BlackBerry Z10 full review

BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry is back with its new operating system, BlackBerry 10 and a new flagship smartphone, the BlackBerry Z10. Updated on 05/02/13.

BlackBerry has taken aim at the iPhone, Android device and Windows Phone 8 handsets with the fully touchscreen Z10. There's a lot riding on this smartphone for the Canadian firm along with the Q10 which is a version featuring the classis BlackBerry Qwerty keyboard. See also: BlackBerry 10 Price in UK: Q10 & Z10

BlackBerry Z10: Design

The Z10 is BlackBerry's first fully touchscreen smartphone - it has no physical keys or buttons for navigation. Great news for anyone who, like me, could never get on with the tiny keys of the iconic physical Qwerty keyboard associated with BlackBerrys. It means that BlackBerry has made a phone which is in direct competition with the iPhone, Android devices and Windows Phone handsets.

The overall design of the Z10 is clean and simple; it closely resembles the iPhone 5 with straight edges and rounded corners. The front looks almost exactly like the back of the iPhone 5 but with a screen while the rear looks like a plastic version of the iPhone.

BlackBerry Z10 vs iPhone 5

The Z10's rear cover is slightly rounded at the edges making it more forgiving and comfortable in the hand than the iPhone. The rubbery texture made up of tiny dimples is very similar to that of the Nexus 7.

Unlike other smartphones on the market there are no physical, or even touch sensitive, buttons on the front of the Z10. All navigation is done with gestures on the touchscreen. There is a power button on top, while volume and mute buttons reside on the right hand side.

It's slightly bigger in size at 66x130mm and we measured the Z10 at a pretty slim 9.2mm. The handset is nice and light at 135g.

The Z10 really is the BlackBerry iPhone. It comes in black or white colours.

BlackBerry Z10: Build quality

For a phone that will cost you from around £36 per month on a contract we're not overly impressed by the build quality of the Z10. With a predominantly plastic chassis the phone just has a distinctly cheap feel. We don't like the fact the rear cover is thin and flimsy, even if it does save a few grams of weight.

Furthermore, if you give the Z10 a light tap numerous internal parts give a rattling sound which doesn't exactly shout 'fine engineering'.

This would be something understandable for a budget Android smartphone but we're dealing with BlackBerry's flagship model which has to compete with the best models on the market.

The Z10 lacks the premium feel which a flagship device simply has to deliver.

BlackBerry Z10 rear cover

BlackBerry Z10: Hardware and performance

BlackBerry has opted for a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM for the Z10's engine room. The dual-core chip might sound very mid-range since most top end smartphones have a quad-core processor plus there are 8-core chips on the horizon.

We don't see this as a problem, though, as long as it can cope with what is thrown at it then all is well. In our time with Z10 this does seem to be the case. The BlackBerry 10 operating system is nippy and shows no signs of lag. We'll talk more about the OS in the software section.

Browsing the web is particularly speedy, as BlackBerry said it would be. The relatively slow result of 1710ms in the SunSpider JavaScript test doesn't reflect the browser's performance. It wasn’t flawless though as we experienced some glitchy grey areas when double tapping to zoom on the PC Advisor website.

There's no obvious support for Flash - as default it's turned off in the settings with no indication it's there at all. There's a dedicated BBC iPlayer app in the BlackBerry World app store but this simply opens the browser.

BlackBerry Z10 screen

At 4.2in the screen on the BlackBerry Z10 is quite small when you compare it to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the wave of 5in and larger handsets which will be coming out this year. The size hasn't bothered us so far; it's big enough to comfortably browse the web, use apps and watch video content.

The screen size coupled with the resolution of 768x1280 gives the BlackBerry Z10 the highest pixel density of a phone we've reviewed. At 355ppi it beats the Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone 5, HTC Windows Phone 8X and Sony Xperia S. However, there are Full HD smartphones on their way this year which will ellipse this figure.

It's hard to find fault with the BlackBerry Z10's screen. At 355ppi it's not really a surprise that text and images look crisp and clear. Colours are vibrant, contrast is good and there's plenty of brightness should you need it. Our main concern is how quickly the display gets dirty with finger print marks, there's clearly no kind of oleophobic coating on the Z10.

There's only one model of the Z10 so you'll have to be ok with 16GB of internal storage. Unfortunately, before you even go downloading some apps, adding music and taking some snaps, a total of 4GB, a quarter of the storage is already used up by the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

Luckily there is a microSD card slot which accepts up to 64GB cards so this situation can at least be improved, albeit at an extra cost.

Most smartphones just have a microUSB slot and headphone port now but the Z10 has an additional Micro HDMI port – handy if you like connecting your phone to a larger display. Inside there is dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and NFC which is what we've come to expect from a high-end smartphone.

The Z10 also supports 4G LTE mobile networks. So even if you don't want to use EE, still the UK's only 4G network, the Z10 will be compatible when others are rolled out. However, we've noticed that the 800MHz spectrum (one of the two frequencies being auctioned in the UK currently) isn't supported which could cause problems.

NEXT PAGE - BlackBery Z10: cameras, software and battery >>

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