Bored of the keyboard? Why I like BlackBerry 10, but not the Q10

Bored of the keyboard? Why I like BlackBerry 10, but not the Q10

Summary: When BlackBerry introduced its new BlackBerry 10 platform and the Z10 I was impressed, but I just can't love the Qwerty-equipped Q10.

TOPICS: BlackBerry, Mobility

The Q10 is the first of the new BlackBerry 10 handsets to arrive with a Qwerty keyboard. And while it may set the hearts of some business users and BBM addicts alight, for me the days of the hardware keyboard are well and truly past.

I've not been convinced that there's a need for physical Qwerty keyboards on smartphones for a while now.

Perhaps it's because I'm never that far away from a laptop, tablet or other device with which to email or otherwise be in touch with people, but the sacrifice of half my screen space (at least) to make room for a keyboard is just too much to bear.

I have no problem with BlackBerry 10 as a platform. In fact, I like the Z10 quite a lot, and as a phone to be used for calls, texts and emails, it really is worth considering.

But when the Q10 landed on my desk a week or so ago, within five minutes I was already frustrated and bored; it felt like using a less useful or intuitive version of the Z10, with a smaller screen. I decided to persevere and after a week with the phone... I still feel exactly the same.

There must be a better way

As I said, I'm never that far from a more efficient way to send an long email than my phone, so perhaps that's why I see no need for a hardware keyboard.

Maybe it is just what you are used to, but given that Qwerty-equipped devices are now the anomaly and the full touchscreen is the de facto standard, I'd argue that the average punter on the street will have a similar reaction to me.

If you view the Q10 as an iterative update to something like the most recent Bold, it's likely to be less of a disappointment than if you walk into a phone shop expecting a whole new experience.

What is unlikely, however, is that anyone who isn't sure they want a keyboard will walk into a shop, compare it to the other range-topping smartphones and still decide it's the best option for them.

The lack of app selection really undermines BlackBerry's platform (yes, yes, I know it's getting better but it's still left lacking) and for the Q10 it's even worse – a whole bunch of apps that are available for BlackBerry 10 are not available for the Q10 yet as they need to be retooled to work optimally for the different screen resolution.

While its screen is a little larger than previous touch-and-Qwerty-combined models, it's still positively tiny if you're migrating from a touchscreen handset. This in itself would be forgivable if it didn't have a knock-on effect on other aspects of user experience.

For example, watching a video on the Q10 is a nearly pointless experience and browsing the web quickly becomes a chore with constant scrolling required – and that's on mobile-optimised sites. Browsing full-fat web pages is more than my patience could bear.

Good for some, bad for me?

I'm not writing the Q10 off for everyone. According to some reports, the UK and Canadian markets are lapping it up, but for me, using a Q10 felt like a return to the old days of mobile, at least in terms of browsing.

I'm not impressed by a phone being good at email and messaging any more; it needs to do more than that.

Perhaps it's just me that no longer likes hardware Qwerty keyboards on phones, as we already know that BlackBerry will introduce new models running BlackBerry 10 later in the year, and it's likely that at least one of them will be a mid-range device with a Qwerty.

Perhaps that makes more sense than a premium-priced Qwerty anyway: enterprises are more likely to roll out a fleet of more moderately-priced devices and the BBM crowd will still be able to afford it, but for me the Q10 is just one more nail in the coffin of Qwerty keyboards on smartphones.

Topics: BlackBerry, Mobility

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • What app are you missing...

    Ok so Apple has millions of apps and Android is getting closer, but what apps are you really missing from BB10?

    I have a Z10 and it does everything I need for business and personal use except Skype and that is due with 10.1.

    I have had a look at my daughters iPhone (one is 21 and the other 25) and I seem to have more apps loaded then they do.

    Its not about quantity, its about quality. BB10 could have 2 million apps and the iPhone 5 million, who cares.
  • i love the keyboard

    I have a z10 and still carry around by old bold. It's little things that I like. Just the simple long press on a key to call my wife or business partner is so simple and i can do it with one hand. On my old galaxy s3 and now the z10 there is no simple shortcut. Sure I could store an icon or go into the phone app, but nothing this easy. There are other great quick shortcuts on the keyboard that I love. I type with far fewer errors also. So when the q10 comes out, I am getting it. I will use my z10 for browsing, camera , international sim and for a second bbm work related pin. Need it for friend status and colleague status. The q10 looks to be superb. My wife will even consider a touch.
    • Time saver?

