The long-awaited launch of BlackBerry 10 stands out as a key moment in the mobile industry this year, and initial impressions of the platform have been broadly positive. BlackBerry’s new full-touchscreen flagship, the Z10, has also been generally well received since its arrival back in January. Concurrently, Google’s Nexus 4 handset has returned to the headlines, receiving an incremental update in the form of Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and improved availability. How does the precocious BlackBerry handset match up to Google’s market-disrupting Q4 2012 effort? Let’s take a look.
Size and weight
The BlackBerry Z10 and Nexus 4 are similarly proportioned devices. The former sizes up at 9mm in depth and tips the scales to the tune of 136g, while the Google handset has a girth of 9.1mm and weighs 139g.
BlackBerry’s Z10 features a sensibly sized 4.2in IPS LCD screen, with an HD resolution of 1,280 x 768 pixels and a density of 356ppi. The 4.7in Nexus 4 comes with similar specifications: its LCD display offers an identical HD resolution, though its extra 0.5in means that sharpness drops to 318ppi.
Both the Z10 and Nexus 4 sport an 8-megapixel primary camera. The BlackBerry handset’s 2-megapixel front snapper bests the 1.3-megapixel auxiliary shooter found on the Google handset. Both products offer 1080p video at 30fps.
Processor and battery
Featuring a quad-core Snapdragon S4 chipset clocked at 1.5GHz and supported by Adreno 320 graphics, the Nexus 4 is one of the most powerful Android devices currently available. The BlackBerry Z10 also sports a Snapdragon S4 SoC with a 1.5GHz clock speed, though its CPU configuration is dual-core, and its Adreno 225 GPU is older than the 320 and packs less of a punch. The Google handset’s 2,100 mAh battery bests the Z10’s 1,800 mAh offering – our BlackBerry Z10 review found battery life to be one of the handset’s biggest failings.
As Google’s flagship Android smartphone, the Nexus 4 is a seductive proposition for fans of the little green robot. It ships with the latest Jelly Bean flavour, version 4.2, and will surely be first in line for an update to Key Lime Pie when that rolls around later in the year. The Z10 shows off BlackBerry’s new BB10 OS – a slick, impressive interface that’s slightly compromised by a lack of apps at present.
Storage and memory
The Z10 and Nexus 4 both feature a hefty 2GB of RAM under the hood. Google’s smartphone can be had with 8GB or 16GB of on-board storage, while the latest BlackBerry handset comes with a standard 16GB capacity. Media buffs may favour the Z10, as – unlike the Nexus 4 – it comes equipped with a microSD card slot, so storage can be cheaply and easily boosted.
Connectivity and wireless
The BlackBerry Z10 supports the LTE standard and has already landed on EE’s UK 4G network. The Google Nexus 4 offers HSPA+ speeds, while both devices feature NFC technology.
The Nexus 4 features integrated wireless charging, and Google has finally started flogging the official ‘Orb’ Qi inductive charger accessory through the Play store – just not in the UK yet, unfortunately. The BlackBerry Z10 doesn’t offer any extras that are out of the ordinary, though the BB10 platform offers some unique features that will appeal to enterprise users.
Price, availability and opinion
The BlackBerry Z10 is available and can be had with no strings attached for £480 via O2. Google has struggled to keep up with demand for the Nexus 4 at times, but the device is currently listed as shipping in “less than one week” and can be had for £239 and £279 for the 8GB and 16GB versions, respectively.
With some £200 separating comparable models, there’s a fair bit for buyers to contemplate when sizing up whether to part with their hard-earned loot for the Z10 or Nexus 4. BlackBerry’s new full-touchscreen handset has by and large impressed, and it’s refreshing to see a manufacturer bucking the current trend for 5in-plus devices in favour of an easy-to-handle 4.2in display. The Z10’s microSD card slot means that content hoarders have plenty of room to play with, while 4G LTE support means that downloads should come through at a healthy rate if you’re using a 4G network . BlackBerry 10 itself offers a number of tangible user benefits, not least the Balance feature that allows you to toggle between dedicated work and play environments – a real boon for professional types.
But for the price, there’s nary a handset more capable than the LG-manufactured Google offering. Its 1.5GHz quad-core chipset and 2GB of RAM align it with the high-end segment, yet it comes at a fraction of the price and is likely to stay relevant throughout 2013 thanks to its privileged position at the top of the Android refresh queue. Lack of 4G LTE support is a shortcoming, but HSPA+ shouldn’t be sniffed at, and integrated wireless charging gives the Nexus 4 a bit of added ‘wow’ factor. App availability via Google Play is another obvious strength, and poor battery life doesn’t detract from the overall user experience as with the Z10. Then there’s the £200-odd saving itself – a fairly hefty pot of gravy and a rare opportunity to save money whilst still obtaining a top-quality product.