The BlackBerry Leap is what BlackBerry is hoping you will want to upgrade from your Z10. The Leap is being touted as the phone that will let you write the story of your life. Is the BlackBerry Leap the phone to deliver that promise? Well, we hope to answer that question and many more in this review.
The BlackBerry Leap is being released at a time when BlackBerry is starting to become financially stable again. This is why I believe BlackBerry has decided to release the Leap. It seems to trust that the Leap will be a good phone to pair with their corporate sales and enterprise slots. This device is for productivity, entertainment and communication.
The BlackBerry Leap is the next step up in the line of BlackBerry Virtual Keyboard phones. If you’re using a Z10 and want to keep a non-physical keyboard in your phone inventory, the Leap is the only solution to keep you current, save for the Z30 which is getting a bit long in the tooth. Although the Leap is considered a replacement for the BlackBerry Z10, it is in all reality a beefier BlackBerry Z3.
The BlackBerry Leap is powered by a dual core Qualcomm MSM 8960 1.5 GHz processor, making this a quick phone for the price. The screen is a hefty 5” LED 1280x720 HD bright display.
RAM on the BlackBerry Leap stays at 2GB with 16GB Flash memory and expandable memory is available up to 128GB with an applicable SD card.
Where the BlackBerry Leap stands out is its battery life. A powerful 2800mAH non-removable battery powers the Leap. You will get more than a day of normal usage with the battery. I would average around 26 hours of normal use before charging the battery. On some days I would get about 14 with heavy usage.
Here are the specifications for the BlackBerry Leap:
- Size - Height 144 mm / 5.67 in, Width 72.8 mm / 2.87 in, Depth 9.5 mm / 0.37 in
- Weight - 170 g / 6.0 oz
- Navigation - All-touch screen, with intuitive gesture based navigation
- Keyboard - On screen BlackBerry® Keyboard (portrait/landscape), featuring contextual auto-correction, next-word prediction and a personalized learning engine that gets to know the way you type
- Dedicated keys - Volume Up/Down, Mute, Lock (for Power On/Off)
- Display - 294 PPI, 1280 x 720 resolution, 24-bit color depth, 5" diagonal, 16:9 aspect ratio
- Operating system - BlackBerry 10 OS
- Processor - Qualcomm Dual-Core MSM 8960 1.5 GHz
- Memory - 2 GB RAM 16 GB Flash
- Expandable memory - Expandable memory via hot swappable microSD memory card (Up to 128 GB)
- USB ports - Micro USB 2.0 high speed port—allows charging and data synchronization of the device with a USB cable
- Battery - 2800 mAH (minimum) non-removable Lithium Ion battery
- Rear camera - 8 megapixel auto-focus camera, Flash, continuous and touch to focus, Video image stabilization, 5x digital zoom, 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps, 2DOF video stabilization
- Front camera - 2 megapixel fixed-focus camera, 720p HD video recording, 3x digital zoom
- Voice input/output - Dual microphone for noise cancellation (receiver), Hands-free headset capable, Bluetooth® headset capable, Integrated hands-free speakerphone
- Network & connectivity - North America: FD-LTE: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 13, 17 (2100/1900/AWS/850/2600/700 MHz), HSPA+ 1, 2, 4, 5/6 (2100/1900/AWS/850 MHz), Dual Carrier 42 HSPA support, Quad Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 2, 3, 5, 8 (1900,1800,850,900 MHz) - Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific: FD-LTE: 1, 3, 7, 8, 20 (2100/1800/2600/900/800 MHz), HSPA+ 1, 2, 5/6, 8 (2100/1900/850/900 MHz), Dual Carrier 42 HSPA support, Quad Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 2, 3, 5, 8 (1900,1800,850,900 MHz)
- Wi-Fi - 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz, 4G Mobile Hotspot, Video out via Wi-Fi Display / Miracast
- FM Radio - FM Radio receive (headset as antenna)
- Bluetooth - Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE) and EDR
- GPS - Assisted, Autonomous and Simultaneous GPS, Preloaded with BlackBerry Maps application, Support for User Plane and Control Plane GPS
- Sensors - Accelerometer, Proximity, Ambient light
The BlackBerry Leap ships with BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.3.1.2576, which is a solid build for BlackBerry 10. The BlackBerry 10.3.1 OS gives the user the power of versatility with features such as the BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Blend and the inclusion of the Amazon App Store which allows the downloading and purchase of Android apps, greatly increasing the amount of available applications for your phone to work in tandem with BlackBerry World.
Another great feature of the BlackBerry OS is BlackBerry Assistant. I find myself using this more and more. It is the voice and text activated assistant that makes using the Leap stress free. I can access my contacts, mail, texts, music and so much more with this feature. It really has grown on me and I come to rely on it more and more every day.
