Pre-2007, “BlackBerry” was practically synonymous with “smartphone.” Then the iPhone came along ... then Android came along ... and eventually “Blackberry” became synonymous with an inability to adapt. Now, in 2013, the company is finally doing something new. Does its first serious multitouch handset, the BlackBerry Z10, have what it takes to take on the iPhone 5? Let’s see how their specs – and harder-to-define intangibles – compare.
The Z10 may resemble the iPhone 5 more than any other non-Apple handset. BlackBerry’s phone is a bit larger, though, in every dimension. Its height and width differences are negligible, but the Z10 is 18 percent thicker.
The Z10 is also much heavier than the iPhone 5. But as the iPhone 5 is still one of the lightest phones around, the BlackBerry isn’t uncommonly heavy.
The BlackBerry Z10’s display is slightly larger, and packs more pixels. You could argue that anything over about 330 pixels per inch (PPI) is overkill, but an ultra-close examination of the Z10 would, nonetheless, reveal a sharper display.
On paper, both CPUs look similar. The Z10’s chip is similar (or identical?) to the Snapdragon processors in the Lumia 920, Motorola Razr HD, and HTC One X. It should pack plenty of punch for anything available in BlackBerry World.
The Z10 has the edge in Random-access Memory (RAM), with 2 GB next to the iPhone’s 1 GB.
While Apple sells the iPhone 5 in multiple storage models, BlackBerry only sells the Z10 in one 16 GB flavor. Unlike the iPhone, though, you can add (up to) 32 GB more with a microSD card.
Both phones ride speedy LTE networks. If your local carrier doesn’t yet provide LTE, both handsets also support HSPA+ (faster than 3G, but not LTE) and 3G networks.
Both phones sport 8-megapixel rear shooters, while the Z10 has a higher-resolution 2 MP front camera.
The Z10’s BlackBerry 10 camera app also has a cool feature called Time Shift, which snaps still frames before and after you snap your pic. You can then scroll back and forward in the timeline to find the perfect shot.
The Z10 continues to look good on paper. Its battery is higher-capacity than the iPhone's. Unlike Apple's, it's also removable: great for business customers on the go. Just remember that many other factors determine actual battery life.
If BlackBerry 10 wasn’t so late to the party, it could potentially serve as a serious rival to Android and iOS. But, like Windows Phone, it’s likely destined to a fate of distant third or fourth place. Customers love quality, but timing is important too. BB10 took too damn long.
Still, BlackBerry 10 isn’t without its perks. Its keyboard may be the most innovative virtual QWERTY since Swype and SwiftKey. Like SwiftKey, it thrives on prediction, but here the tiny suggestions float on the keyboard. If you see your word, swipe up to select. It makes Apple’s unchanged-since-2007 keyboard look antiquated.
Mobile devices, though, are nothing without apps. Here there’s no contest: the iOS App Store beats BlackBerry World – in both quality and quantity – by a colossal margin. In time, BBW can grow, but early adopters will feel like they travelled back in time to the earliest days of the App Store or Android Market.
It comes down to your overall experience. Both platforms have their perks. If they launched simultaneously, it would be a tough decision. As it stands, though, the App Store’s maturity may outweigh BB10’s keyboard, BlackBerry Hub or BlackBerry Flow.
We don’t, however, pretend to have a one-size-fits-all answer. A mobile market that stretches beyond iOS and Android is good for everyone. If you fall in love with BlackBerry 10 and the Z10, don’t hesitate. At the very least, you’re showing your appreciation for a company that – on its deathbed – rose to its feet for another fight.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning