BlackBerry (BB) 10 is currently the buzzword in the tech space and the BB Z10 is the current flagship platform to showcase this new OS. Just like Microsoft, BlackBerry has completely overhauled its OS experience and this time, has optimised it for gesture based control. Apart from the software, BlackBerry has also paid close attention to the hardware that went into the new Z10 so that it is on par with today’s high-end smartphones in the market. While we await the arrival of our test unit, here’s a preliminary breakdown of the specifications of the Z10 and how it stacks up against the competition.
OS – BlackBerry 10
BB 10 is BlackBerry’s reimagining of the mobile OS. Gestures play a vital role in navigation and the new BlackBerry Hub is accessible from any app, with a simple swipe. It has also completely redesigned the onscreen keyboard which now learns your typing style. BBM Video is something similar to what Apple did with FaceTime. Apart from sharing the view from your camera, you can also share documents, photos, etc. through the Screen Share feature. As far as apps go, we can expect around 70,000 BB 10 apps in the store with all the popular ones like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare will be pre-installed.
Cellular network – Quad-band GSM and 3G support
The Z10 has got you covered as far as network support is concerned. We have full quad-band GSM and 3G support and well, the US verison of the Z10 will have LTE while the global version mostly won't.
Display – 4.2-inch multi-touch
While there’s no mention of the type of display on BlackBerry’s site, we know it’s a 4.2-inch screen with a 1280 x 768 resolution. This brings the pixel count up to 356ppi, which is in keeping with today’s trend of high ppi displays. We don’t know for sure if BlackBerry has used any scratch resistant coating for the Z10 and if it has, there’s no mention of it anywhere.
Running the new BB 10 OS
Form factor and weight – 9 mm thick and weighs 135 g
The Z10 has a comfortable form factor. The dimensions and weight are well within the limits of what we consider comfortable. In terms of the design, the Z10 does have a bit of excess bezel at the top and bottom but still manages to look smart.
Wi-Fi – Dual-band, 802.11 ‘n’
The Z10 supports the 802.11 draft ‘n’ specification and also features dual-band support. Once again, this is right up there along with the other high-end smartphones in the market.
SoC– TI-OMAP 4470 dual-core
As far as we know, the global version of the Z10 will have a SoC from Texas Instruments whereas the US version with LTE will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960T S4 SoC. The OMAP 4470 SoC is not as sophisticated as Qualcomm’s newer batch of S4 SoC, but packs in enough grunt to get the job done. It’s still based on the older 45nm fabrication process as compared to the newer 28nm process used by Qualcomm and Nvidia. Inside, we have two ARM Cortex-A9 cores for the CPU and a PowerVR SGX 544 GPU. The SoC alone could be one of the reasons why initial impressions of the Z10 show a relatively weak battery life. The SoC is also accompanied by 2GB of RAM, which should keep things flowing smoothly.
Storage – 16GB with room for expansion up to 64GB
We have a decent amount of onboard storage along with the ability to expand it up to 64GB via microSD card.
NFC – Yes
Like most smartphones today, the Z10 will feature NFC to communicate with BlackBerry and other devices.
Primary Camera – 8MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture
Finally! BlackBerry has ditched its god awful fixation with fixed focus cameras and gone with an 8MP auto-focus BSI sensor. The 5-element lens also boasts of a decently large aperture of f/2.2, so we can expect some very good depth of field in macro shots. There’s also support for full HD video recording and a new Time Shift feature, which lets you change elements in an image once you’ve captured it.
Front camera – 2MP
The front camera is a 2MP shooter with image and video stabilisation; it also supports 720p video recording.
Sensors – Accelerometer, Gyroscope Sensor, Magnetometer
We have the usual suspects here apart from the ambient light sensor and the proximity sensor. This can be used in conjunction with the BlackBerry Maps application.
The Z10 doesn’t seem to have GLONASS, so you’ll have to make do with GPS.
Battery – Li-Ion 1800mAh
The battery is of a pretty decent capacity given the size of the phone. The 1800mAh would technically give you a day’s worth of battery life. We’ll know for sure once we have the handset with us.
The bottom line
The BlackBerry Z10 is definitely a huge improvement over BB's smartphones in the past and it now actually has a chance of competing with other flagship handsets on other platforms. The exact pricing is still a bit unclear, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it launched in the 35K to 40K price bracket. It’s a little unfair to compare the Z10 with any of the flagship Androids since they completely destroy it on paper and with the newer 1080p phablets enroute, the gap is only going to get wider. Plus, Android has a much better backing in terms of apps too, and the same goes with iOS. The only other up and comer is Windows Phone 8 and at that price point, the Lumia 920 suddenly becomes its main rival. Both handsets run on a brand new platform, have very similar specifications and would be priced very similarly as well.
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