifty workarounds, people can unofficially have the Google Play Store where users will be able to download Instagram and Google’s 1.3+million apps. It goes without saying, without Google Play Services, the BlackBerry Android Runtime is only as good the apps that people demand it run without problems, which is roughly 90% of all Android apps. Unfortunately, the 10% missing includes all if not most of Google’s applications which essentially ties Android together.
The BlackBerry Leap comes with an 8MP rear shooter and a 2MP font facing camera. The device, with the right amount of light around the area, can take some better than average pictures. Again, I’m no photographer, so I’ll let you be the judge.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: BlackBerry Blend is the best thing BlackBerry have offered (in terms of software) since the incarnation of BBM. When I think of the business minded, motivated individuals who purchase the BlackBerry Leap, I’m excited for them. I always think they’re getting more out of BlackBerry Blend than the actual device itself. BlackBerry Blend compliments BlackBerry’s mantra of productivity superbly. This is a piece of kit in which people should not ignore and if there’s something that BlackBerry fans around the world should boast about to their friends or family, it’s BlackBerry Blend.
The BlackBerry Leap is an affordable, sleek and attractive device that (given the correct target audience that BlackBerry is aiming this device to) users will be more than happy to carry. I feel like BlackBerry has gotten their message loud and clear: if you’re one that values a smartphone for the productivity in mobile computing and appreciate a good conversation that also isn’t too hard to locate after a week’s worth of emails piled on top of it all, then the BlackBerry Leap is for you.
You might be thinking that the specifications of the Leap in 2015 is not going to cut it with the likes of spec-crazed fans. Whilst that may be true, BlackBerry isn’t entirely looking to entice that crowd, they’re looking for the people that just want to get on with their day to day goals, their dreams and their ambitions. As for the BlackBerry Leap, this device provides exactly that. Another point to make out is, the device is priced at mid-range, available by retail offerings at £200. The pricing and marketing is crucial to how people view this product before passing judgement. To begin with, BlackBerry is purely focused on the Enterprise – a segment in which it actually has a shot, and so far proving that it is becoming a viable and profitable company again. In the aftermath of the Q1 2016 earnings, a device like the Leap has never been more important in their game plan and trivial matters such as specs and apps is not part of their focus.
Overall rating: 7/10