BlackBerry Z10 full review

BlackBerry Z10

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Design

The Z10 is BlackBerry's first fully touchscreen smartphone - it has no physical keys or buttons for navigation. It is clean, simple and stylish; with straight edges and rounded corners.

As is traditional for an 'S' model, the Apple iPhone 5S shares a similar size, shape, design and weight as the iPhone 5 – although it's now available in silver, gold and space grey. It's pretty similar to the BlackBerry Z10, which from the front at least looks like a squarer iPhone 5.

The BlackBerry Z10 is a thin-and-stylish rectangular slab of black plastic, however. The Z10's front is almost all black, and it has a thin plastic removable cover. It measures 66x130mm and is 9.2mm thick. It's nice and light at 135g and fits snugly in your hand.

The iPhone 5S is an object of desire. It's smaller and lighter than the Z10, measuring 59x124x7.6mm and weighing in at a staggeringly light 112g.

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. When you take off the rear cover it feels thin and bendy, but robust. You can't, of course, remove the cover of the iPhone 5S.

The BlackBerry Z10 has a slightly less premium feel than some current smartphones in part because of its removable plastic back cover. The Z10 is a workhorse smartphone, designed to travel everywhere and fulfil a variety of work and play functions without breaking. It is beautifully designed and built for this task beautifully - if you want a discreet and slick handset, you won't dislike the BlackBerry Z10.

At first glance you might prefer the aluminium build quality quality of the iPhone over the Z10, but looks can be deceiving. Having owned and used an iPhone 5 for a year or so I know that aluminium chips easily, and you need a case to protect your precious iPhone. The Z10 is much more robust.

So for good looks, go for the iPhone. For a phone without a case that will wear well hard work, choose the Z10. See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Screen

At 4.2in the screen on the BlackBerry Z10 is quite small when you compare it to other modern smartphones - although not the iPhone 5S. Many Android and Windows Phone 8 handsets have much bigger screens, but this size isn't a problem; it's big enough to comfortably browse the web, use apps and watch video content.

The Z10's screen size coupled with the resolution of 768x1280 gives the BlackBerry Z10 a higher pixel density: at 355ppi the BlackBerry Z10 beats the iPhone 5S with its score of 326ppi. Rest assured that you won't struggle to pick out detail on either phone's display.

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.

We haven't yet spent as much time with the iPhone 5S, but expect excellence. These phones both offer great displays.

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Battery

The BlackBerry Z10 has a removable battery pack with a capacity of 6.7Wh (1800mAh), lower than most. BlackBerry says it will last up to 13 days on standby and 10 hours talk time.

We got about what we expected from the Z10 which was no more than a day of battery life. It's a shame that it's a smartphone that you'll have to charge every night, many of the top smartphones last a couple of days. We were hoping it might be an area where BlackBerry could offer something more. It also takes an irritatingly long time to charge the Z10.

If you're hoping for a breakthrough in battery life then the iPhone 5S is not it. Unusually for a tech company Apple's claimed battery life figures tend to be close to the mark. The iPhone 5S has a built-in, non-swappable lithium-ion battery. Apple says the iPhone 5S will last for up to 250 hours on standby, and 10 hours of talk time. Web surfing is 8 hours on 3G, and 10 hours on LTE and Wi-Fi. Apple claims 10 hours for video playback and 40 hours audio playback, for the iPhone 5S. Before testing I expect these to bear out.

We can't yet pick a winner in this area.

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Processor, performance

BlackBerry Z10 We can't yet pick a winner here, either. But before in-depth testing of the iPhone 5S here are our thoughts.

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 mid-range since most top end smartphones have a quad-core processor, but with the BlackBerry 10 OS we don't see this as a problem. The BlackBerry 10 operating system is nippy and shows no signs of lag in use on the Z10. Indeed its Geekbench 2 score of 1725 puts it in the upper echelons of current smartphones.

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 anyway reflect the browser's performance in our tests. It wasn't flawless, but it wasn't far off.

Because of the relative lack of third-party software for BlackBerry phones we can't run our GLBenchmark graphics test on the Z10, but don't let that put you off. It's a fast phone.

The iPhone 5S is the first 64-bit smartphone. It comes with an all-new A7 chip with 64-bit architecture. It also has what Apple calls an M7 motion coprocessor, which should mean a lot more apps that use motion-tracking, such as fitness apps. Apple doesn't tend to say how much RAM it puts into its smartphones but don't expect it to stint on the iPhone 5S.

64-bit computing in a phone will likely make little difference in the short term, but is a sure fire way to future proof what should be a superfast phone.

My colleagues Lex Friedman, Jason Snell, Dan Moren tried the iPhone 5S and this is that they said about its performance: "We found it speedy and snappy, and iOS 7 looks great. We weren't able to run any benchmark tests or particularly hungry apps, so there was no way to put to the test Apple's claims of it being twice as fast as the iPhone 5 in many tasks.

"As we said, the iPhone 5s feels more or less like the iPhone 5. It's truly an iPhone with an "s" at the end at its name - a whole bunch of upgraded internals built on top of a phone design that seems quite familiar."

