BlackBerry Q10 Review: Welcome Back, QWERTY
The BlackBerry Q10 isn't revolutionary. Unlike the Z10, it's not the giant leap from the old. It is, however, BlackBerry's attempt to keep loyalists happy -- it gives them an update to a tried-and-true product. It also runs on BlackBerry 10 software, so it runs like a new device, while looking and feeling like a classic.
If you miss your BlackBerry keyboard, but abandoned it the iPhone and an Android device, the Q10 will lure you back. It's a well-designed phone with solid physical buttons and impressive operating system.
The design revamps the BlackBerry silhouette, with a shape reminiscent of the Bold -- curved edges and a four-row keyboard. A "glass weave" coats the back for a textured feel that makes it easier to grip. In short, you won't mistake the Q10 for anything other than a BlackBerry. And that's a good thing if you want to come back.
BlackBerry makes room for a keyboard, so the 3.1-inch touch screen is smaller than most high-end displays, but it's substantially larger and more square than earlier models. That also doesn't mean it sacrifices clarity or brightness. In fact, the color saturation of the AMOLED screen is just as good as the iPhone and high-end Galaxy lines --- up there with the best of the best. Regardless of the vibrancy, a 3.1-inch display is a 3.1-inch display -- so don't buy this phone if you plan to stream a lot of videos. It's a workhorse of a device.
Of course, you'll scrutinize the keyboard. And you won't be disappointed -- BlackBerry is known for its QWERTYs and the Q10's well-spaced buttons is makes you want to throw the virtual keyboard away. The keyboard is larger than on older models, despite being split up into silver-fretted rows. But your fingers will fly. I needed to readjust to the physical size, but within days, I found myself typing more quickly and accurately than on any iPhone. Unfortunately, the Q10 lacks the Z10's exceptional prediction text engine.
The 8-megapixel camera features some of the goodies found on the Z10. "Time Shift" mode is impressive, and it allows you to snap rapid-fire shots and select the best facial expressions from each shot. That means you can stitch a photo together, frame by frame, so everyone looks great in the group shot. It's a remarkable feature that can come in handy if you are the photographer for a school dance or a bachelor party.
With BBM, you can video chat with friends. And if you connect with Skype, BB10 lets you run multiple apps at once. That means you can check your e-mail or play a game without closing your chat. Multitaskers can rejoice -- this feature alone gives BlackBerry a leg up on the competition.
But that does not guarantee the apps will knock your socks off. If you want a range of third-party software, you will be sorely disappointed. BlackBerry's store is sparse to say the least. But BlackBerry is hustling to attract developers. It lags far behind Apple and Android at the moment, so hot ticket items like Instagram are out of reach.
If you use your phone for work, you'll love "Balance." It lets you switch between -- and separate -- your business and pleasure environments. It's not just a different home screen, it completely divorce your 9-to-5 business contacts and phone habits from your personal device usage. That means you won't pocket-dialing an important client or a college won't see your idiot friend Larry sends you an embarrassing photo. It's like having two devices in one -- and a must-have for any business professional.
Lastly, the Q10 comes with a powerful 2,100 mAh battery, so it lasts a long time -- substantially longer than the Z10. Of course, the smaller screen helps conserve power, but don't worry about running out of juice halfway through the day -- you'll last. If you appreciate a well-made keyboard, you'll love the Q10. And if you're a loyalist who does business on your phone, it'll be just what you are waiting for. ♦
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