BlackBerry Leap review
Delighting personal and professional users
In my BlackBerry Leap review I take a look at the next big thing from BlackBerry, an all-touch smartphone for both personal and professional users.
The BlackBerry Leap follows on in the style of the BlackBerry Passport but with a more affordable pricing that is on a par with the BlackBerry Classic, which is its sister phone with a physical keyboard.
Read my BlackBerry Classic review
The large 5” HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels delivers a vivid viewing experience and is the visual platform for multiple home screens onto which you can pin your apps.
You don’t get widgets like those seen on Android phones but you can minimize apps and these sit on the main screen and show the most important information. For example the weather app displays today’s forecast while the Facebook app shows the last five posts from your friends in rotation.
The 16GB internal memory has support for memory cards up to the value of 128GB and to keep costs low the quad-core processor of the Passport has been reduced to a dual core 1.5GHz processor with 2GB RAM.
Read my BlackBerry Passport review
The design of the BlackBerry Leap sees sharp corners and lines on the front while the sides curve gently into the underside. At 9.5mm thick and weighing 170 grams this smartphone fits securely in the palm of the hand.
Phone Set Up
There is plenty of new things to set up and discover if you haven’t used a BlackBerry phone or the BlackBerry 10 OS before. You can jump straight in but there is a setup feature and help tutorials with plenty of tips and tricks.
The BlackBerry Hub is the home of all of your messages, calls, emails and social updates so you will need to swipe from left to right to see these and add you account logins. Pre-installed Malware protection with back-up, wipe and restore allows you to get online straight away.
Your first port of call may well be to one of the app stores to download your favourite apps. The BlackBerry Leap has a bit of an unusual process for this with access to BlackBerry World for made-for-BlackBerry apps and the Amazon App Store for Android based apps. However you won’t find every Android app on Amazon but if you visit 1Mobile.com then those that you cannot find will be available there.
When you connect your BlackBerry Leap to your computer for the first time BlackBerry Blend will install itself. This software lets you see, use and respond to all of your messages, email, documents, calendar events, contacts and media in real-time on your computer, keeping the two always in sync.
There are plenty of BlackBerry features to discover and these include the BlackBerry Assistant who responds to both voice and text commands. You can use the assistant to open apps, create reminders, make online searches and respond to messages.
There is also the new BlackBerry Keyboard which pops up on the touchscreen and this uses next word suggestions and auto-correction to provide a great typing experience. The keyboard has a learning engine element to it so over time it will learn the words you use most giving the next word prediction a superior edge.
The BlackBerry 10 browser can handle unlimited browser tabs and the Reader removes all of the clutter and advertisements from a web page when you just want to read the story. Web browsing takes place over Wi-Fi or 4G and you can even create a 4G Mobile Hotspot to get other devices online.
Further features include BBM Video for face-to-face video chat, BBM Meetings (subscription based feature) for scheduling, hosting and participating in meetings and GPS navigation with free BlackBerry Maps.
Camera & Video
The 8MP camera with continuous focus captures special moments in perfect clarity and there is a 5x digital zoom and a whole host of settings should you want manual control over the results.
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1080p video recording is possible and any shake is countered with video image stabilisation. Story Maker and Picture Editor are included and there is a 2MP selfie camera that can itself record 720p video or zoom in for a close up.
The high capacity 2,800mAh battery performs well with the help of the BlackBerry 10 OS which is optimised for minimal power consumption. Even under a heavy usage scenario 25 hours of usage should be possible. Otherwise you can expect to have up to 12 hours of talk time, 15 days standby, 80 hours of music playback or 9.5 hours of video playback.
BlackBerry Leap verdict: The BlackBerry Leap is the mid-range offering from BlackBerry and you very much get to enjoy the Passport experience but at a fraction of the cost.
Written by: Michael Brown