The BlackBerry leap is one of the most recent devices in the market from BlackBerry, which is a product that was made in collaboration with Foxconn. This new device, though with a much cheaper retail pricing that that of their previous all-touch device, the BlackBerry Z30, still offers much of all that you might want from a smartphone. Prior to using the Leap, I have been using an unlocked BlackBerry Z30. The BlackBerry Z30 is slightly smaller than the Leap and smoother rounder corner, however, each device has its own appeal. Whilst the BlackBerry Z30 feels a bit more solid than the BlackBerry Leap, it is surprisingly how the leap can take a drop and hardly any visible scratches.
In the box: You will get the device, along with a 1300mAh charger with a microUSB sync/charging cable, plus the cheaper version of their headphone. The model I am reviewing today is the same model as the one sold in ShopBlackBerry – the unlocked GSM in North America. I will be using the device on the T-Mobile network which picks up LTE in two different bands.
Form Factor: The BlackBerry Leap has a rubberized back that blends into the a bezel where you would normally see a chrome bezel and you have a unified color. The Leap proudly displays a 5” Corning Gorilla Glass V3. This would place the device in the mid range of devices. The form factor feels perfectly in my hands. If you have been using any of the BlackBerry Z-series (Z30, Z10, Z3) the design makes it for a smooth transition.
Keys/Exterior/Ports: The major difference that I see when switching from a BlackBerry Z30 is the slots for the media card and SIM card located on the right hand side that are hot-swappable (can be switched on the fly) without having to struggle to open a back cover. This also mean that you can easily swap memory cards or the SIM more user friendly.
On the top, that is where the power button is located similar to older devices. Another part that I like is that the leaps up/down and pause keys are not as easy to push like the Z30. Meaning that the chances of accidentally pause or un-pause music or mute a call is much lower.
The charging port has been moved to the bottom side of the device, and the headphone port is at the top along with the power button that locks the devices when pressed once, or turns the menu to turn the device off or restart. The device features two speakers one for noise cancelling and another on the back side for using a speaker phone.
Network band support: The BlackBerry leap model I am reviewing is the STR 100-2 which offers more LTE bands than previous devices it picks up band 2 on T-Mobile which is the network I use. LTE bands include 1,2,4,5,7,13,17 only missing 12 for T-Mobile. This means you get better fast speed access in more places. UMTS include band 1, 2, 4,5, 6.
Camera: The camera features a 8MP on the back and a 2 MP on the front. The auto focus is a nice improvement from that of the Z30 which though is similar I have notice that pictures simply look better and takes less time to (focus) take a pictures. The convenience keys on the side +/- and pause buttons can also assist with taking pictures. Taking pictures with the leap is much better than those taken with the Z30 since I have realized that the BlackBerry Z30 focus is not that good.
Battery: Battery life is one of the things that power hungry devices go through in a few hours, I am a heavy user and the I am happy to say that the BlackBerry Leap is comparable to that of the Z30. It has easily last me a full day use, with normal use and usually I have have to charge it once with heavy use.
Missing: The one thing that is missing from the leap is the microHDMI output that was on previous devices like the Z30 and Z10. But then again that is something I can do without since is not something I am constantly using, I didn’t even notice it wasn’t there until I started to compare it for this review. However, some of you, whom do rely on this might want to take note of it!
OS: Most of you are familiar by now with BB10 OS, and the latest version 10.3.2 runs android apps smoothly with a a few exceptions that require Google Play to work. Another plus is that Amazon App store is officially supported by BlackBerry so you can get just about any app that you can find on their store. The OS itself has seen quite a bit of improvements with the latest release, which I’ve yet to see an official release in the US.
Accessories: The leap has a cool set of accessories that includes a Sync pod, and a Flex Shell
- The Flex Shell comes in three different colors, military green, black, and storm blue. The shell case has a stand that allows you to stand the device horizontally or vertically and it is NFC friendly as well. Retail price is USD$29.99 through ShopBlackBerry
- The Sync pod includes a detachable nest contoured to fit the leap tight on its place. The retail price is USD$29.99 through ShopBlackBerry
Final thoughts: The pros with this device is that it is well priced, offers what most would want on a smartphone. The device feels good on your hands, well designed, and also has more LTE bands than previous BlackBerry devices. The one con that I found is that with T-Mobile the device loses signal much faster than the Z30 inside buildings.