BlackBerry Q10: Hardware QWERTY and long battery life have a place in mobile

BlackBerry Q10: Hardware QWERTY and long battery life have a place in mobile

Summary: The BlackBerry Q10 is the BlackBerry 10 device that the die-hard QWERTY fans have been waiting for and it doesn't disappoint. It's refreshing to use a hardware keyboard and enjoy long battery life on a phone again.

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BlackBerry Q10: Hardware QWERTY and long battery life have a place in mobile

Long-time BlackBerry users were excited for the launch of the Q10 and reports indicate it is doing pretty well. I was pleased to see BB10 on the Z10 and didn't think there was really a place for a hardware QWERTY device in today's smartphone world. After more than two weeks of using the Q10 extensively, see my initial impressions, I am ready to swap my Z10 for a Q10 and bang away on a thumb keyboard.

The keyboard, long battery life, centralized communications system, and solid hardware make the BlackBerry Q10 an attractive product that stands out from the current crop of smartphones.

QWERTY keyboard

I used to be a die-hard keyboard fan, enjoying both the portrait-oriented ones seen on BB devices and phones like the HTC Dash and Nokia E71, as well as the landscape-oriented ones found on devices that slid sideways to reveal even larger keyboards. I still have the T-Mobile Touch Pro 2 that has the ultimate landscape-oriented keyboard.

Software input keyboards have gotten to be pretty amazing with the native ones on the iPhone and Windows Phone platforms competing with innovative Android keyboards like SwiftKey and Swype. However, after using the Q10 and its QWERTY keyboard I have to say it is a breath of fresh air in the all-too familiar black slab market.

While the keyboard design and tactile feedback is enjoyable, I am particularly impressed with the shortcut/universal search functionality that lets you pick up the device and start pressing keys to get things done. For example, press "T" to see options to add a task, text someone, view apps, contacts, calendar events, and more. Enter "TW" to quickly post a Tweet, access settings, and much more. Enter "text" and a name to jump right into messaging and knock out a message. Enter "F" to post to Facebook, dial a 6, start filtering contacts with F in the name, and more.

You can do something like this, but much more limited, on the iPhone but I always forget to swipe to the right to see this screen and don't find it that useful except to find apps I rarely use. Android has something like this in Google Search, but none of the other universal search utilities are as useful as what you see on BB10.

Battery life

Most of us have come to accept that our modern smartphone will likely need a top off charge to get through the day. Even with a fantastic looking display, push email, and frequent use you can expect the BlackBerry Q10 to get you through a FULL day and more. I still charged it up most evenings, but didn't have to compromise my phone usage to make if from 4:30 am to 9 pm each day.

Communications

IMAG0274

I am a fan of the unified communications found in the BlackBerry Hub and appreciated it on the Q10 as well. The hardware is easy to use one-handed and thus swiping up and over to the Hub is a simple task that helps BB10 serve as one of the best communications platforms I have ever used.

Calls sounded fine, messaging was quick and easy, and BBM is getting more integrated into 3rd party apps.

Hardware

The Q10 is reminiscent of the great hardware designs from BlackBerry in the past and is built very well. I like the feel and design of the weave back. The keyboard is rock solid with perfect angles on the keys. The OLED display has dark blacks, clear fonts, and vivid colors.

I did feel a bit cramped with the display at times when browsing websites and trying to play games. However, for text entry you are going to consume a large portion of your display on a slab with the software keyboard so it isn't much different than what you experience on the Q10.

To stay on the keyboard more and reduce the need for tapping on the display, a touchpad or trackball may have been nice. The Q10 is short enough that I can cover the entire display with a thumb reach, but sometimes jumping between the display and the keyboard can be affect the experience.

The camera performed well and it is nice to see HDR on the Q10 with the latest BB10 software.

Performance

I did not experience the BB Hub delays I saw on the Z10 while using the Q10 and wonder if that is related to the 10.1 update that comes loaded on the Q10 out of the box. Everything was zippy on the Q10, including the Android apps that I use regularly.

Apps

Yes, there are not as many apps on BB10 as there are on other platforms. How many do you really use on a daily basis anyway? As I used the Q10 and tried to figure out what was really essential, I discovered just about everything is there on the Q10 or available via the web browser.

As I use more and more accessories, like the Pebble watch and UP band, then I miss apps on these newer platforms. However, for daily usage I never really felt too limited by the Q10. I was able to make calls, text, email, check and update social media status, capture and share photos, play some good games, enjoy Evernote, check movie times, and more.

I do appreciate some apps on iOS and Android, such as movie apps (Fandango, AMC, Regal), Starbucks, Audible, and a few others, but I can also get by without them. I do enjoy Remember the Milk, Skype, Songza, YouVersion Bible, TuneIn Radio, and more on the Q10. There are so many apps built into the OS that I don't feel the need to have a ton of 3rd party apps either.

Is the Q10 for you?

If you truly must have a ton of apps and have some niche apps that you need on your smartphone, then the Q10 is not for you. If you watch a lot of video content and play lots of games, then the Q10 is not for you. However, you may want to check out the Z10 with its large display and functional design.

If you need to be out and about all day, appreciate a new user interface, prefer a hardware QWERTY keyboard, are focused on communications, and like your smartphone to be efficient then you may want to consider the Q10.

I am personally a bit tired of all the large phones and truly enjoyed the smaller Q10. It was fun to use a hardware QWERTY keyboard again and I was able to bang out text quickly on the keyboard. I may be faster with SwiftKey or on WP8, but the ability to enter a couple letters and do more than just enter text is extremely efficient.

