BlackBerry Leap Review – A solid, productivity tool with no keyboard

You may not be able to buy it from T-Mobile, but the BlackBerry Leap might be worth your consideration if you’re one of the few people who actually likes BB OS10 on an all-touch device. It’s compatible with T-Mo’s band 2 and 4 LTE networks and you can buy it unlocked from ShopBlackBerry.com for $275 in dark grey or white. I’ve reviewed it for PhoneDog, and you can see that review in the video embedded above.

Key Specs include:

  • All-touch keyboard
  • Battery life: up to 17 hours talk time (UMTS)
  • 5″ diagonal display, 1280 X 720 HD Resolution, 294 dpi
  • Ultimate privacy and security to protect your workspace and personal data
  • 8MP, auto-focus rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • 2 MP, front-facing camera, 720p HD video recording
  • 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage (expandable up to 128GB via Micro SD)
  • LTE Bands: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 13, 17
  • HSPA+ Bands: 1, 2, 4, 5/6

To save myself from writing the entire review script again I’ll point you in the direction of the PhoneDog review page. But I still wanted to bring you my thoughts in a summarized form.

The Good

  • Battery life is awesome. Regularly got 2 days on a full charge with moderate use. Even heavy users would struggle to use it up in a day.
  • Screen has good qualities, including accurate colors, good levels of contrast and brightness.
  • Camera results are good, and there are plenty of options in the camera to tweak your images.
  • Solid build quality and grippy feel on the back make this a true workhorse.
  • Reliable wireless performance on cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

The Bad

  • Despite being generally quite solid, the design isn’t exactly premium. It’s plastic and rubbery, not for the aesthetically picky.
  • Game loading times can be a long wait.
  • Camera is slow to focus, and doesn’t like close-up shots at all.
  • For those who haven’t used it before, the software can be a little confusing
  • Lack of apps on BlackBerry is still a problem despite the addition of the Amazon Appstore. Even if you manage to install Android apps another way, you’ll still have a hard time without Google Play Services.

Take-away

I’ve always liked BlackBerry 10’s user interface. Although it can take a little while to get used to the gestures, once you’ve got it, it feels faster, more intuitive and productive than anything else. At least, it does to me. It reminded me a lot of using the Z10 and is hard to fault as a work and communication tool. But it’s still hard to see exactly who’s going to buy this.

There are better-specced phones like the OnePlus One and Idol 3 on Android, at a similar price. In fact, the Idol 3 – which we reviewed recently – costs less and has support for T-Mobile’s band 12 LTE network which the Leap doesn’t. And tit’s Android, which means a ton more apps and features for the regular consumer.

If the Leap had a better screen and camera, and maybe looked prettier, I’d love it. But it doesn’t, so I don’t. If I was buying a BlackBerry today, I’d at least go for one with a keyboard like the BlackBerry Classic. For a sub-$300 phone, there are better options out there. But if you’re dead-set on getting an all-touch productivity tool and don’t care for games and apps so much, the Leap is a surprisingly solid offering.

 

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