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BlackBerry Z10 review


A likeable smartphone that offers something very different to the competition: an encouraging return to form for BlackBerry

Review Date: 5 Feb 2013

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: Free, on a £31 per month, 24 months contract.

Buy it now for: £277
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

3 stars out of 6

It's only a smartphone, but much rests on the BlackBerry Z10's slim shoulders. It's the first phone to sport the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 smartphone OS, and carries with it all the hopes of a once-great technology company. With BlackBerry's (formerly RIM) share price and sales on the slide, the Z10 needs to make a big impact if it's to have any hope of turning the firm's fortunes around.

As such, it's perhaps appropriate the new phone bears more than a passing resemblance to the most successful smartphone around. From the profile of the rounded corners to the flat, chopped-off edges, the Z10 looks like the iPhone 5's big brother. If it's a sibling, though, it's certainly the uglier one, with a textured, cheap-feeling, soft-touch plastic rear and thicker 9.1mm waistline proving entirely less alluring than the iPhone's aluminium frame.

BlackBerry Z10

Still, we do appreciate the minimalist design – the volume rocker on the right-hand side and power button on the top edge are the only physical controls – and the 4.2in, 768 x 1,280 display strikes just the right balance between screen real estate and pocketability.

The Z10 is nothing if not practical, though. Lever off the back of the Z10 and you'll discover a replaceable, 1,800mAh battery and a microSD slot, ready to expand the existing 16GB of internal storage. And there's little else missing from the list of specifications: it has both front and rear-facing 8-megapixel and 2-megapixel cameras capable of capturing 1080p and 720p video respectively; there's Bluetooth 4, NFC and dual-band Wi-Fi covering the wireless side of things, plus 4G compatibility.


On paper, the Z10's core specification looks competitive, too, with a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Plus processor backed up by 2GB of RAM – right up there with the best on the market. And the first time you fire up the Z10 the signs are good. Slide a thumb from right to left to access the app drawer, take a peek at your messages, swipe through an inbox or two and all is well. Web pages in the browser respond smoothly to pinch, pan and scroll gestures, and even streaming HD material via YouTube plays smoothly.

Start to dig a little deeper, fire up a few apps and leave them running, however, and things look less rosy, with animations and transitions from screen to screen juddering frequently. Demanding 3D games were occasionally reduced to a sluggish crawl: Wipeout-clone Ragged Edge started dropping frames madly as soon as the action started to heat up.

BlackBerry Z10

Running the SunSpider browser benchmark revealed that the browser isn't the quickest either. It completed the tests in an average time of 1,902ms, which is slower than both the iPhone 5 (932ms) and Samsung Galaxy S III (1,430ms).

The display is altogether more impressive. Here, the benchmark is the iPhone 5, which reaches an eye-searing 582cd/m2 at its highest setting; the Z10 outstrips it. Indeed, we measured it at a frankly astonishing 715cd/m2 – the brightest phone screen we've come across by quite some distance.

Now, we should point out there's no way to disable the auto-brightness setting, so the BlackBerry Z10 only reaches this high brightness under direct and full sunlight. The rest of the time it hovers somewhere around 300cd/m2 to 400cd/m2 in office conditions, which is still perfectly acceptable. You can also turn the brightness down manually, should you so wish.

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User comments

I'll just wait...

...for the Q10, thanks

By rcayon on 5 Feb 2013

Your just miffed it is not an iPhone.

>There's also a selection of filters that can be applied to both stills and video, while the Story Maker app lets you put together a quick video montage of clips and photos, complete with backing music and titles. It's all wholesome fun, although you don't get a great deal of control.<

No matter how good the function unless it is an iPhone you have to add a negative remark that contradicts what you say.
You don't get a lot of control with an iPhone either on more functions than this phone. But never seen the negative addition on any iPhone review.

By curiousclive on 5 Feb 2013

Didn't live up to the hype

I was expecting more from QNX/BB10. I bought a SIM free Z10 the moment the doors opened at Carphone Warehouse. Unfortunately, I have found the user experience somewhat underwhelming and even annoying in places. One such place is the browser - it stinks. There is a lot of judder on many pages, especially when scrolling in landscape mode (even with Flash turned off). It's not a smooth and fluid experience, and will annoy some users more than others (it really annoys me). Some pages also flicker (sync problems?) when scrolling. It makes the handset feel more like a mid-range handset from a year ago, rather than a premium 2013 device.

Personally, I think it's priced too high, and due to poor user experience delivered by the Z10 (especially in the browsing department), Blackberry have dropped the ball on this one.

By FreedomFighter on 5 Feb 2013


I hate to state the obvious, but wouldn't half an hour's playing with it in the shop before you committed have alerted you to the browser issue?

By AndyChips on 5 Feb 2013


PC Pro see enough negative in the iPhone to not have it on the A-List...?

By kingjulian on 5 Feb 2013

Browser, is it slow, or fast, or does it have more features?

has a browser test comparison video with three tests, browser mark, sun spider and ring mark on four phones.

Probably there are other tests that can be done. I just found it interesting to see that the performance in different tests was different across the four phones.

The easy access to the reader mode looks interesting and useful. It strips out the advertisements.

By pordee on 6 Feb 2013

Why has BlackBerry chosen to copycat the ugly "sardine can flattened by an asphalt roller" shape of the iPhones?

By drspek on 7 Feb 2013

5 stars

Had the Blackberry Z10 for a week now and it is hands-down, the best mobile phone on the market. It makes the Iphone interface feel positively old. The phone is incredibly fast. Differentiators include: Removable battery, hdmi out, standard micro-usb charger port, notification led, ultra-high resolution large display, true multi-tasking, DNLA compliant media sharing over wi-fi, remote control of another Z10, time shift camera, video calls over BBM, consolidated messaging via the hub and of course the Blackberry unique feature of a dedicated encrypted network for business communication. The same network that had Governments around the World trying to force Blackberry to release the encryption keys. If Apple had a fraction of these features, it would deserve it's 5 stars

By DGoodman on 7 Feb 2013

The more the merrier

I hope this saves Blackberry. I love Andriod, but the more systems we have the more likely it is to push the other OS's along. (Making better phones for all of us). Andriod, Windows, IOS and Blackberry. It's all good. Rob

By golders on 7 Feb 2013

No thank you

This phone is terrible!

It's awful. How do I know this? Well, of course, I have a Z10 in front of me.

I've now been staring at the settings 'loading' screen for 5 (Really) minutes waiting for something to happen. This is a brand new phone, out of the box, checked for updates, etc.

- I could not add my pop3 account (Force9) as it checks the settings and the outgoing F9 server has been dead for years.
- I cannot add a certificate to the phone as it asks for a password. THERE IS NO PASSWORD.

I didn't have these issues with Windows mobile no matter what version. The same goes for the iPhone and the single Android device that we have.

P.s. This phone is for a director moving straight from a standard Rim device with keyboard. He's going to have a LOT of fun with the gestures.

By rhythm on 7 Mar 2013

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