BlackBerry Z10 teardown reveals a higher BOM than Apple's iPhone 5

BlackBerry Z10 teardown reveals a higher BOM than Apple's iPhone 5

Summary: BlackBerry spared no expense when it came to kitting the flagship Z10 out with quality components, but is it a good spec sheet that sells a smartphone? I don't think so.


It appears that BlackBerry spared no expense when it came to choosing high-spec, quality components for its new flagship Z10 handset, with a teardown revealing a bill of materials—otherwise know as the BOM—for the smartphone coming in a few dollars higher than that of the iPhone 5.

The teardown, carried out by UBM TechInsights, goes through the list of components, attaching a price tag to each. For example, the Qualcomm MSM8960—Snapdragon S4—processor comes in at $23.50, the display is an additional $19, while the 16GB of NAND storage adds $4.

The teardown also reveals that Qualcomm is the biggest winner inside the Z10, having grabbed four major socket wins—processor, audio codec, power management, and cellular radio chip.

From a spec sheet point of view, the Z10 has the iPhone 5 beaten in a number of categories. The display has a higher resolution, the 8MP camera features backside illumination (BSI), the front camera is a 2MP unit as opposed to 1.2MP, and the handset has twice as much RAM.

The total BOM for a 16GB Z10 is estimated to be $154, compared to $139.20 for a 16GB iPhone 5.

(Source: TechInsights)

One standout from the teardown is how similar BlackBerry's Z10 is to Samsung's Galaxy S III.

"All in all," notes TechInsights, "the Blackberry Z10 seems to incorporate many of the component selections of the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE. It's not certain if these decisions the designers made on what semiconductors, ICs and other modules to use were by design or by accident."

But it's not all good news for the Z10.

The teardown report highlights how "nothing in particular stands out as innovative about this device handset" and that the Z10 "lacks some key apps such as Netflix, Instagram, and others that the average person would want in a phone right out of the box."

As Apple has clearly demonstrated with the iPhone, it's not a spec sheet that sells a device, but a buoyant app ecosystem that handset owners can leverage to make their smartphone unique to them. And it still remains to be seen whether BlackBerry can nurture and build a compelling app ecosystem.

Topics: BlackBerry, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • Talking about sales...

    "As Apple has clearly demonstrated with the iPhone, it's not a spec sheet that sells a device, but a buoyant app ecosystem that handset owners can leverage to make their smartphone unique to them"

    - Apple sells their overprice juck devices only because there are so many ignorant idiots in this world who believes that everything they see on TV adverts are all true...
    • The objective data from customer satisfaction surveys totally supports you

      Oh...wait a doesn't. It supports what AKH said in the text you quoted. Oops.
      • Maybe cognitive dissonance

        I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, but I would not trust the opinion of someone buying an overpriced product thinking is the greatest thing.
        In the end people just want to feel good about the stuff they have and Apple knows how to make people feel like that - kudos to them.
  • did they look

    This is an article about teardown components, just wondering where the apps would have been located, did they check under the sim card? I think they put some apps under it.
    Also did you read how the Z10 is CRUSHING i-phone, S2 & Note 2 so far in customer satisfaction? I know mentioned that in a comment I made yesterday but I felt the need to do it again as no matter what good news there may be for Blackberry, so many writers will find a way to put a negative spin on it. What do apps have to do with a spec sheet? Good grief
  • Blackberry #Fail

    Blackberry has fallen behind. How is this phone going to compete with the Galaxy S4? and the rumored iPhone 5s?
    I think the only way for Blackberry to really join the race is to design a phone much "sexier" than what is currently available. Then redesign the OS to function and look 10x better than what is currently available - I believe this isn't too hard because we as consumers/users/supporters are use to seeing iOS and Android. Mark my words - Either Apple or Samsung will light up their logo on the back of their phone and it will hit like wild fire! (although you can mod the iPhone 4/4s to get this feature yourself)

    They say you have to spend money to make money - Blackberry needs to look at this quote and Go Big or Go Home!

    Currently the way I think about Blackberry ->"Ain't Nobody got Time for That!!!!!"
    • Well, since you're

      in the mood for comparing current in-market device to non-existing vaporware, how are GSIV and iPhone 5s going to compete against BB Aristo (you know, the one with Krait quad-core, 4.65" OLED HD screen and 2800 mAh battery, etc)? See, I look at what I just wrote and I smh because it is a damn silly question. Every phone that ever comes out will always be behind the next great phone that is rumored to be launched. That's how the industry keeps the hype going.
    • Think about what you're saying...

      What you're saying is that Apple will CATCH-UP to Blackberry soon. You said it, not me :-).

      There is another article on ZDNet that states the competition to BB will be able to add some of the BB10 unique functionality of the Z10 with software updates in the coming months, so BB isn't competitive. AGAIN they are saying Android and Apple should be able to CATCH UP to Blackberry.
      Of course, we're pretending that patents don't exist, but the author can grasp whatever straws they choose to assert BB is substandard (in the same breath they're saying it shouldn't be hard to catch up to BB). SMH.

