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9/18/2013
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BlackBerry Debuts Z30 Phablet

Despite the dismal state of its business, BlackBerry announced the Z30, a smartphone with a 5-inch screen that runs BlackBerry's newest OS.

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BlackBerry Wednesday revealed the Z30, a new smartphone running the latest version of its mobile operating system. The Z30 is notable for its large display, the biggest ever on a BlackBerry. The Super AMOLED screen measures 5 inches and includes 1280 x 720 pixels, putting it in the same league as today's leading smartphones. The Z10, which BlackBerry launched earlier this year, has a 4.2-inch screen.

The Z10 is powered by a dual-core 1.7-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. The engine is paired with a QuadCore Adreno 320 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. Storage is limited to 16 GB on the device itself, but it supports expandable storage via microSD cards. The Z30 works with a number of LTE networks around the world and offers dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.

BlackBerry calls attention to the Z30's camera. The 8-megapixel, back-side illuminated sensor is fitted with a 5-element f/2.2 lens, flash, image stabilization, and what BlackBerry calls high-resolution digital zoom. The main imager is accompanied by a 2-megapixel user-facing camera that also has image and video stabilization. It can record 720p HD video.

[ How did the once-mighty BlackBerry fall? Read BlackBerry's Collapse: 5 Key Mistakes. ]

Other features of the Z30 include a large 2,880mAh battery, various sensors, dedicated hardware buttons, and a standard set of ports and jacks. BlackBerry says the battery provides the Z30 with 16 days of standby time, 18 hours of talk time, 90 hours of music playback or 12 hours of video playback.

As with all smartphones, the hardware is only half the story. The Z30 is the first BlackBerry to run BlackBerry OS 10.2. The small update to the operating system adds several new features to the Z30, including one that BlackBerry calls "Priority Hub." With this feature enabled, the Z30 will learn to prioritize the emails, BBMs, text messages, and social media messages of your favorite or most-contacted people.

The Z30 also offers improvements to BlackBerry Messenger. It uses what BlackBerry calls "BlackBerry Natural Sound" to enhance the audio quality of BBM voice and video chats and give voices a more nuanced sound. Incoming BBM messages now provide previews that pop up no matter what app the owner might be using. The notification can be dismissed or used to open the BBM app to respond.

The Z30 will reach the U.K. and select Middle Eastern markets as soon as next week, and BlackBerry said it will debut in other markets later in the year. BlackBerry made no mention of U.S. carriers, nor have the carriers themselves spoken up in support of the device.

Current BlackBerry 10 devices owners can expect to see BlackBerry OS 10.2 reach their phones next month.

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