BlackBerry, the company formerly known as RIM, debuted its flagship device for its new BlackBerry 10 operating system on Wednesday, called the BlackBerry Z10. Unlike the BlackBerry models of old, the Z10 is an all-touch device: There’s no physical keyboard and no physical navigation controls (i.e. buttons). The BlackBerry Z10, which truly reimagines what a smartphone can do and be, is clearly meant to be symbolic of RIM’s transformation and rebirth as BlackBerry.
The BlackBerry 10 operating system is all-new, so iPhone users that have been accustomed to the iOS platform since 2007 might be a bit wary, but by all accounts, BlackBerry 10 has garnered some strong responses, particularly for its most important functions for enterprise, like typing and handling third-party applications.
The BlackBerry Z10 lacks some important cloud-based features that Apple and Google have (iCloud and Google Drive, respectively), but the BlackBerry 10 experience in the Z10 device still has a lot going for it.
Even though the BlackBerry Z10 won’t release until March, many people still want to know how BlackBerry’s newest offerings stack up to some of the best in the business. While there are many great smartphones out there, many consider the iPhone 5 to be a great benchmark, as its interface and operating system is highly polished, and its design, specs and features are also very high quality.
To grade the BlackBerry Z10 before its release date, we’ve stacked up its various features against the iPhone 5, to give consumers an idea of whether or not this phone is worth consideration. Here’s what we came up with:
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iPhone 5 Vs. BlackBerry Z10: The Basics
The iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10 both have the same $199 starting price, and both phones run on the high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks, which means extremely fast upload and download times. Unfortunately, the BlackBerry Z10 doesn’t have any other storage options besides 16 GB, but it can be expanded by up to 32 more gigabytes with a removable card, which the iPhone 5 doesn’t have.
As far as processors go, the iPhone 5 is powered by Apple’s A6 system-on-a-chip solution, which is a dual-core processor that can clock 1.3 GHz; in comparison, the BlackBerry Z10 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest S4 chipset, also known as “Snapdragon,” which is a dual-core processor that clocks 1.5 GHz.
But while AT&T and Verizon Wireless will sell both smartphones from Apple and BlackBerry, Sprint will not be a carrier for the BlackBerry Z10. T-Mobile customers, however, will be able to enjoy BlackBerry’s latest offering, which is a nice deal since those customers have yet to get the iPhone.
iPhone 5 Vs. BlackBerry Z10: Appearance, Size and Design
Both the iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10 are beautiful smartphones. The BlackBerry Z10 has slightly larger dimensions than the iPhone 5 across the board (4.87” x 2.31” x 0.30” for the iPhone 5 vs. 5.12” x 2.58” x 0.35” for the Z10), but the BlackBerry Z10 is nowhere as large as some other Android smartphones out there, including Samsung’s best, known as the Galaxy Note 2. Still, the iPhone 5’s smaller dimensions also give it a lighter weight than the BlackBerry Z10: The iPhone 5 weighs just 3.95 oz, while the BlackBerry Z10 weighs 4.78 oz.
While preferences for smartphone size vary from person to person, most people will agree that they prefer a thinner and lighter smartphone, which gives Apple the slight advantage here.
Advantage: iPhone 5
iPhone 5 Vs. BlackBerry Z10: The Camera
The iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10 both have two cameras on the front and rear sides. While both smartphones carry an equivalent 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording, the BlackBerry Z10’s front side camera has a slightly improved 2-megapixel camera, compared to Apple’s 1.2-megapixel camera.
Even though we can’t do a comparison of photos between these two phones, it’s possible that Apple’s rear side camera is more accurate than that of the BlackBerry Z10, considering how the camera features better specs and lenses for low-light settings and color accuracy. But while a comparison of the rear side cameras is currently impossible, the front-side camera of the BlackBerry Z10 is certainly a step up from the 720p HD quality video and 1.2-megapixel stills the iPhone 5 can take.
And as far as special features goes, BlackBerry 10 has iPhone 5 and iOS 6 beat. A BlackBerry exclusive feature called TimeShift allows users to adjust individual faces within a group shot to get different views of them by capturing multiple views of them before and after the snapshot is taken. Therefore, if someone tries frowning at the last second to ruin your photo, you can simply scroll back and replace that individual’s face with a different shot, taken either seconds before or after the shot was taken.
Advantage: BlackBerry Z10
iPhone 5 Vs. BlackBerry Z10: The Battery
On paper, the BlackBerry Z10 has a better battery life, even though its capacity is currently unknown. BlackBerry says the Z10 can accomplish 10 hours of 3G talk time and 305 hours of standby time, compared to eight hours of talk time and 225 hours of standby time on the iPhone 5.
