Blackberry is probably the first smartphone brand that became synonymous with secure mobile solutions over the past few years. While it was once a market leader, today it struggles to match up to the likes of Apple and the countless Android based handsets today. With me, I have the Blackberry Leap which is BlackBerry’s latest attempt to grab a share of the mid-range smartphone market- on that is currently dominated by Android Phones.
The Blackberry Leap as the name suggests, is directly focused for the younger crowd that wants to get things going. I loved the soft rubber enclosure that surrounds all the corners and sides of the device and helps from accidentally slipping from your hands. It’s a different approach from most other companies that prefer to use plastic or steel frames nowadays with a glass finish.
The rear is a simple textured surface that provides a further holding grip. The traditional Blackberry logo is stamped in the middle of the rear surface, and a speaker grill is seen on the bottom left.
The BlackBerry Leap has a thickness of 9.5mm and weighs 170g. The Micro USB port is conveniently placed on the bottom of the device. However, the power/wake up button is placed on the top which could prove inconvenient to reach. Then again, the swipe to wake up feature on BlackBerry 10 is always present in case you don’t want to use the power button. The volume rockers are placed on the upper right side of the Leap. In between the volume rockers lies a mute button which could also be used to trigger the Blackberry Assistant voice service.
The buttons are small and flat, so the feedback isn’t that great when pressed. You could easily get confused as to which is the mute button, and the volume buttons. Blackberry has placed the MicroSIM and the MicroSD card slot on the left side, protected by a cap that’s easily removable. The overall feel of the Blackberry Leap feels very youthful and sporty.
The Blackberry Leap is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus processor and paired with 2GB RAM. On paper, this two year old mobile processor might appear to be an antique but Blackberry OS 10.3.1 runs surprisingly fast on it which goes on to show that with you don’t necessarily need a high end octa-core processor. Good optimisation of software goes a long way.
I was able to scroll through the app menus, the list of running apps, and flick through my mails and messages using the Blackberry Hub with barely any lag. The only two areas where the device struggles with is gaming performance, and the Blackberry Assistant voice search recognition can can take almost half a minute to understand what you ask- something Apple Siri and Google Now does in seconds.
The Blackberry Leap holds a 5-inch display with 720p resolution and a bright 294ppi density. App icons and texts appeared sharp with no sign of oversaturated colors. The BlackBerry Leap offers really good outdoor visibility, even when the screen brightness set at 50%. Viewing angles fared well too. While the device has a big 5-inch screen, I had a very comfortable typing experience using the Blackberry onscreen keyboard, and with no noticeable strain on my thumbs or fingers.
The Leap’s optics package consists of an 8MP main camera with support of an LED flash and a 2MP selfie snapper on the front. While the main 8MP camera was able to produce some good results, the autofocus speed of the camera is quite slow. The camera app suggests to activate the HDR mode when shooting a bright scene, or to activate the time – shift mode if multiple faces are detected. Indoor shots are good with less grains unless you zoom into the image. The 2MP selfie camera also supports HDR shooting and does a decent job.
Blackberry devices have a good reputation for battery life, and the Leap continues that tradition. With minimum basic operations such as BBM and web browsing, the Leap lasted over five days. Extensive use such as downloading apps, watching YouTube, voice calls, and reading mails through the Blackberry Hub lasted the Leap for almost two good days- all thanks to the Leap’s 2800 mAh battery.
Overall, I liked the Blackberry Leap for its simplicity in design and functionality. The battery performance is the best thing I liked about it- something that Android smartphones suffer from. A true leap for those who want to try out a Blackberry or jump from the older generation Blackberry devices.
+ Good outdoor visibility
+ Nice build quality
+ Long lasting battery
+ Snappy performance
- Odd power button position
- Blackberry Assistant is slow