If there’s one thing BlackBerry fans have in common, it’s their love of physical keyboards. But many fans were lured away by apps available on touch screen phones such as Android and iPhone. With the BlackBerry Q10, BlackBerry fans can have the best of both worlds: a physical keyboard for typing and a touch screen for apps.
This is the second phone to run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, following in the footsteps of its older sibling the BlackBerry Z10. The Q10 aims to satisfy those who crave the tactile sensation of a physical keyboard as well as those who want to navigate using a touch screen.
BlackBerry stayed true to its RIM roots when designing the Q10, revisiting a classic style while adding features that bring the phone into the future. The style of this phone is similar enough to its predecessors that many people may not recognize that your new phone is in fact new. But as they see you maneuver deftly through the screens and apps, they’ll soon realize this isn’t the BlackBerry of days past.
The phone retains the curved corners of previous generations while streamlining the keyboard into straight rows. Gone is the curvature of the keyboard in the shape of a smile. No longer do the keys need to be spaced to make way for a trackball or trackpad. The touch screen is all you need for navigation.
The addition of the physical keyboard requires sacrificing some screen space. The Q10 screen measures 3.1″ diagonally and is square-shaped, much like classic TV and computer monitors. The screen size allows you to reach from the bottom space bar on the keyboard to the top of the screen with your thumb so you can type and tap one-handed.
What the screen cedes in quantity it makes up for in quality. The screen is bright and the colors are vivid. Text is sharp and easy to read. The screen resolution rivals the Retina display of the iPhone.
The feel of the phone is solid, this isn’t the thinnest or lightest phone around. The Q10 has heft and exudes gravitas, it isn’t a fashion statement. The phone comes in black or white and weighs 4.9oz/139g.
The phone is equipped with NFC (Near Field Communication) and can serve as a Wi-Fi Hotspot for up to 8 other devices.
The keyboard is the biggest draw for this phone and much attention has been paid to its design. They keys are large and well spaced. The surface of the keys is molded so your fingers will nestle comfortably in their curves. If you’re a thumb typist, as many BlackBerry users are, you can type quickly without worrying about your thumbs slipping off of your target keys.
The keyboard retains a dedicated $ key, affirming its intent as a phone meant for business.
The phone comes with 16GB of internal storage which can be increased with a microSD card up to 64GB, for a total of 80GB of possible storage. Connect to Dropbox is a native icon on the phone so you can easily move your content to the Cloud.
The only people who will be disappointed in the Q10 battery life will be those who adore charging their phones. The battery is 16% more powerful than the battery of the BlackBerry Z10, yet the Q10’s screen is smaller, using less juice. The Q10 has a stated battery life of 21.23 hours of usage time and 16 days of standby time, meaning you should be able to make it through a day or two without looking at a charging cable, unless you’re an exceptionally heavy BlackBerry user. I often found my battery more than half full at the end of the day.
The Q10 camera is easily accessible from the home screen, the lock screen and the camera app. The phone has an 8MP rear camera with flash and video and a 2MP front-facing camera. The camera has an HDR mode (High Dynamic Range) that blends multiple shots for optimal images. You can take pictures in multiple screen modes, such as auto, action, white board, night and boost. You can also edit photos on the phone and then share them directly via email, text message, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and NFC.
Here are some sample photos I took with the Q10:
Note that because of the square shape of the Q10 screen, photos are square shaped as well. The good news is that you no longer have to waste any time choosing between landscape and portrait modes. Turn the phone 90° and your view will be unchanged.
BlackBerry’s Hub feature organizes your notifications efficiently in one place so your email, calendar, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, BBM messages, LinkedIn and other communications are threaded in chronological order. Accessing Hub is easy from any screen by swiping up and to the right from any screen, Γ.
A very handy feature of the Q10 is Instant Actions — the phone figures out what you want to do the instant you start typing. Type “mail Joe” and the phone will show you a menu of options, including emailing your contacts named Joe. Type “call” and start typing the name or phone number to place a phone call.
Here’s a video demonstrating the feature:
You can find available Instant Action shortcuts at the BlackBerry Q10 Support website.
The zero key doubles as a launcher of Voice Command, similar to the iPhone’s Siri. Hold down the zero key and say, “Call home,” and a menu of options appears, including calling the number you have saved as “Home” in your contacts list. You can also assign single keys as speed dial buttons.
BlackBerry World continues to grow with over 100,000 apps in the store. Skype is now available in beta/test mode and Kindle is now available as an app. You may miss Netflix, Google Maps, Pandora and Spotify, however Web Apps may get you by with apps such as Google Maps.
BlackBerry World has added music and videos so you now can download those to your device.
The BlackBerry Q10 is available from Verizon for $199.99 with a two-year contract and $599.99 without a contract.
Like the Z10, the BlackBerry Q10 is designed for those who want to get the job done without wasting time. Features such as the keyboard, Instant Action shortcuts and Hub make the phone extremely efficient to use. If you’re looking for a phone with a well-designed keyboard combined with a touch screen, and you don’t mind sacrificing some screen space for the convenience of the keyboard, then the Q10 may just be the phone for you.
Do you prefer physical keyboards to virtual ones? Are you excited that BlackBerry has launched a phone with a physical keyboard? Let us know in the Comments section below!