Samsung Galaxy S4 vs BlackBerry Z10

Vs Paul Briden 17:32, 22 Mar 2013

We check out how the BlackBerry Z10 fares against Samsung's Galaxy S4

The latest flagship phone from Samsung, the Galaxy S4, has some big shoes to fill, but fortunately it comes with a cutting-edge processor and a sizeable Full HD display.

The BlackBerry Z10 is the debut device for the re-invented BlackBerry 10 operating system. It’s a more lightweight device in terms of spec but still has a reasonably competitive processor and display setup.

Can it weather the Galaxy S4’s onslaught? We find out.

Samsung Galaxy S4: Key specs and features

At time of writing, question marks are still hovering over the Galaxy S4’s UK distribution with regards to which processor variants we’ll be able to get hold of.

Currently the official stance is still that we will be getting the Qualcomm S4 Snapdragon 600 quad-core powered model, complete with 4G connectivity. However, unconfirmed at this point is the suggestion the Exynos 5 Octa eight-core variant could also be made available as a 3G-only device.

As it stands then, we have to go with what we know, and that’s the Qualcomm 600.

This is the chip-maker’s latest quad-core Snapdragon S4 model and in Samsung’s Galaxy S4 it’s clocked at a fearsome 1.9GHz with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 graphics processing unit (GPU).

The same setup, clocked at a slower speed, has been benchmarked in other phones such as the HTC One, where it’s shown to be the fastest chip on the current market.

It should easily be capable of running any app or game you’re able to find in the Google Play store and will deftly handle intensive multitasking. The interface experience is going to be suitably slick and responsive too.

The Galaxy S4’s display panel is part of the new wave of large-scale touchscreens and as such it’s a 5-inch span of Super AMOLED material with a Full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution at 440 pixels-per-inch (ppi).

Visuals are crisp and detailed as a result while, contrast and colour reproduction deliver rich and punchy imagery on a screen that’s big enough to offer a brilliant media consumption experience. We can see ourselves happily using such a device for watching whole feature films and TV series while travelling, for example.

The camera is a 13-megapixel back-illuminated sensor (BSI) with an LED flash and the usual bag of tricks: autofocus, touch focus, face and smile detection, white balance, exposure control, digital zoom, geo-tagging, scenes, effects and a self-timer.

It has a few extra cards up its sleeve as it retains the Galaxy S3’s very good image and video stabilisation, simultaneous still image and 1080p HD video capture, panoramic capture, HDR, voice activation and a multishot mode.

The multishot has been updated and now captures up to 100 shots in four seconds and as well as a best picture picker there’s also a ‘Drama Shot’ mode to create time-lapse montages.

Even more fancy stuff comes in the form of the dual-video capture, which lets you use both the 13-megapixel primary and 2-megapixel front-facing secondary at the same time. Built-in software then lets you combine the footage and you can also layer audio recordings over still image files captured on the camera.

Android 4.2 is an obvious plus thanks to its optimised speed, stability and touch-responsiveness. TouchWiz is quite a thick UI layer which we’re not overly fond of but it’s not a deal-breaker.

BlackBerry Z10: Key specs and features

The BlackBerry Z10 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz with an Adreno 225 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

Obviously, this is nowhere near the same territory as Samsung’s monstrous power plant, but that’s because with the Z10 BlackBerry appears to be going for a balanced approach. It’s almost an iPhone-like approach to software and hardware optimisation, but the operating system is unique in a few crucial ways.

In general operation the BlackBerry Z10 acquits itself reasonably well, there’s little in the way of stuttering or lag and it should be able to handle some decent multimedia without too much trouble.

We’d say the platform experience is closer to Android than anything else but it has a few special quirks.

The similarity is that it has multitasking at its core, more so than Android in many ways as, rather than a running app carousel you’ve got a persistent notifications centre and communications hub only a gesture away.

Active apps minimise into thumbnail widgets on the homescreen for easy access and there’s never really a need to open a mail app or even a social networking app because it’s all there in the hub.

Build quality is also something which stands out on the BlackBerry Z10.

It’s made from polycarbonate but this has a reassuringly premium feel and a satisfying matte finish. In places it’s clad with textured rubber and plastic grip panels but these fit well with the rest of the design. It’s a very solidly put together device and reasonably good-looking too.

The display is quite capable, it’s a 4.2-inch LCD with a 1280x768 pixel resolution at 355ppi. Colour and contrast are good and it isn’t too shabby when it comes to picture clarity either.

Direct spec comparison: Shootout

Device Samsung Galaxy S4
BlackBerry Z10
Dimensions 136.6x69.8x7.9mm, 130g 130x65.6x9mm,137.5g
Display 5-inch Super AMOLED,1920x1080 pixels,440ppi 4.2-inch LCD,1280x768 pixels,355ppi
Camera 13-megapixel,LED flash,1080p video 8-megapixel,LED flash,1080p video
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB, microSD up to 64GB 16GB, microSD up to 64GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm 600,2GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4,2GB RAM,Adreno 225 GPU
Operating System, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean BlackBerry 10
UI  TouchWiz n/a
Connectivity microUSB,Bluetooth,NFC,Wi-Fi,Wi-Fi Direct,Wi-Fi Hotspot,DLNA,4G,GPS,MHL Bluetooth,microUSB,NFC,Wi-Fi,DLNA,GPS,4G,HDMI
Battery 2,600mAh 1,800mAh

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