After BlackBerry’s make-it-or-break-it Z10 release (our review), a loyal few stuck by their anxious excitement for the keyboard toting model, the Q10. And now that it’s out, how does it stack up? Is BlackBerry 10 as good with the ‘ol physical keyboard tacked underneath and an admittedly oddly proportioned touchscreen up top? All that and more after the break…a couple line breaks that is.
Before Apple made it cool to not care about specs, BlackBerry was doing it. At a time when countless Windows Phone manufacturers relentlessly touted endless spec sheets, BlackBerry chose to sing a different tune. Yes, specs were mentioned at times. But they were never used as the primary reason to sell the phone.
On paper, the Q10 doesn’t exactly look like a class leading fighter. Then again, it wasn’t necessarily ever meant to be. You don’t need earth moving specs for a great experience as iOS and Windows Phone have shown us.
- Display: 720 x 720
- Processor: Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait (LTE version)/ Cortex-A9 (Non-LTE)
- GPU: Adreno 225 (LTE version)/ PowerVR SGX544 (Non-LTE)
- RAM: 2 GB
- Storage: 16 GB + SD card support
- Cameras: 8 MP (rear) / 2 MP (front)
Wow. The Z10 is no slouch in the hardware quality department. But the Q10 feels and looks a step above that even. Lines where materials meet are tiny – pretty much iPhone 5/HTC One quality. The colors of the plastics chosen give it a dark slate matte look (which is awesome). And take note: the plastic feels like anything but…top notch. The Q10 is also surprisingly heavy. Now, it’s not something you should worry about. Instead, you should be glad BlackBerry went with higher quality materials. It may be heavier on paper, but it makes for an overall better looking and feeling device. And really, if you’re complaining about a couple ounces and how your precious hands can’t take it, priorities need to be re-evaluated. Simply put, the Q10 is a sexy piece of hardware that stands at the very top of the mobile hardware game.
The biggest reason to ignore the touchscreen only Z10 is the Q10s keyboard. And while each new generation of BlackBerry somehow made the physical collection of keys better and more of a joy to use, there has to be some point where you just can’t iterate and innovate anymore. Well, that time hasn’t come, yet. They keyboard on the Q10 is fan-freaking-tastic. The keys have a damn near perfect weighting, producing a hearty click when pressed. The spacing is close but not so close that you would have to resort to hunting and pecking. And one of the best features of physical keyboards, the ability to tap one key then roll to the next, works as good as ever on the Q10. If BlackBerry had pushed this out 4-5 years ago, they would have been an even bigger force in the physical keyboard scene. Now, however, as great as it is, it’s still a legacy feature on a dying breed.
With 8+ megapixel cameras being the norm on higher end phones these days, BlackBerry had to bring some power. At 8 megapixels, the Q10s camera won’t immediately impress anyone who hasn’t already seen other high end offerings. That said, it is a worthy camera that is capable of producing some pretty awesome pictures giving a steady hand and the right conditions, and certainly better than cameras of yesteryear Blackberries.
In video mode, you’re getting 1080p content at 30fps. Pretty simple there. Shoot. Share. Move on. If you’re liking for a device that has class leading video chops (and various editing options) you might want to look elsewhere.
Again, the Q10 does what it needs to to stay relevant, doing so well, but never does it jump ahead of the pack.
BlackBerry 10 has already been dissected in great detail countless times since its release. And since the Q10 is merely the Z10 (and its software) with the addition of a physical keyboard, there’s really nothing to add here. Similar to the Z10, approaching the Q10 requires a decent test drive of the OS. You’re either going to love it or be disgusted by it, ultimately making your decision whether or not to pick up the Q10 pretty straight forward. No one wants a gorgeous piece of hardware with software that they hate.
BlackBerry has long been known for battery life. And then the wonders of 3G hit, making things a bit less lengthy. And then with the Z10, higher resolution displays and LTE took things further down still. With the Q10, the resolution and LTE also play a part in the unfortunate average battery life we saw. Many users will make it through an extended work day (12+ hours). But similar to what we’ve seen on many other devices, once you start tapping all the powers within, things head south quick. Our average time between charges was only about 8-10 hours. Granted, it’s not bad. Most people have access to a plug at some point in such a time span to top off the battery. But for those of you out there who were around when BlackBerry was just taking off, you know those 1+ day stints were the biggest selling point. Sadly though unsurprisingly, they’re a relic of the past.
The BlackBerry Q10 is a great phone. It’s small and very pocketable, features top notch hardware and a capable/promising OS. In terms of hardware alone, it’s a definite recommendation. As for software, it’s a bit more of an “approach with caution”. There are apps, sure. The OS is great at multitasking, yes. And of course, the secure nature of the OS is market leading. But the OS is just…different. And that’s going to be the deciding factor. Compared to the various pieces of hardware running iOS or Android, picking the Q10 over any of the others isn’t something we can see ourselves doing yet, maybe ever. While it doesn’t check all of the boxes on our own list, there’s plenty to like here and more than enough reason to give it a chance if you haven’t.
A great phone with a great keyboard. The best of a dying (dead?) breed.