BlackBerry has long been synonymous with safety and mobile productivity. A situation that will not change with the Leap. This smartphone includes the fundamentals of the brand, with one exception: there is no keyboard. The latest BlackBerry physical keyboard to have confined these models to a fairly specific niche. By removing the main differentiating element of the brand, we are left with a 5 five-inch smartphone, 280 euros without subscription, with a low performance camera and limited by a mobile platform that is not able to compete with Android and iOS.
The Leap features a design that wants professional in appearance and function. No room for frills, just a five-inch screen edge to edge and the BlackBerry logo on the back. The textured back cover provides good grip. On the right side of the device, are the volume control buttons and the BlackBerry wizard. He calls the BlackBerry virtual assistant, the equivalent of Apple’s Siri, Google Now or Microsoft Cortana. The headphone jack and lock button are on top while a removable cover, placed on the left edge, hides the slots for the SIM card and micro SD memory card (up to 128GB).
The five-inch screen displays the Leap 1280 x 720 pixels. What today is a little low for this screen size but does not affect the display remains excellent. The colors are bright, faithful and constant regardless of the orientation of the screen. The smartphone is in itself quite bulky and weighs heavier than it looks (170 grams). However there is quite handy.
The lack of keyboard is one of the big differences BlackBerry Leap with other models of the brand. For Passport and Classic , Blackberry sacrificed the form and functionality to accommodate a keyboard. Because it is a key element of the BlackBerry system, although cram a keyboard is not easy in a world of screens of 5 inches and increasingly demanding applications in terms of surface display.
Yet has already released several BlackBerry models only have a touch screen. Unfortunately Leap does not really stand out. The fault lies primarily in the software part. Access to Android via the Amazon app store is probably one of the best options introduced with BlackBerry OS 10.3.1. This allows BlackBerry users to enjoy the content available on Android. But it is only a foretaste because the selection is very limited compared to what we find on Google Play. In addition, application compatibility is not guaranteed … Some, such as the game “Crossy Road”, we tried to start, do not work.
With BlackBerry World, the manufacturer offers its own application store. It is also possible to install an application directly if one has its APK file. For the rest, the BlackBerry OS 10 operating system works like Passport and Classic. Professional subject to strict security measures find there an answer to their needs. But the platforms such as Android and iOS offer more choice.
The virtual keyboard Leap is fast and accurate. It incorporates an excellent suggestion system that superimposes the words on the keyboard recommended. Then simply drag them to incorporate the text. But this type of keyboards begin to appear in the Android ecosystem, and more recently iOS.
The BlackBerry Hub gathers all messages received to facilitate their consultation. Convenient to see, at a glance, what happens. When it comes to meeting the individual applications are more effective. Especially if you are using a platform that is not compatible with this hub, as Google Hangouts.
The wizard BlackBerry is activated via a dedicated button. He answers questions, records calendar reminders and other useful things. Nothing new. We already know all this with Siri and Google Now Cortana. Now these three assistants go even further: Google Now will soon offer further contextual presence, Siri will control home automation applications and Cortana will be shortly available on a multitude of terminals
The BlackBerry Blend. serves as a command center. This application lets you access and control your BlackBerry from another terminal. You can check your messages, appointments, access files and sound corporate network without using a VPN. The Blend application is available on PC, Mac, Android and iOS.
Performance and autonomy
The Leap is equipped with a Qualcomm 8960 dual processor heart 1.5GHz with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage expandable via micro SD memory card. A configuration identical to that of the Classic BlackBerry that delivers similar performance. Navigation through the menus and launching applications are fluid and Leap has never been found wanting.
The 2800 mAh battery is not removable. Its autonomy is given to 17 hours talk time and 9:30 in video playback. BlackBerry says that “heavy users” have up to 25 hours of battery life. It is an ambitious claim, but you must know that BlackBerry OS10 is packed with features that optimize energy consumption. The extinction of the screen when it is not used, is thus quicker. It is also possible to program the activation of a “power save” mode when the battery charge drops below a certain threshold. The processor then automatically clamp, the screen brightness decreases and some functions are cut. A control monitor is used to display, in detail, the power consumption of applications and to identify the most energy-intensive.
As with all mobile, the Autonomy also depends largely on the use. During our continuous video playback test, we achieved ten hours with activated flight mode. After eight hours of non-stop voice calls, the battery level is still ranked slightly above 50%. In common use, with mixed use (photos, letters, maps, surfing, calls …), the battery easily held three days before emptying completely.
We tested the call quality. No complaints in this area: the sound quality is good. Our interlocutors hear us clearly. No loss problem either call. But of course, each user will have his own experience based on the network and place.
The Leap incorporates an eight-megapixel camera and a front camera of two megapixels. Neither is really impressive, with good lighting and subjects that do not move, we can get acceptable pictures. On simple scenes, the camera is doing very well. Like here in this photo taken indoors where the colors are faithful and well defined subject. The photo application tends to want to abuse the HDR mode, which gives saturated images. The shutter speed is not always fast enough to reduce blur.
The BlackBerry Leap like a business smartphone and operates as such. It integrates all the security options that are exclusive to the brand. But if the Canadian firm hopes to attract new users or reclaim the lost faithful, he will have to offer features that can compete with competing platforms. Success is not with go regarding applications, even with the support of the Amazon app store. With the lack of a physical keyboard, the Leap ignores a function which remains one of the brand’s strength. If no keyboard or leanness of the ecosystem may not hinder the potential user, there remains the question of price. The dated processor, the screen with his “weak” definition 720p and quality of all images are just ok not worth the asking price. Opposite, a Alcatel One Touch Idol 3 (250 euros) offers better performance, a 1080p screen and a more convincing camera. The Lumia 640 XL LTE offers a good camera, and even if Windows Phone does not propose plethora of applications, the price of 250 euro remains attractive.