      Really, press and hold is so much quicker than tapping an icon? Yeah, those miliseconds must really add up over the 2yr contract although personally I don't see how long press is quicker than tap?
      Little Old Man
      • Yes time saver...... Just one tap huh?

        That's a dumb reply. it takes more than 1 "tap" of an icon to make a call. You have to unlock your phone, tap the call button, then tap the contacts button, then tap the name, then tap call the person. With BB keyboard, you just unlock, then hold any button designated down for 2 seconds and it directly dials the contact.
    • No Simple Shortcut?

      Really? On your Galaxy S3? REALLY? This has worked since Android 2.3:
      1. Open the Address Book (on my phone, it's called People).
      2. Locate and tap the person who's number you want to shortcut to bring up the contact info.
      3. Tap the Android Menu button.
      4. Tap "Place on Home screen"

      Now you have an icon on your home screen (or any of the other screens you wish to move the icon to) with the person's name and photo (if you have their photo in their contact info) that will immediately call them when you tap it. I have several of these quick dial icons on one screen of my Droid RAZR MAXX.

      (sarcasm on) Wow. That was no simple shortcut. (sarcasm off)
      • nope...

        "Place on home screen" is not there on LG Chic (2.3) , Galaxy Ace II (4.04) or Galaxy S 2X (4.04). I am not surprised with the bazillions of different 'androids' out there. I can guarantee that this feature has been on BB since at least 2003 with the 8800 series. ALL of them. You cant say the same about Android.
        • possible

          ...and replying to my own comment. I figured it out on the two Samsungs, but not on the LG. Long hold on a free desktop space, pick shortcuts, pick contact (or phone#), search for contact, pick them, hit ok,ok,ok and it appears. Yeah, that easy! Also note it is a dummy link - if you modify the contact, like change photo or add number, the changes don't come up on the shortcut...
          • Not to mention

            you now have all of these shortcuts to contacts crowding up your screen. You can assign a contact to each of the 26 keys, except Q (vibrate mode) and W/1 (Voicemail). I doubt you'd stick even ten contact buttons on your homescreen.
  • @pjc158

    I think he is missing the fart app, i think iphone came out with one, and he misses really bad.
    Please Ben, GET over the app thing its been hypered so much that the world will end.
  • girly fingers or an abundance of time

    Touch keyboards are generally difficult for man hands or professionals who can't afford errors. Qwerty is still needed.
    Jenny Domingues
    • Speaks a woman?

      I'm not being sexist but your name does not suggest knowledge in this area.
      Little Old Man
      • oh wow another dumb reply

        Ha! your at it again. Trolling sites. Why are you even on this site if all you want to do is down-talk BB keyboard anyways. Go back to happy iphone land and enjoy your lack of enterprise security
      • "Little Old man"

        "Little Old man"? And you're not sounding like someone with big hands.
  • Great for the die-hards

    As soon as it came out in Canada a significant percentage of our BB users jumped up and ordered one. The author may be right, QWERTY keyboard units may be going the way of the dodo but there are a lot of die-hard BB fans who like the physical keyboard. The main thing I hear from them is that they find they make fewer mistakes when typing with the tactile feedback. I'd agree that the smaller screen is a drawback so there's a definite trade off and I find it a little less sensitive than it should be - that's something they could improve on. Personally I've had a Bold 9700 for a few years and have also worked with the IPhone, Samsung and Nokia with their attendant OS's. Each has its virtues but I also prefer the QWERTY keyboard and am likely to get a Q10 (or whatever the latest such model is) when it comes time to replace my current BB.

    I'd be curious to see what its uptake is over the coming months, I wouldn't be surprised if sales are better than projected with all the old school BB users out there.
    • Dodo?

      Just because the author never leaves the laptop in his mom's basement doesn't mean that the "QWERTY keyboard units may be going the way of the dodo". The world's a lot bigger place than this guy's basement.
  • Wrong reviewer?

    If this was a car site rather than a tech site, would you get the guy who hates pickup trucks to review the new Ford F150? The review would go something like "I hate pickup trucks, this isn't an SUV, where is the third row of seats etc...".

    There are 10's of millions of people who prefer keyboards, couldn't we get one of them to do the review?
    • Well said

      Wish I could get my 5 minutes of life back wasted on this airhead opinion piece.

      At least the comment above made it more worthwhile...brilliant analogy.
    • seriously

      This is seriously one of the worst reviews of a product i've seen in a while and the analogy above pretty much sums up why.
  • so what

    Stop whining like a girl
  • so what

    Stop whining like a girl