The Good The BlackBerry Leap smartphone is a regular workhorse with the generic BlackBerry productivity and security principle.
The Bad The Amazon app store lacks many of the popular apps found on Google Play or the Apple iOS app store.
The Bottom Line BlackBerry Leap pulls out a physical keyboard to lure people looking for a modern smartphone, but the lack of apps and a clunky camera keep this device out of competition.
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BlackBerry has long been the word for mobile security and productivity, and that won’t change with the BlackBerry Leap. Available for $ 275 or £ 199 unlocked in the UK (around $ 394), this phone does a great job of honoring the BlackBerry business-oriented ethos, except for one: there is no keyboard.
For good or bad, the physical keyboard on the last few BlackBerry devices has moved these phones to a rather specific niche. But, striking out the main differentiator of the platform, we are left with a 5-inch touchscreen device with a scanty camera, which is lined with a limited, unstable platform that simply cannot stand up to competitors of Android or iPhone.
Up close with the BlackBerry Leap (pictures)
- 5-inch display, 1280×720 pixels resolution, 293ppi (pixel density)
- 144×72.8×9.5 mm (5.77 inches by 2.87 inches by 0.37 inches)
- 170 grams (6 ounces)
BlackBerry Leap is a regular black plate that looks and feels professional, fanciful. There’s not much to blossom or decorate here, just a 5-inch edge-to-edge display and a BlackBerry icon at the bottom. The textured picture on the back provides a noticeably nice phone.
On the right side of the phone are volume controls and a BlackBerry Assistant button that calls the BlackBerry Virtual Assistant, companies take on Apple’s Siri, Android Google and Android Cortana from Microsoft. You’ll find a headphone jack and a lock button at the top, while a SIM card slot and a microSD slot on the left cover can support up to 128GB of cards. The cover is a pain to open and I usually kept a paper clip nearby to help get the cards in and out.
The 5-inch, 1,280×720-pixel Leap display is a bit low, but the screen looks great: the colors are bright and accurate, and they don’t change no matter how I hold the display. The Leap also looks pretentious and heavier than it looks at 6 ounces (170 grams), but you certainly won’t have any problems.
What exactly is different here: the keyboard is gone. The BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic were divergent devices, each sacrificing for molding and functionality to connect the QWERTY keyboard to a modern smartphone. But as problematic as these keyboards were in a world populated with 5-inch devices and programs to stroll around, they remain an important part of the BlackBerry experience.
Software and features
- BlackBerry OS 10.3.1
- Amazon app store support for Android
- BlackBerry World App Store
Of course, BlackBerry has created many touchscreen devices. But without the physical keyboard, the Leap doesn’t stand out very well. This is ultimately a software problem. Accessing Android apps through the Amazon App Store remains one of the best features introduced with BlackBerry 10.3.1 . With it, BlackBerry users experience the taste of applications available on Android. But it just tastes – the choice of programs is extremely limited compared to what you will find in the official Google Play Store. App compatibility is also not guaranteed, and in some cases, like Crossy Road, Android apps are not downloaded at all. For this you will also have access to applications from the BlackBerry World Store, and if you have an APK for the application you want to install, you can also download it.
The notion of getting your “serious” apps from BlackBerry World and then looting in the Amazon app store for fun is not lost on me, but if you’re looking for a well-rounded device, you’d better build the platform, with more developer support.
The rest of the BlackBerry OS 10 experience is identical to what we saw in BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic . A focus on productivity and security does not disappoint people who work for high security companies. But platforms like Android and iOS offer more choices.
Let’s start with the typing experience. The Leap Virtual Keyboard is fast and accurate and has a great typing function that puts recommendations right on your keyboard – just swipe your finger across the word to save precious screen space. But Android and more recently, iOS allow you to choose – from a variety of different types – any keyboard that suits you, which is probably more important to most users.
Then there’s the BlackBerry Hub, which puts all your mail, texts, and messages in one easy place. It can certainly help you keep an eye on everything that comes in, but individual applications still prevail when it comes time to actually respond to someone. Double if you use an unsupported platform like Google Hangouts.
You can start the BlackBerry Assistant by holding the side button and it will answer the questions, set a reminder and do all sorts of useful things. But for some time now we have Gray Google Google Gray and Windows Cortans iOS. And these platforms are ready to go a little further: Google Now will soon offer much more contextual awareness , Gray is ready for control some of your household appliances and Cortana brings her witty signature almost every single one of your devices .
There are quite a few features that you will only find on BlackBerry devices, and although they are not disappointing, they are largely limited to companies that are overflowing with the BlackBerry ecosystem. Consider the BlackBerry balance available to companies connected to BES10 . Balance lets you create crisp workspaces and personal workspaces on your work device, so you can save work files and messages other than personal life without having to juggle across multiple devices.
