The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great smartphone - a faster, bigger, slimmer, lighter version of the ultra-successful Samsung Galaxy S3 - the Android phone that went before. But how does the Galaxy S4 shape up when compared to the best BlackBerry phone: the BlackBerry Z10. We compared the two phones to find out. Updated 17 May 2013
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs BlackBerry Z10: Design
The Galaxy S4 looks similar to the Galaxy S3 in design: it's pretty different to the BlackBerry Z10, which from the front at least looks like a squarer iPhone 5. The Galaxy S4 is rounded and pebble-like, the BlackBerry Z10 a thin-and-stylish rectangular slab of black. The Galaxy S4 is mostly plastic with a removable cover, while the Z10's front is almost all black, but it also has a thin plastic removable cover.
With a 5in screen and measuring 69.8x136.6mm the Galaxy S4 is a pretty big smartphone. It is wafer thin at 7.9mm and at 130g light too. By contrast the Z10 measures a smaller 66x130mm and is a not quite as slim 9.2mm. It's nice and light at 135g and fits snugly in your hand.
The Z10 is BlackBerry's first fully touchscreen smartphone - it has no physical keys or buttons for navigation. It is clean, simple and stylish; with straight edges and rounded corners.
The Z10's rear cover is slightly rounded at the edges making it more forgiving and comfortable in the hand than the iPhone. The rubbery texture made up of tiny dimples is very similar to that of the Nexus 7. When you take off the rear cover it feels thin and bendy, but robust.
The BlackBerry Z10 has a slightly less premium feel than some current smartphones in part because of its removable plastic back cover - given the Galaxy S4's similar plastic build this is no criticism. Use either phone for a while and you'll see that there are sound reasons for this. The Z10 and S4 are both workhorse smartphones, designed to travel everywhere and fulfil a variety of work and play functions without breaking. They are both designed and built beautifully - for me the S4 takes it because it is more striking, and bigger, whilst also being thin and light. But if you want a discreet and slick handset, you won't dislike the BlackBerry Z10.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs BlackBerry Z10: Screen
The Galaxy S4 has a 5in display with a Full HD resolution of 1080x1920, giving it a whopping pixel density of 441ppi. At 4.2in the screen on the BlackBerry Z10 is quite small when you compare it to Galaxy S4. But the size isn't a problem; it's big enough to comfortably browse the web, use apps and watch video content.
The screen size coupled with the resolution of 768x1280 used to give the BlackBerry Z10 the highest pixel density of any phone we'd reviewed, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 beats it (as does the Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One). At 355ppi the BlackBerry Z10 beats the Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone 5, HTC Windows Phone 8X and Sony Xperia S, however. Both the Galaxy S4 and the BlackBerry Z10 have sharp screens.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 display uses SuperAMOLED technology and Gorilla Glass 3.
It's hard to find fault with the BlackBerry Z10's screen. At 355ppi it's not really a surprise that text and images look crisp and clear. Colours are vibrant, contrast is good and there's plenty of brightness should you need it. Our main concern is how quickly the display gets dirty with finger print marks, there's clearly no kind of oleophobic coating on the Z10.
The 5in Full HD screen on the Galaxy S4 is really impressive, however. The SuperAMOLED technology means colours are vibrant but not over the top like previous models. Samsung says it consumes less power than the Galaxy S3's display which we hope is true. Like some of Nokia's Lumia smartphones, the Galaxy S4 display can be used with regular gloves.
Again it's a close-run thing, but we have to tip our hat to the S4. The BlackBerry Z10 has a great screen, but the S4 just tips it.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs BlackBerry Z10: Processor
There's no faulting the Galaxy S4's hardware which rivals devices like the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z. It's a shame that the UK model comes with a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor instead of the Exynos octa-core chip. Nevertheless, the Galaxy S4 is no slouch of a phone. With a whopping 2GB of RAM the Galaxy S4 blasted through our benchmarks.
It breezed its way to being a new record holder in both Geekbench 2 and GLBenchmark with results of 3227 and 41fps. The former is significantly more than the HTC One's 2721 previous record and almost twice that of the Galaxy S3.
The Galaxy S4 couldn't quite manage a treble win but still gave us an impressive time of 1092ms in the SunSpider test. The iPhone 5 remains the best phone in this area at 903ms.
BlackBerry has opted for a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM for the Z10's engine room. The dual-core chip might sound mid-range since most top end smartphones have a quad-core processor, but with the BlackBerry 10 OS we don't see this as a problem. The BlackBerry 10 operating system is nippy and shows no signs of lag in use on the Z10. Indeed its Geekbench 2 score of 1725 puts it in the upper echelons of current smartphones, even if it does mean the Xperia Z is marginally faster of the two.
Because of the relative lack of third-party software for BlackBerry phones we can't run our GLBenchmark graphics test on the Z10, but don't let that put you off. It's a fast phone - not quite as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it's not far off. See also: BlackBerry 10 review - BlackBerry 10 features, performance and gripes.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs BlackBerry Z10: Storage
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. It has a microSD card slot that takes 64GB cards as standard.
The BlackBerry Z10 is a bit limited on the storage front with only 16GB models. There is a microSD card for up to 64GB cards, though. Unfortunately, before you even go downloading some apps, adding music and taking some snaps, a total of 4GB, a quarter of the storage, is already used up by the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Not ideal.