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Hands-on with the BlackBerry Q10 (gallery)

The BlackBerry Q10 is available now on T-Mobile and is coming soon to other carriers. It's a fantastic QWERTY device and continues the BlackBerry tradition with the latest OS.
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1 of 18 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

BlackBerry Q10 retail package

While I am not quite ready to make the Z10 my daily driver after using the HTC One, it is good enough to serve that role. I have been using the BlackBerry Q10 for the last several days and understand why it is reportedly selling very well. It takes all that people loved about hardware QWERTY keyboards and applies the latest and greatest BlackBerry 10 OS.

Retail box and initial impressions

BlackBerry sent me the AT&T version to test out, but I don't see any AT&T branding on the device and there is no AT&T bloatware installed on it. The retail box looks a lot like the Z10 box with the name prominently displayed on the front. Inside you will find the Q10, a battery, USB cable, USB A/C adapter, wired stereo headset, and Quick Start Guide.

I pulled the Q10 from the box, inserted the SIM card and the battery, and then started charging it up. I previously had a BlackBerry Bold 9900 and have to say I am very impressed with the hardware quality of the Q10. The Z10 is a solid device, but unremarkable. On the other hand, the Q10 is probably the best QWERTY BlackBerry I have ever tried out.

The keyboard is well designed and well constructed, the glass weave back feels fantastic, the metal volume and power button feel great, and the 3.1 inch OLED display looks brilliant. I honestly can't think of what BlackBerry could have done more with this QWERTY device.

Hardware and specifications

It is rare to find a hardware QWERTY device today, which makes the Q10 even more distinctive. Let's take a look at the specifications:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5 GHz dual-core processor
  • 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, and microSD card
  • 3.1 inch 720x720 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
  • 8 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel FFC
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2100 mAH removable battery
  • Dimensions: 119.6 x 66.8 x 10.35 mm and 139 grams

BlackBerry 10 is responsive and I did not notice any lag on the device, even with several apps loaded on the device. The QWERTY keyboard is well designed with good button spacing, angled buttons to optimize text entry, and solid backlighting.

Software

I previously looked at BlackBerry 10 in detail and posted several articles on different features and functionality. The Q10 comes loaded with the BB 10.1 update that includes Type N Go Universal Search functionality, improved BlackBerry Balance, keyboard shortcuts, dark theme, mnemonic phone dialer, and more.

To be honest, I never really use Universal Search on the Z10. It feels much more natural on the Q10 and every day I was pounding away on the keyboard to quickly contact people, post to Facebook, set alarms, and more.

I am a fan of BlackBerry Hub and appreciate the user interface of BB10. There is a learning curve, but once you get used to it then you start swiping on other devices.

Experiences and daily usage

It has been quite a while since I used a hardware keyboard device, but I have to say that so far it is pretty refreshing. I have heard people say they can type faster on the Z10 and optimized software keyboard, but I can still fly faster on the hardware keyboard. I also find it a bit more rewarding to get physical feedback as I enter text on the Q10 and am have a good time with the device.

I get another week or so to use the Q10 and look forward to checking out the camera, playing games, and seeing if the keyboard is something I prefer over a larger display. If you use your Z10 a lot for media and games, then the Q10 may not be for you. However, if you use your Z10 for communications, then the Q10 may be just what you are looking for.

Related stories

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The battery is different than what you find in the Z10.

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The glass weave back feels great in your hand.

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The Q10 fits well in your hand and is one of the most compact smartphones available.

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The Z10 and Q10 side-by-side.

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The left side of the Q10 keyboard.

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The QWERTY keyboard is well designed.

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Volume button and voice activation button.

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microUSB and HDMI port are found on the left side.

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The headphone jack and power button are found at the top.

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The BlackBerry logo is present in the glass weave back.

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Multi-tasking screen on the Q10.

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App launcher on the Q10

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Type N Go to post to Twitter

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Type N Go to post to Facebook

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Type N Go to find contact details and related updates

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The Q10 supports auto correction with the QWERTY keyboard.

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You can enable predictive text and then tap one of the three choices as you enter text.

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