And here is BlackBerry Blend, which is a kind of command center for BlackBerry users. This is an application that gives you almost full control over your BlackBerry from another device – you can check and create emails or messages, keep tabs on your meetings and access your files and your corporate network without navigating VPNs and more. . The Blend app is available for PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices and is designed to protect your data, potentially turning your phone into a pocket workstation whenever you want.
Battery Performance and Resource
- Qualcomm 8960 dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM
- 2,800mAh battery
- 16GB memory, supports up to 128GB microSD
The Leap is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm 8960 paired with 2GB of RAM. You’ll also find 16GB of storage, backed up to 128GB of microSD cards. This download is identical to that of BlackBerry Classic , and the performance matches exactly the device that comes with the keyboard. Navigating through the menus and launching on-the-go applications doesn’t take much effort, and I’ve never felt the phone hardware interfere.
The 2800 mAh Leap battery is non-removable, with up to 17 hours talk time and 9.5 hours video playback time. Blackberry claims heavy users will see up to 25 hours of battery life on the Leap. This is a big claim, but BlackBerry OS 10 has a number of battery management features that are designed to take every last drop of juice out of the battery.
|Quadrant||3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited|
|Alcatel One Touch Idol 3||21,930||7,588|
The phone is aggressive enough to turn off the screen when not in use, and you can set battery saver mode to activate when battery power reaches a certain level, and to automatically reduce processor performance, dial the display brightness and turn off the basic functionality of the phone when it is at its highest. power is needed. You can also dive into the device monitor to see what kind of applications consume the battery and get an idea of how much juice you can expect.
Of course, battery life will depend on usage. During our ongoing local video playback test, we saw an average of 10 hours and 12 minutes in airplane mode, and after 8 hours of continuous voice calling, the phone’s battery only scored 50 percent. My use involved taking many photos, using Maps, to get around the San Francisco Bay area, listening to e-mail, and making random phone calls – I easily made it through a three-day weekend before the battery finally died.
Call quality and data rate
- GSM | North and Latin America: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
- GSM | Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
- LTE | North America and Latin America: 2100 (band 1), 1900 (band 2), AWS (band 4), 850 (band 5), 2600 (band 7), 700 (band 13), 700 (band 17) MHz
- LTE | Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific: 2100 (band 1), 1800 (band 3), 2600 (band 7), 900 (band 8), 800 (band 20) MHz
- 802.11 b / g / n Wi-Fi
I tested the BlackBerry Leap on the T-Mobile network in the San Francisco Bay Area. The quality of the calls was excellent: I did not receive any complaints when talking to people, and I heard everyone I talked to was wonderful. I also have never encountered any problems with dropped calls, etc., but this is a unlocked phone; your experience will vary depending on the carrier you choose, your coverage area, and factors such as location and time of day.
Sample BlackBerry Leap Voice Quality
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During my testing, I saw an average of about 15 Mbps and 17 Mbps, although they were the same as above. Once again your results will be different: be sure to check your carrier coverage before picking your phone or signing up for service.
- 8MP rear camera
- 2 megapixel front camera
- 720p video recording
The BlackBerry Leap has a 2MP front-facing shooter and an 8MP rear camera. No camera is particularly impressive, but with enough light and a steady object, it will be able to create relevant frames.
The phone’s camera is great in simple, manageable scenes. This shot, taken inside an adequately lit restaurant, turned out to be simply gorgeous, with accurate colors and a well-defined theme.
The camera software is a bit overrated to recommend switching to HDR mode, causing the image to be oversaturated. The shutter speed was also not fast enough to mitigate the camera shake, causing some blur in this rather simple scene.
The phone chose a wide f / 2.2 aperture, despite the fact that the flash was on, resulting in generally fuzzy photos.
The BlackBerry Leap looks and looks like a professional device, and retains all the built-in security features we’ve come to expect from BlackBerry. But if BlackBerry hopes to lure new users or lure BlackBerry fans back into the fold, it will have to offer features that compete with competing platforms. This was not successful on the app front, even if you included the Amazon app store. And the omission of the physical keyboard leaves a function that people can’t really get anywhere else.
If you don’t care about the keyboard or the shortcomings of the apps, the price is also important here: the Leap’s dated processor, 720p display and cameras do not match the $ 275 price range. Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 (that’s £ 163, or $ 322 AU), featuring better features, a better camera and a 1080p display. The Lumia 640 XL LTE offers a pretty cool camera, and although Windows Phone will find you are facing the same puzzle with the underdog, it is available for £ 240, £ 219 in the UK and $ 399 in Australia.
The Leap is a great device – if the IT department gives you one of them for the next corporate job, you will not be disappointed. But if you have some special BlackBerry functionality that you can’t get anywhere else, and you don’t hate physical keyboards, you might be better off picking up your phone on a more secure platform.