In my opinion, the best part of the OS is BlackBerry Blend. With the inclusion of Blend, the Leap becomes more productive. Having the power of BlackBerry on your desktop is a difference maker. BBM friends and colleagues, move files from your work computer to your BlackBerry and vice versa, make easy additions to your calendar and the ability to get your messages from the BlackBerry Hub, makes the Leap a better phone.
Nuts, Bolts and Brass Tacks
The design of the Leap is thin and stylish. The 5” screen compliments the thin design and makes this an impressive looking phone. In comparison to its little sister, the Z3, the Leap is a bit larger in size with the width and length being the main differences. The weight of the Leap comes in at around 6 ounces, which is slightly heavier than the Z3 and over an ounce heavier than the Z10.
One disappointing aspect of the Leap, in my opinion, is the single speaker on the back. I understand the decision making to keep costs down and most people use headphones to listen to their music. but it would have been a nice touch to have dual speakers included.
The cameras on the Leap are average as cameras go. An 8MP camera on the back and a front facing 2MP camera are ok for a device such as the Leap is. You can record video at 1080P/30fps (frames per second) with the rear camera, 720P with the front. I found the video quality to be on par with other peer devices but not overwhelmingly spectacular.
The BlackBerry Leap is indeed a step up from the BlackBerry Z3 because of the inclusion of the 4G LTE chipset. Browsing the Internet was a pleasant experience because of the 4G LTE when I was away from WiFi connections.
The calls I made on the Leap were clean and clear and high quality. The earpiece speaker and microphone were surprisingly robust, even in very windy conditions such as you get outside in early springtime. I was very impressed that the phone sounded as good as it did. Kudos to the noise cancelling microphone placement on the device.
Keeping in mind that the BlackBerry Leap is meant to be the next in the line of virtual keyboard smartphones, the price point for the Leap will be US $275, which is a good price for such a device. This price point doesn’t break the bank. It makes this a very cost effective choice to have the BlackBerry Leap as a phone for your family members, possibly the teen that is rough on phones.
BlackBerry is also marketing the Leap as the phone to help master your productivity, helping to harness the power to succeed. I can see where BlackBerry is going with this. Security is tantamount to BlackBerry and it means so much to the business professional as well. It always has been and it always will be. The Leap will flourish with companies that need the data security that BlackBerry offers, especially with BES 12.
In that vein, the Leap’s price along with discounts and corporate incentives for bulk purchase makes the BlackBerry Leap a very attractive Enterprise device. You don’t fret as much for example, when a Leap gets dropped, as compared to when an iPhone 6 hits the tarmac. It’s almost like the Dorito’s commercial, “Crunch all you want. We’ll make more.” The Leap is an overhead friendly device.
Now down to my overall thoughts about the BlackBerry Leap. Is it a giant killer? No. Is it even a contender to the Z30 throne? No. Do I wish BlackBerry had made it more powerful? Of course I do. The BlackBerry Leap doesn’t even come close to the BlackBerry Passport.
Then again, it’s not supposed to.
The BlackBerry Leap is really a phone on it's own. It's a simple, secure, inexpensive gap filling phone.
The Leap’s purpose seems to fall into filling a void for BlackBerry and the users who love a virtual keyboard and don’t feel comfortable typing on a physical keyboard like the Q5, Q10, Passport or Classic. The Leap replaces the EOL’ed (End Of Life) devices like the Z10 and the Z30. If I had one wish for the Leap, I wish that BlackBerry would have beefed up the processor.
Think of the Leap as a step forward for the consumer and a step up for the Enterprise customer. As a consumer, I would definitely purchase this phone. You get a great deal of power and style for the price. It is slim and attractive. It is quick and provides 4G LTE speed. The battery life is outstanding for its class and you will enjoy the power and sustainability the Leap’s battery provides.
Trust me on this.
As for the Enterprise customer, this is a no brainer purchase. You want the security, quality and reliability that BlackBerry is known for. You rely on their expertise and ability to deliver what they promise day, after day, after day.
The Leap is the new face of Enterprise productivity because it is affordable. Add to all of that the feature of BlackBerry Balance, which allows you to split your BlackBerry smartphone into work and personal devices. It will be a hit for Enterprise and people who need productivity on a budget.
If I were to use a sports analogy to sum up the BlackBerry Leap, I would describe it as such:
“BlackBerry has stretched a sure double into a triple.”
I didn’t think I would like it because it’s not as personable as the Z30 or a work of art like the Passport is.
I was mistaken.
The Leap grows on you. It won’t make the top 10 of all time phones for the consumer for overall flash and glamour. However, it will make you smile and give you a great phone with great features for the price.
And that’s when you realize why you’re smiling.