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Storage

The iPhone 5S comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. You can't expand its storage, however.

The BlackBerry Z10 is a bit limited on the storage front with only 16GB models. There is a microSD card for up to 64GB cards, though. 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. Not ideal.

Neither of these phones is a storage king. You basically choose between the greater storage of a more expensive iPhone, or the ability to use an SD card to expand storage.

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Cameras

iPhone 5S The Z10's main camera is 8Mp with an LED flash, BSI (back side illumination), a dedicated ISP (image signal processor) and a F2.2 lens. The rear camera can record video in up to Full HD 1080p quality.

Photos are okay for a high-end smartphjone, but nothing more. You can select anywhere on the touchscreen to focus and then take a picture. The Z10 has a mind of its own with this method but fortunately you can use either volume button to operate the shutter. You can find sample images in our BlackBerry Z10 review.

The main show off feature of the Z10's camera is Time Shift. By taking numerous snaps in one go, you can adjust the whole image or individual elements like someone's face. It's a nice feature but don't be fooled into thinking it's new; the Nokia Lumia smartphones have a similar thing called Smart Shoot.

We like the editing software built in to BlackBerry 10 which allows you comprehensively edit and tweak your pictures. You can crop, rotate, adjust settings like white balance and add Instagram-style filters and borders.

We tested out the front-facing 2Mp camera by having a video chat in BBM Video (a new feature of BlackBerry 10). The camera shoots video in 720p quality and we thought it looked pretty good.

The iPhone 5S has two cameras, a front-facing FaceTime camera and a rear-facing camera known as an iSight camera. The specifications work out as follows.

The iPhone 5S iSight camera has what Apple describes as a 'better 8Mp sensor', than either the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 5C. It lists the sensor as 8 megapixels with 1.5µ pixels. It has ƒ/2.2 aperture and a true-tone flash. The FaceTime Camera takes 1.2Mp photos at a resolution of 1280x960, and offers 720p HD video recording.

We'll have to test the iPhone 5S properly before we can properly pronounce on its camera capabilities.

These are two great smartphone cameras - not likely to replace your DSLR, but excellent compact cameras for everyday photography.

iPhone 5S vs BlackBerry Z10: Software

The iPhone 5S will launch with iOS7, and be upgraded for free to all new versions of Apple's operating system. iOS has the best app- and media support of any mobile platform. It does tie you into Apple's world, however.

But if you have used any iPhone (or even Android) you will be familiar and comfortable with the way iOS7 works.

The BlackBerry Z10 was the first device to run BlackBerry 10 - the company's all-new operating system. For a more detailed look at BlackBerry's new operating system take a look at our BlackBerry 10 review - 'BlackBerry 10 features, performance and gripes'. Depending on your previous experience, you may wish to: using BlackBerry 10 can be a bit baffling. It's worth perservering, however, as in a short time the swiping navigation starts to make sense. For a more detailed look at BlackBerry's new operating system take a look at our BlackBerry 10 review.

BlackBerry 10 has a main home screen which is blank until you launch an app. Start using apps and open apps are shown in small windows, most recent first. We would have like a way to rearrange the windows or pin favourites so they don't move off the screen. Tapping an app opens it and swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen navigates back to the home screen. Apps remain running unless you actively close them. An app menu sits to the right of the main home screen only a swipe away. Swiping from the top of the screen brings up phone settings or options.

The BlackBerry Hub sits to the left of the main home screen. This is an all-in-one inbox and notification centre for all your accounts. Swiping from the bottom of the screen minimises what you have open and shows you notifications on the left. You can then choose whether to open the Hub by swiping to the right, swipe back down to return you your app or go straight up to head to the home screen.

Another big feature of BlackBerry 10 is the keyboard. The more you use it the better it can predict which words you need to construct your sentence. Suggested words are spread across the keyboard and choosing one involves flicking it upwards with a satisfying swipe. It's good, but different, like much of BlackBerry 10.

What is different but not so good is BlackBerry World. The BlackBerry app store has tens of thousands of apps, games, music and movies on offer, while magazines are available from the BlackBerry Newsstand. Indeed the Z10 has apps such as Facebook and Twitter pre-installed, but there are many big names missing from BlackBerry World that can be found in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Skype and National Rail are two that spring to mind (there is a 'Skype' app, but it's not the official Microsoft Skype app - unless I am mistaken).

BlackBerry says many of the top names are 'committed' to getting apps on to the store. We'll see. It's worth pointing out that when I first wrote about BlackBerry 10 the list above contained Kindle and WhatsApp, both of which are now available.

Until we've spent a lot of time with iOS7 it's impossible to be definitive in our thoughts here, but in terms of the whole ecosystem its hard not to recommend it over BlackBerry - not that there is anything wrong with BlackBerry 10.


BlackBerry Z10: Specs

  • BlackBerry 10 OS
  • 4.2in (768x1280)
  • 1.5GHz dual-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 8Mp rear camera (1080p video)
  • 2Mp front camera (720p video)
  • dual-band Wi-Fi
  • 4G LTE
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • Micro HDMI
  • micro USB
  • 66x130x9.2mm
  • 135g

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