Over the past few months, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been making an unexpected turnaround sparked by the upcoming release of the BlackBerry Z10 (March 22nd on AT&T (NYSE:T)) and Q10. Although it hasn't sold a single Z10 or Q10 in the US, BlackBerry's stock has risen over 13% in the past 3 months. Meanwhile, its competitors Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) stocks have been falling as the momentum has shifted back in favor of the once sinking ship. But, is BlackBerry's turnaround a result of superior products, or is it all just hype? Let's take a look at how the Z10 and Q10 stack up against the Apple iPhone 5, top Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android phones, and the Nokia Lumia 920.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Nokia Lumia 920
Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
Dual-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A9
Dual-core 1.2 GHz
Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait
Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait
$199 on contract (March 22nd release, AT&T)
N/A (April expected release)
$199 on contract (16GB)
N/A (April 26th expected Release)
$99 on contract
Source: GSM Arena
The Z10 is the flagship phone for BlackBerry's new 10 OS, and will be the main competitor to Apple, Google, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) operated smartphones, out of the two new phones BlackBerry unveiled. With its 4.2-inch display and rectangular form factor, the Z10 is a monumental leap for BlackBerry into the modern smartphone arena. Its tech specs are for the most part comparable to its competitors, with its most impressive feature being its 1280x768 display. Although its screen is better than the current generation of smartphones, it will soon be beaten by the 1080p screen of the upcoming HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Other than that, the Z10 has a fairly standard 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 16GB internal storage, an 8MP rear camera, and 4G LTE connectivity. Thus, on tech specs alone, it would be hard to argue why a consumer would buy the Z10 over its competition, especially as a latecomer.
In terms of software and user experience, the Z10's BlackBerry 10 OS is a welcome upgrade over BB7 feeling more like a fluid OS like Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or the Windows Phone OS. It is very gesture-based like other smartphones' operating systems; swiping in various directions or locations will bring up different programs and interfaces. The most important of which being BlackBerry Hub, the aggregate information center of the phone. However, the primary downside of this new OS is the lack of quality apps in the BlackBerry World store, a similar problem that both Windows Phone and Android faced in their early stages.
The BlackBerry Q10, on the other hand, is similar in form and function to the "traditional" BlackBerry smartphone, with its tactile QWERTY keyboard below its 3.1-inch display. The Q10 is a welcome upgrade over the previous BlackBerry Bold and Curve, as it features a larger screen with a relatively high pixel density, and runs the 10 OS like the Z10. As such, this phone will appeal to BlackBerry loyalists that cannot give up their physical QWERTY keyboards. However, the Z10 not the Q10 will determine the fate of BlackBerry because a "traditional" BlackBerry has already lost its appeal to the mass market.
Blackberry's recent gains are more a result of hype than of superior products. The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, although significant upgrades over previous BlackBerry smartphones, have nothing particularly special that vastly differentiates them from smartphones already on the market. Even worse, the next generation 1080p Android smartphones will make the new BlackBerry's look outdated within a couple of months. Although BlackBerry may live to fight another day if it manages to keep BlackBerry die-hards and corporate clients onboard, I believe the hype surrounding the Z10 and Q10 will be short-lived upon their late March, April release dates and momentum may turn once again against BlackBerry's stock.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.