      Hold the phone! I thought Blackberry was supposed to be dead? Out of business before BB10 could launch was a popular view. Guess not.
      And don't think for a second that the new Blackberry is standing still. They aren't the stationary target they once were.
      The smartphone industry should be ready to be shaken, not stirred.
  • Component cost isn't always an indicator of quality.

    Just one example will suffice. I noticed that the iOS 5 camera subsystem costs $10.00 while the Blackberry Z10 camera subsystem was 5 dollars more. (Both are 8 MP systems)

    Every review of the Blackberry camera subsystem reports "average" digital image quality while the iPhone 5 photo quality has been praised as - or near - state of the art for a phone system.
    • With apple on the loose, it is impossible to trust reviews anymore

      "Every review of the Blackberry camera subsystem reports "average" digital image quality while the iPhone 5 photo quality has been praised as - or near - state of the art for a phone system."

      Sad but true, after the fiasco of Surface and WP8 reviews, there is a clear indication that apple has its tentacles very deep into the media. The number of blatant lies and falsehoods that appear in every single review in order to make apple products look better and everything else look worse can no longer simply be waved away as coincidence.

      It is so sad that reviews absolutely cannot be trusted anymore. Some are especially poor at hiding their contempt. Go visit James Kendrick's twitter feed and you will constantly find personal, snarky messages about Microsoft. Same with MG Siegler and his parislemon personal blog site. These aren't "here are the things wrong with product X" posts, they are "hurray, MS didn't do this right". When they show personal glee at things that hurt MS, it makes it impossible to trust anything subjective that they've written and reviews often need to delve into the subjective, like in digital image quality comparisons. Unfortunately, they've both also blatantly lied about objective facts too but at least those are easy to disprove, like when James Kendrick lied about not being able to log in to the Surface without an Internet connection.

      Unfortunately apple has destroyed the internet review. Making any claim and backing it up with "every review" means absolutely nothing, sorry kenosha. There are simply far too many apple paid reviewers out there.
      • Hey Todd, welcome back from your ZDNet hiatus.

        I noticed your postings yesterday. I got a few good chuckles. IMO, you won a few..lost a few. But it's good to see you back, my friend.

        I'm going to ramble on a bit and like all good ramblings, some parts will make more sense than others.

        Although I have been known to endorse a few conspiracy theories from time to time, there could be reasons other than the one you pointed out to explain the results of the Blackberry camera reviews.

        As you know, the quality of the digital image taken from a smartphone camera is influenced by several factors and not just the camera lens subsystem itself.

        I can think of a few things that are equal to and perhaps influence the quality of the end digital result more than the lens system incorporated.

        The software algorithms used - for one thing. The SOC chipset used in the smartphone for another. The synergy between those three main components ultimately result in the quality of the final product.

        You will note that I have not stated an opinion as to which smartphone produces the best digital image. I only state an opinion from personal experience. My iPhone 5 observations follow.

        In optimum daylight conditions, the digital results from the iPhone can only be second to none. I have owned quite a few cameras and video camcorders in my time and I have come to trust taking only the iPhone 5 to "once-in-a-lifetime"situations. I don't have to worry about taking a snapshot or video (in daylight) of a memorable event and thinking to myself, I should have brought my dedicated DSLR equipment with me.

        The iPhone performance in low light situations is just fair. But then again, I can say the same thing about the performance of my three year old Canon VIXIA HF200 HD camcorder. (In fact, low light results are almost the same)

        I can easily believe reviews that state other smartphone low light results are better than the iPhone 5. And, perhaps the zoom results from other smartphones in daylight conditions could be judged superior.

        Still, those personal experiences have been mirrored by numerous online reviews of the iPhone 5 digital results. It might be fair to state that reviews of the Blackberry digital results are equally honest and forthright.

        PS .. I purchased my 128 GB Surface Pro a week ago today at a local Best Buy. (Only one available.) I listed a few comments in Matthew Miller's Feb 15th blog about the Surface Pro - in case you missed them)

        I really enjoy the digital inking experience. OneNote has been a revelation (The desktop app - not so much the Metro app version)

        The Surface Pro will meet or exceed my immediate expectations. BTW, I installed the "Start Menu" yesterday. It make's things just a bit easier in classic desktop mode.
        • Please don't misunderstand

          I actually fully agree with both the idea that component cost doesn't equal quality and that camera hardware fully determines resulting picture quality. What I commented on is using reviews as any type of proof for anything. You are better off asking apple directly what they think of BlackBerry's camera quality, at least that way you are talking to the source of the reviews.

