The BlackBerry Z30 during the ice storm of 2013

I’m probably the last reporter to test the Z30 from BlackBerry Ltd. The product was released in Canada on Oct. 15 to mostly positive reviews. I got mine in late December 2013. So I’m going to forgo the usual review of the product specs and instead tell you about how the BlackBerry Z30 performed during the Toronto ice storm that occurred just before Christmas in 2013.

The greater Toronto area was hit with freezing rain that produced a 30 millimetre coat of ice on trees, power lines, traffic signs and other things. Trees and hydro poles literally snapped and more than 300,000 residents were without power for days. The ice storm basically crippled the city of Toronto for about a week.

I was one of the lucky ones who still had power but just down the road from me two trees fell on some power lines that caused a blackout at a plaza and surrounding neighbourhood. Since this happened during the night I was oblivious to how bad it actually was. On Saturday morning I take my daughter to her hockey practice and I was causally walking out the door with hockey roller bag in tow and I slipped on the ice that formed on my porch and the Z30, that was in my pocket, went flying down the steps, crashing onto the driveway and then sliding at least 10 feet underneath my SUV. My daughter retrieved it using her hockey stick and I thought ‘well there is no need now to do a drop test’.

The Z30 was still in one piece and it did not have a scratch on it. The unit worked flawlessly as it did moments prior to its fall.

My neighbours are mostly elderly and they asked me to take photos of some of the tree damage, which I took with the Z30 rear facing camera. The automatic auto-focus with just a slight touch I found super effective. Since it was cold I was worried about image stabilization, but the shots I took were great.


The touchscreen sensitivity actually adjusted to the way I touched the screen so from a usability standpoint I thought it made me more productive.

Several of these photos needed to be emailed to family members and the touch keyboard I though was simply outstanding.

I presented the Z30 to many of my family members over the Christmas break. Almost all of them have not yet seen the Z30 and either use an iPhone or Android device. All of them were amazed at how good the Z30 performed in their short time with the product.

There is certainly a lot of speculation on BlackBerry’s future, but if people decided to give a product like the Z30 a chance instead of just arbitrarily returning to the iPhone or a droid then BlackBerry’s future may be a bright one.

One of the more consistent comments I did get from family members where just how faster the Z30 operated. That is mainly because of its dual core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with QuadCore Adreno 320 GPU, but also in part to its 5-inch high resolution display. The SuperAmoled screen provides a lot of real-estate to operate with and thus improves productivity. As an example the keyboard is bigger so no more hunting for the shift-key.

One more thing; the Z30 operating brilliantly under severe icy conditions but even today in minus 22 temperatures with a wind chill at minus 44 the Z30 did not skip a beat.

I’m not sure if the top executives at BlackBerry know just how rugged the Z30 is, but I was impressed on how well it performed in less than ideal conditions.

Two quick hits before I go. John Kispert, the CEO of Spansion, has joined the board of directors of Gigamon, a traffic visibility solution provider.

Vancouver-based PowerDisc Development Corp., a technology fuel cell solution provider, announced that Dr. Andreas Truckenbrodt has been appointed as the chairman of the board replacing John Morgan.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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