The BlackBerry Q10 is available now from T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T from $100 to $200 with a contract or equipment installation plan. Sprint should be getting the Q10 soon as well.

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Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Smartphones, AT&T

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17 comments
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  • q 10

    I may have to try this. Getting really tired of battery life on my android and typing on a screen.
    kentuckyloan
  • Google intergration

    Matt how would this phone work for someone who uses the "Googleverse" for email, calendar, contacts, etc.?
    willginn
    • Works just fine for me

      I use Gmail for all of my ZDNet work and BB10 connects just fine. I even have my family using Google Calendars and am able to sync multiple calendars to BB10 and view them in the calendar app.

      There is a Google Talk client if you use that as well. I haven't found a Google+ client, but you could use it through a web browser if you needed to.

      There are some 3rd party apps for Google Voice, but I don't use it much and haven't explored those options yet.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • depends on What type of Googleverse

      IF you are a corporate Google user there is no issues.
      My paid for Google Apps account works faster on my Q10 than it did on the iPhone4S. BUT my Free gmail is by far slower than it was on the iPhone4S because Google has dropped ActiveSync support.

      I also find Googles contact sync has always been pretty terrible if you try and sync outside of the Googleverse.

      Since going with the Q10 I've been making an active switch to Outlook.com the only thing I can't leave has Been google Maps which are by far the best mapping tools.
      Stephen_81
  • Exchange mail support

    The interesting thing for me about BB10 on the Z10 and Q10 is direct active sync support for Exchange Mail servers without going through a BES. This makes it so much easier for SOHO business users with their hosted exchange accounts. The UI takes some getting used to but at least it's caught up with iOS, Android and Windows Phone in that respect, though Blackberry may be missing out on some BES and BIS subscriptions as a result. If you absolutely need a physical keyword, this one fits so long as your prepared for the learning curve.
    1000091310
    • Exchange Active Sync support is why I can use BB10

      I fully agree with you. My small company doesn't have a BES and previously my Exchange experience was always limited, often requiring a direct cable connection to sync things up. Integrated EAS works very well for small companies, but I understand it also changes what some were used to with BIS options.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • No Prism and all great!

    Checked out the device today, and it is amazing.
    Nice side effect is that Users cannot become subject to Prism surveillance since Blackberry does not operate servers in the US.
    hacho
  • Apps

    BB Q10 - "Yes, there are not as many apps on BB10 as there are on other platforms. How many do you really use on a daily basis anyway"

    Lumia 928 - "I know apps are not important to everyone, but for my personally there is still some work to do in Windows Phone before I can go all in with the platform."

    Why is it ok for BB10 to be limited in the apps department but the #1 criticism of Windows Phone 8 is the lack of apps? Does the BB really have more relevant apps than Windows?
    BeeCee1972
    • It can (with some effort) run most Android 2.3.3 ICS apps

      While you can't just download and install Netflix or Instagramm from their app store. It is possible to install them and run them. Netflix works on my Z10. Instagramm is available too.

      But we all like Native apps. 10.2 of the OS should provide the ability to run most Jelly Bean apps.

      This capability isn't available on WP8 and porting it is much more work. On BB 10 it is closer to just recompiling.
      DevGuy_z
    • They are both criticized.

      Actually Blackberry is generally heavily criticized for not having a lot apps as well. Even this author says if you are looking for a phone with apps, the Q10 is not for you.
      Vijitc
    • depends what is baked in.

      The difference is in what is baked into the OS. AND what your target usage would be. The Lumia doesn't come close to the keyboard experience on both the Q10 and the Z10, the Lumia's email / calendar experience while preferable to iOS still doesn't match that of BlackBerry 10.

      With the Lumia I was searching for Productivity apps. With the BlackBerry 10 device I have less than 10 3rd party apps installed and it gets my day going well.
      Stephen_81
  • I love the Q10

    I love it for all the reasons the Author says in his summary. The keyboard shortcuts are amazing to get something done extremely quickly on the go.
    Also agree that if apps are your thing, the Q10 is definitely not for you.
    Vijitc
  • BlackBerry rocks

    If you want to play, get a Samsung.
    kooool1
  • dave

    NO the battery life is not that good the, Q10 is not even on the best 10 smartphone list. who wants a tiny screened phone anymore its only got a 3.1 inch screen, physical keyboards are old technology, at least touchscreen keyboards can be minimized so you can watch utube or play a game on the bigger screened smartphones.
    Dave Hargraves
    • And for some, the phone is a tool

      Not everyone wants to watch .wmv files, or play xbox mini games. I know several Women that hate "touch" keyboards (due to nails), So what are they to do? The only question is: How fast will it pass WP in marketshare?
      Troll Hunter J
  • Who says 3.8" is small?

    You are obviously a kid whose major preoccupation is playing angry birds. Any mature adult will understand that 3.8" screen is just the right size of screen for a business phone that needs mobility. Carrying a phone as big as galaxy s4 around is a pain a direct definitely not conducive for any business man or woman. BlackBerry phones are smartphones and not smart toys like your galaxy and HTC without any business usefulness. When you grow up you will understand.
    perryy
  • Did you try any social media apps?

    I'm really glad to hear that you got good battery life with the Q10, because I just read a review by someone who didn't.

    How difficult is it to edit what you're typing without a trackpad or arrow keys? Not having those is what I hate about trying to use Android or iPhone.

    Do you know if there have been any improvements in the Facebook, Twitter or other social media apps from the versions on the latest Bold?
    afmarcom