However, in early reports anyway, some critics have said the BlackBerry Z10 battery did not last as long as they’d hoped. AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg spent more than a week with the Z10, and found the battery life of his phone wasn’t exactly as advertised.
“I didn’t do a formal battery test, but in my moderate to heavy use of the phone, I found it didn’t last as long on a charge as the iPhone 5, and began to get pretty low by late afternoon,” Mossberg said. “It would last some people an entire day, but not everyone.”
Advantage: BlackBerry Z10
iPhone 5 Vs. BlackBerry Z10: The Interface And Ecosystem
Operating systems are all different, and experiences are completely subjective. That said, Apple has a tried and true mobile operating system called iOS, while BlackBerry Z10 is introducing a completely new operating system – BlackBerry 10 – that heavily relies on swiping and gestures to navigate the phone.
On the iPhone 5, apps are laid out simply on your home screen, and users can swipe from screen to screen to access different apps, which can also be organized into folders. With BlackBerry 10 on the Z10, users unlock the phone by swiping up from the bottom border, which will show the last screen you were on; to get “home,” just swipe up from the bottom again. The “home” screen shows various minimized versions of one’s running applications – up to 8 at once – which are called “Action Frames.” From there, swiping to the left takes you through various screens of applications (like iOS or Android), while swiping from the bottom will minimize any open app into an Active Frame.
“I found these gestures easy to use and remember,” Mossberg said.
When you swipe to the right, you’ll reach the BlackBerry Hub, which contains emails from all the various accounts you’ve set up on your phone, as well as text messages, BBM messages, as well as social network updates from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. And even though the Hub doesn’t indicate separate emails from separate accounts with icons, users can simply swipe right within the Hub to see their individual accounts to view their specific contents.
While BlackBerry 10 seems very intuitive and particularly useful for business and enterprise customers, there are many questions left about BlackBerry 10’s fledgling ecosystem. BlackBerry says it will have roughly 70,000 apps available at launch, with more promised to release shortly thereafter, but 70,000 is small fries compared to Apple and its iOS App Store, which is quickly approaching 800,000 applications. Even Android has more than 700,000 apps. BlackBerry’s marketplace, also known as “BlackBerry World,” will feature some of the most popular apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Netflix and Angry Birds, but the richness of the ecosystem is completely dependent on the number of participants, and for now, BlackBerry just isn’t quite there.
The interface and ecosystem in BlackBerry 10 is still largely untested, but it looks mighty promising.
Advantage: iPhone 5
iPhone 5 Vs. BlackBerry Z10: The Verdict
The BlackBerry Z10 is a bold device from a company seeking to reinvent itself. Without any physical buttons, the Z10 is taking a big leap, assuming that customers want more screen space for gestures, movies, reading, productivity or creativity.
BlackBerry Z10 does a lot right: Its screen actually has a higher pixel density than the Retina display on the iPhone 5 (Z10 comes with a 4.2-inch 1280 x 768 display, compared to the 1136 x 640 display on the 4-inch iPhone 5), it’s fantastic at taking photos, and it lasts all day (for the most part).
There aren’t many drawbacks to the BlackBerry Z10, save for the inability to connect to a central cloud service, and the fact that many controls require too many steps – something BlackBerry says it’s working on to make quicker. The BlackBerry Z10 hasn’t come up short, particularly when you rundown its features and specs; however, the device is still largely unknown.
There’s no way to know how great the BlackBerry Z10 is unless it’s actually tested in full force. It needs to be put through the rigor of a solid work week: Consumers want to see how adept it is at multi-tasking, at displaying and composing emails, and at quick navigation, particularly in trying to take a photo from the off position. Many of these unknowns we know about the iPhone 5, and there’s a reason people use this particular phone as a benchmark: It’s an excellent, polished device.
For now, Apple and the iPhone 5 will win this particular comparison of features and specs, but only because the interface and operating system of the iPhone 5 is so strong, and so beloved. Simplicity, particularly with using smartphones, is at a premium, and while BlackBerry 10 is smooth and silky, there are clearly some kinks that need to be worked out to ensure navigation is quicker and easier. Still, this is an extremely impressive showing from BlackBerry, and we’re very much looking forward to this phone’s release date to test these two phones against each other. The iPhone 5 may still be the best smartphone available today, but the future is certainly bright for BlackBerry.