The new BlackBerry Q10 is designed to appeal to long-time BlackBerry users who might be ready to upgrade from their Bolds and Curves to a new phone. The Q10 doesn’t feature an all-touch experience like most of the today’s smartphones, opting instead for a smaller 3.1” screen and physical keyboard. The burning question is, will this phone revive BlackBerry’s flagging sales, or is it just one more nail in the coffin?
Nuts & Bolts
Powering the BlackBerry Q10 is a Qualcomm Dual-Core Snapdragon S4 running at 1.5GHz with the near-standard 2GB of system memory. BlackBerry 10 runs smoothly on the Q10, and we didn’t notice any performance problems. If anything, the BlackBerry Q10 feels somewhat faster than the Z10.
The battery is a standard 2100 mAh battery. BlackBerry advertises the battery as providing 13.5 hours of talk time and 14.8 hours of standby time. In our usage, we averaged at least this amount of standby time, if not more. The lack of many apps for the BlackBerry ecosystem discourages the heavy use of the smartphone that typically causes Android and iOS smartphones to eat up the battery faster.
The BlackBerry Q10 has a small screen, at only 3.1”. The screen does not support full 1080p HD but does provide a resolution of 720×720. The screen technology is Super AMOLED, which provides excellent dark colors, and the pixel density is a respectable 331 ppi. Text on the Q10 is crisp and easily readable, which is important on a smartphone.
While the screen may sound small, it looks bigger than it is. This is owing to the small, thin bezel around the edge of the screen allowing the screen to wrap almost to the side edges of the phone. We didn’t find the screen quite as bright as we’d like, but it is very good for sunlight visibility. Colors are very rich and deep, especially with dark colors, as we’d expect from a Super AMOLED screen.
The Keyboard & Buttons
With the BlackBerry Q10, the navigation buttons and trackpad are gone, and all that remains is the screen and the keyboard. The only other buttons on the Q10 are the power button on the top of the phone and the volume toggle/mute on the right side.
The keyboard on the BlackBerry Q10 is good and easy to use unless you have fingernails. BlackBerry users will learn the new keyboard quickly, and even those without BlackBerry experience should get the hang of the physical keyboard easily enough. The keys are designed in such a way that encourages pressing them your fingertips, which makes fingernails a bit problematic. Most women will find this challenging at first, but the shape of the keys and the matte coating help keep fingernails from skidding off the keys.
The BlackBerry Q10 features the same camera as the Z10, an 8MP rear camera. While the camera might be the same, we were not able to get pictures out of the Q10 with the same quality as the Z10. In mixed light conditions, our pictures were grainy and had too much noise in them. For outdoor shots, we found it difficult to get much crispness or detail in the shots. A nice additional feature in BlackBerry 10.1 on the Q10, though, is HDR photography. Using HDR mode allowed us to get better contrast and color saturation, and reduced the noise a bit. In addition to still photography, the rear camera is capable of recording 1080p video.
The front camera is a 2MP, which represents an above-average front-facing camera for a smartphone. The camera is capable of recording still shots and 720p video.
Of particular annoyance, the BlackBerry Q10’s camera doesn’t have a shutter button. To take a picture, you must tap the screen or press space bar. This is extremely awkward and makes it challenging to avoid blurry shots in your pictures.
The BlackBerry Q10 ships with 16GB of onboard storage, and supports removable storage by way of MicroSD card up to 32GB. It’s a bit disconcerting that the external storage limits itself to 32GB since most smartphones with a microSD slot support up to 64GB cards, but at least the phone supports external storage. Removing the back cover allows access to the microSD slot; we would have preferred to see an access port on the side of the phone. Taking your phone apart to change the microSD card is tedious and sometimes results in the battery falling out.
Other than music, photographs, and videos, there isn’t much to take up the storage space on your phone. The BlackBerry software market is still rather barren, with only the basic apps that exist everywhere else.
The BlackBerry Q10 features Near Field Communication (NFC) support, which is nice for quickly and easily transferring information between BlackBerries without turning on Bluetooth or connecting to a wireless network. As more merchants begin supporting it, NFC also promises to support easier transactions, such as paying for purchase from your smartphone.
The Q10 also provides mobile hotspot tethering, for connecting laptops and tablets to the Internet through your cellular connection. The hotspot is easy to set up and use and supports the latest wireless security protocols.
The phone also has a microHDMI port, so you can connect your BlackBerry Q10 to a television to share the display with others.
Finally, our favorite feature of the BlackBerry OS is the Hub. The Hub is a truly universal inbox that collects all of your messages from email, BlackBerry Messenger, social networks, incoming calls, texts, and more. It works very well and is intuitive to learn and make the most out of.
The BlackBerry Q10 is an upgrade from the Curves and Bolds of the past. It’s a nice little phone, works quite well, and looks and feels very professional. If looking professional is more important than having all of the software and media options of an Android phone or iPhone, the BlackBerry Q10 will work out quite well for you. BlackBerry might not have hit this one out of the park, but they’ve at least scored a double with the Hub and the sleek, professional appearance of the phone.