During their January 30th BlackBerry Live press conference here in New York City, the Toronto-based company formerly known as RIM (Research In Motion) announced to the world not only a name change; now known simply as BlackBerry, but two completely brand new devices that will run its long awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system. The two devices, appropriately coined Q10 and Z10, will be BlackBerry’s first entrants into a heavily saturated smartphone market since the release of their last BlackBerry 7 devices back in November 2011. The lower spec’d Q10 utilizes the iconic hardware QWERTY keyboard that BlackBerry has made a staple in the industry for over a decade, while the flagship Z10 utilizes a full touchscreen slate chassis incorporated in most phones currently on the market. So in the face of heavy competition, how does the BlackBerry Z10 stack up against more entrenched juggernauts such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III in a hardware showdown? Let’s break it down.
Dimensions: The BlackBerry Z10 is 130 millimeters tall by 6.9 millimeters wide, 9 millimeters thick and weighs in at a respectable 137 grams. The Galaxy S3 is taller and wider but also thinner than the Z10 with measurements of 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm. As for weight the Galaxy S 3 is 4 grams lighter than the Z10 at 133 grams, but this is scant compared to the king of light, the iPhone 5, which comes in at 112 grams and measures 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm.
Screen Size and Resolution: For those looking for a capable screen that allows its user to enjoy quality HD movies and web browsing, but feel that the 4.8” behemoth utilized in the Galaxy S3 is too large and the 4.0” IPS “Retina” display used in the iPhone 5 is too small, then the 4.2” screen used in the Z10 should be a perfect fit. With a resolution of 1280x768, the Z10 comes with a higher pixel density (355ppi) than both the iPhone 5 (1136x640 - 326ppi) and Galaxy S3 (1280x720 - 306ppi). This ensures sharper images, but the nod for better color reproduction goes to the iPhone 5 and it’s brighter IPS panel as well as the deeper and darker tones found in the Super AMOLED panel of the GS3.
Ports: Besides the standard volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone jack, few extra additions set each phone apart. Both the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 utilize a hardware home button to back out of apps as well as launch voice features. In addition to the hardware home button, the Galaxy S3 incorporates two touch sensitive menu and back buttons. BlackBerry, on the other hand, has decided to forgo any hardware buttons and, taking a note from the Google’s Nexus line of phones, focuses strictly on user gestures to navigate the Z10’s user interface. Of the three devices, only the iPhone 5 has a dedicated hardware camera button.
Processing, Memory and HDD: Having endured years of stagnancy and disappointing sales, BlackBerry has taken great precautions to not be completely outshined by its competitors. Such precautions included utilizing the dual core 1.5 ghz Snapdragon S4 Plus (TI OMAP 4470 in non LTE markets) system on a chip with 2GB of RAM to power the Z10. Though not the fastest processor available, the S4 Plus is the fastest processor BlackBerry has ever used in any of its devices. Similarly, the Galaxy S3 uses the same 1.5 ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor paired with 2GB of RAM, while the Apple iPhone 5 uses a speedy dual core 1.3 ghz A5 with 1GB of RAM. The BlackBerry Z10 comes with 16GB of internal hard drive space that is also expandable with an up to 64GB micro-sd card. The Galaxy S3 comes with both 16 and 32GB internal memory which is also expandable, while the iPhone 5 comes with the option of having 16, 32, and 64GB of internal storage though it is not expandable.
The true star of each device is their operating system. Without the OS, a smartphone would be nothing more than a high quality slab of metal and plastic. BlackBerry 10 is the newest operating system on the market, and BlackBerry knew that it’s once business oriented platform would have to be more user friendly to succeed in a more multimedia and social media oriented smartphone world. From initial impressions, BlackBerry 10 has succeeded. Drawing heavily on gesture based interactions where a different motion of your finger reveals hidden menus within the OS, and fresh new features such as Time Shift which takes multiple pictures in sequence so the user can choose the best photo; BlackBerry 10 amalgamates the sophistication of previous iterations of its OS with the smoothness of Apple’s iOS 6 and the user satisfying features of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
Which phone is the best? Well, that’s for you to decide. The Galaxy S3 is available across all four major US carriers for $199 on contract ($249 for the 32GB Verizon and Sprint versions) while the iPhone 5 is available on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint for$199 ( 16GB) $299 (32GB), and $399 for the 64GB version. When the BlackBerry Z10 drops in the US sometime in March 2013, the phone is reported to be available on all four major US carriers with prices purportedly ranging from $149 on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, and $199 on Verizon for the white and black versions.