RIM, the maker of the iconic Blackberry, has been struggling for years to make a comeback into the market. After defining the world of smartphones, the market share of the Blackberry plummeted. Consumers voted with their feet, choosing the modern iOS and then Android, over the quaint operating system that RIM loaded on its devices.
RIM wants to change everything with BB10 and the new phones that run it. The Canadian company announced two devices today, an entry-level model with the traditional Blackberry keyboard that some people still love, and the Z10, a high-end full touchscreen smartphone.
How does the new Blackberry Z10 fare against the best that Android has to offer? Let’s compare them!
Design and build
Let’s say that the designers of the Z10 paid homage to the work of Sir Jonathan Ive… The Blackberry Z10 resembles the iPhone 5 closely, having similar rounded corners and a similar design language in general. That’s not to say the Z10 is ugly; on the contrary, I find it quite appealing, with a sharp industrial look to it.
I haven’t had the chance to handle a Z10, but from the many videos that leaked, I can say that the device is solid. And it’s relatively thin and light, weighing in at just 135 grams.
In the other corner, we have devices like the Nexus 4, Galaxy S3, Xperia Z, and HTC Droid DNA/Butterfly. Each of these devices has unique designs, ranging from the glossy shell of the Galaxy to the smooth glass-faces of the Xperia Z and the Nexus 4.
Design is inherently subjective, but one thing that the Z10 has going for it is the compact build. On the other hand, Android delivers something for every taste.
The display on the Z10 is a smallish 4.2-inch LCD of 1280 × 720 resolution. At 4.2-inch, an HD display offers a 356ppi resolution, which is far from the records set by Android devices like the Xperia Z or the Droid DNA, at 441ppi.
However, consumers have made it clear that they like bigger screens, even moving into phablet territory. About the ppi race, that’s mostly for marketing, but still, the Galaxy S4 and the HTC M7, both expected soon, will leave the Z10 in the dust.
Android flagship devices have always excelled when it comes to raw specs. Hell, we are talking octo-cores, and quad-cores CPUs are the current baseline. How does the Blackberry Z10 fare?
The Z10 will come with a dual-core OMAP4470 processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Nothing to write home about really, but probably adequate for the job. Other highlights include a microSD card slot, NFC, and a removable 1,800mAh battery.
Your mileage may vary, but with these specs, the Z10 would qualify as a good mid-ranger in the Android world.
Devices like the Xperia Z and the Galaxy S4 are pushing the specs boundaries, so we will hand this round to the Android camp.
A few shots snapped with the Blackberry Z10 have leaked, and from the looks of it, we can tell that the camera is… decent. How else could you call, in this day and age, an 8MP camera, with autofocus and 1080p HD video recording?
Meanwhile, Android’s finest are moving happily to 13MP sensors, and features like HDR video, HDR photos, ultra slow motion, and others. We’ll wait for some comparisons to emerge, but from the looks of it, it’s not looking pretty for the Z10.
Software and apps
The most important aspect of any device, the software and apps are defining for the user experience. The Z10 comes with the long-awaited Blackberry 10, a brand new operating system that RIM developed based on the QNX OS it acquired in 2010. The Z10 comes with some interesting features, such as the new smart keyboard, the built-in unified messaging center, or the ability to run multiple user profiles. The design seems well polished, and we liked the new swipe-based interface. More about some of the features we liked at BB10 here.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is definitely on par or better with BB10, in most areas, save perhaps for the security and enterprise-focused features. We love the multiple options that you get with Android, thanks to overlays, themes, launchers, custom ROMs, and more. Overall, we feel that Android is much more flexible and powerful than BB10, although it does require some work to customize just the way you like it.
Apps make or break a platform, and RIM knows that. The company effectively bribed developers to create apps for the new BB10, and their efforts paid off to some extent. The Canadians promised 70,000 apps available in store (Blackberry World) by launch, with many of the crucial apps, like Facebook or Foursquare already there. Nevertheless, 70,000 is a far cry from the 700,000+ apps available in the Play Store, so before jumping on the RIM bandwagon, you better check that your favorite apps are on board.
RIM has just unveiled the new Blackberry World, which now sells movies and music, in addition to apps and themes. RIM realized that they couldn’t compete without a media storefront, so they whipped something up. I haven’t compared the offers of BB World and Google’s Play Store yet, but I have a feeling that Google has a clear advantage here.
The Blackberry Z10 is a nice phone, but that’s about it. Android already offers some superior alternatives, and with the upcoming HTC M7 and Galaxy S4, the lead is bound to extend even more.
Blackberry 10 has its strong suits, especially in the area that define RIM as a company, enterprise, but for the vast majority of consumers, I fail to see a killer feature. Android is just bigger and better in almost every area.
The biggest appeal of the Blackberry Z10? For me, it’s the novelty and the fresh look of the operating system. The design is nice, but if I were to buy phones based on that, I wouldn’t be writing for Android Authority.
To wrap up, RIM has made a good first effort with the Blackberry Z10, and for the sake of competition, I hope they manage to turn the ship around. But for me, Android is still king.