Is BlackBerry's Z10 Better Than iPhone5 and Nexus 4?

Masam is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Since its introduction on Jan. 30, Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ: BBRY) BlackBerry Z10 has been one of the hottest topics in the tech spheres. Where the bears have been absolutely skeptical about the new product’s pricing vs. features story, bulls have made up some strong arguments that suggest that the product might be a hit, especially given its superior features as compared to rival products.

The initial impressions of the Z10 have been favorable: Users have been impressed with the device build quality and overall usability. The 4.2” display size imparts a convenient one-handed usage experience. The Flow, Hub, and Active Tiles features have made the OS quite fluid and responsive. Users have suggested that Z10 has a superior set of keyboard, camera and browser than Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone5 and Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Nexus 4 (currently considered as the best Android phone)

Browser: Browser is an important feature since experts believe that an advanced browser will be a strong differentiator for mobile devices going forward, as content consumption is shifting from native apps to the browser. The browser on the Z10 is as fast, if not faster, than the browsers of the other two devices. BlackBerry’s browser is clearly better equipped to handle HTML5 pages. However, on the JavaScript test, iPhone5 scored highest (as indicated by the lowest timing on SunSpider), while BlackBerry came out marginally better than Android.

For context, the Ringmark test, created by Facebook, tests a mobile browser for how well it supports the capabilities that modern mobile web apps require. BlackBerry’s browser is one of the first browsers to pass the first two rings (0 and 1) of this test.

Keyboard: Z10’s keyboard is clearly the best. While the error rate is not much higher on the Nexus 4 or iPhone5 keyboard, the speed of typing is definitely higher on the Z10. The predictive feature on the keyboard is quite accurate and useful. Moreover, with continued use the keyboard’s predictive capabilities improve by customizing to the user’s linguistic nuances, something not offered by “Swype” and other similar features on other keyboards. One-handed typing was quite convenient on the Z10, unlike the experience on other two devices. The keyboard also integrates well with the Flow concept of the OS, making the overall user experience very smooth and fluid.

Maps: The maps feature is the only feature that the users have found better in the other two devices. According to a test run, the routing and navigation information on the Z10 was in line with Google Maps. However, the traffic information wasn’t exactly accurate on the Z10, while Nexus 4 and iPhone5 were a lot closer to actual conditions. It is interesting to note that BlackBerry’s native map application uses TomTom data, similar to iPhone5, while Nexus 4 uses Google Maps.

Camera: The Z10’s camera packs a couple of interesting and differentiated features. First and most notably, the Time Shift feature enables the user to separately edit each individual in a photograph, by moving forward and backward in time in fractions of a second to select the best shot. This adds to the “cool” factor on the device and is a significant differentiator in the market today. The second interesting feature is that the camera allows the user to shift the positioning of the focus by dragging the viewfinder on the screen. In addition, the editing software has Instagram-like features, which somewhat makes up for the fact that Instagram is currently not available.

Consumer reviews have been largely positive so far: There has largely been positive feedback for the device. The average rating for Z10 on Rogers, Telus, Carphone Warehouse, and Vodafone UK, is over 4 out of 5 stars. The features most commonly liked are the keyboard, the unified Hub, Flow, and Time Shift on the camera. Among the concerns highlighted, the leading ones were the limited apps availability and a shorter battery life than traditional BlackBerry devices. Interesting to note is that there is lack of any major issue with the device.

Encouraging early data points from BlackBerry and carrier partners: Rogers Communication (NYSE: RCI) said it had sold more BlackBerry smartphones on the Canada launch day than any other day in Rogers history, with thousands of Z10 smartphones activated. It also reported that some stores had temporarily sold out of the Z10 inventory and fresh inventory was being shipped. In the UK, retail partner Phones 4u issued a press release noting exceptional first week sales, with over 55% of its 680 stores running out of inventory.

Foolish Bottom Line

The Street is extremely bullish on this phone given the favorable reviews that it has received since its release. Given that BlackBerry expects massive incremental revenues from this product, the success of this product has led me to take a bullish stance on this stock. A major test for the device will be what happens when it reaches the US.


AnalystX has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google, and Rogers Communications (USA). The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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