          Glad you like your Surface. I'm just a little jealous, I would own both if money were absolutely no object. I am jealous of the inking. Inking on the Surface RT is at the same quality ballpark as inking on the ipad and that isn't a good thing (except that inking is actually supported at the virtual keyboard level in RT so it is available in all apps, something that is impossible on the ipad). Also fully agree with OneNote on the desktop being far superior. MS has some work to do on the Modern UI version, it pales in comparison to the full version (though to be fair, so does every note taking app in existence).

          I hope your experience continues to be a positive one. If anything, it will drive innovation in a market that really does need some good innovation. Adding pixels and shrinking screen sizes isn't innovative.
  • What sells a phone changes from day to day

    "As Apple has clearly demonstrated with the iPhone, it's not a spec sheet that sells a device, but a buoyant app ecosystem that handset owners can leverage to make their smartphone unique to them."

    It certainly wasn't resolution right up until the point that apple was leading but then it instantly stopped when apple started trailing.

    It wasn't a buyant app ecosystem back when apple was losing this to Windows Mobile, then it was when apple had a higher app count, then it wasn't when Android threatened to surpass apple there.

    It wasn't chip speed when apple was behind, then it was when apple was ahead, then it wasn't when apple fell behind, then it was, etc.

    In other words, what sells a phone is constantly redefined based on whatever phone is currently selling the best. Those features are then retroactively deemed to be the most innovative.

    This explains why Windows has the best features that sell an OS and everything in Windows is more innovative, better implemented, and more important than anything in os x or Linux.
  • Better construction

    Using better component will increase business sales. Business IT looks at it and makes recommendations to management. If the software is about equal it will make a difference.
  • It is only a matter of time before Netflix and other apps are available

    Previous to the Z10 BB's phone's really didn't have the horsepower (well the 9900 and 8910 probably could swing it). Now they definitely do since they have a dual core and a good OS to support it.

    What they DO have out of the box is better email and integration and the fastest and best html5 support of any smartphone browser available.

    Free online and offline backup, free (and better) turn by turn navigation, free lost phone location. Great news aggregator. Direct sync with lotus notes and Exchange.
    • "It is only a matter of time before Netflix and other apps are available"

      Don't hold your breath. The PlayBook has had the QNX OS (the basis for BB10) for over a year now, and not a hint of Netflix, or any other "mainstream" aplications. BB has owned the QNX OS for nearly 3 years...and still we wait.

      And yes children... I do own a PB...although it is sitting on a shelf right to my copies of Windows Vista & MS Bob.

      As has been BB's history...they have promised a lot...and have delivered very little. They did virtually no advertising for the PB...and then wondered why it didn't sell...even at huge discounts. Past & present management just haven't got a clue.

      And why the delay in launching BB10 in the US?

      "In the press Q&A session yesterday, in New York City, one of the first questions Thorsten handled pertained to the reasons behind the later US launch. He explained that it was due to a longer testing process by US carriers. "

      Really? Sounds like just another excuse to well as the author of the piece above.
      • Netflix, Instagram

        The day I bought my Z10 there was already an unofficial Netflix app trending in BB World, as one of the "top grossing apps". It is pretty clear that Netflix knows this, and is aware that they could be raking in that money themselves if there was an official Netflix app.

        Instagram? Honestly who cares, all the silly effects (and more) are already built into the Z10 camera and "share with" any of your real social networks is 2 more clicks.

        People used to say the same about Angry Birds, then Angry Birds Star Wars, then Sketch With Fiends, World Of Goo, Splashtop, Super Hexagon, Where's My Water, I mean come on, the list is rapidly running out, and in the meantime no other device has such an awesome keyboard, or social sharing so neatly integrated, or flow, or such a cool time-shift camera.........
  • Adrian K-H...

    ...I think would be happier writing for MacWorld, etc., where he could preach his biased "revues" to the ready faithful.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • Ecosystem ugliness

    The captive ecosystems being touted by various phone companies is an excellent reason to stick with a basic phone. If one wants all the folderol and flash, why not buy a more suitable device i.e., tablet? Trying to marry dissimilar functions into one tiny device is just asking for trouble.
  • Buoyant app ecosystem?

    Seriously, how many fart apps need to exist? Hundreds of thousands of apps across the various devices; how many are completely useless or don't work right?
    Free apps the won't let you do much of anything without some in-app purchases?
    I personally don't think that having the largest number of apps in your store makes a platform the best regardless of which company makes it. If it did, then Windows is by far the best platform to ever exist; have you seen how many "apps" are available?
    BTW: why can't we call them "programs" or "applications" anymore? Do we really need to turn everything into Twitterspeak?
    Ok I'm done ranting.
    Each platform has pros and cons. Having good hardware and a solid OS is a good thing for Blackberry. Time will tell if consumers and businesses will jump on it. I hope they are still around when my current contract is up.
    • Fart apps

      There are already 54 fart apps in BlackBery World, and a 186 fart-related albums.

      The BlackBerry app ecosystem is F***ING AWESOME for a device that has been out less than a month, how anyone dares to complain is beyond me.