BlackBerry Q10 review
|Review: April 2013|
In a nutshell: The BlackBerry Q10 resurrects traditional BlackBerry style with a beautiful physical keyboard and the touchscreen power of BlackBerry 10.
Today's best buy: BlackBerry Q10 SIM-Free Smar ... from Amazon (£179.99)
Let's get physical - again
BlackBerry built its reputation on smartphones with physical keyboards, and now that all its competitors have moved on to pure touchscreen devices, it once again has the physical keyboard market to itself.
The advantages of a physical QWERTY keyboard are evident to many die-hard BlackBerry fans, and the Q10 delivers a top-quality typing experience. Not only are the keys large, well-spaced and physical, but the keyboard is backed up by much improved auto-correction and next-word prediction tools that learn your style and get better the more you type. It may lack the "smile" shape of traditional BlackBerry keyboards, but it's at least as good as any of the Bolds, and that makes it the best device for typing, ever.
The Q10 isn't very much larger than the old Bold series, but the screen size is larger, at 3.1 inches. It's a touch-sensitive screen, making full use of the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Although the screen is smaller than full-touch phones, in practice this isn't a real problem, as the physical keyboard below the screen makes the available workspace really quite large. It's a pin-sharp Super AMOLED display too, with 720 x 720 pixels, giving a pixel density of 330 ppi, which is the same as the Retina display in the iPhone 5. Scalable fonts are a welcome visibility aid for the over-forties. It's not intended for watching funny videos on youtube or playing games, so forget about all that.
The phone feels rock solid in the hand and there can be no doubts about the build quality here. Picking up the Q10 for the first time may feel slightly like a trip back to an earlier era, but very quickly it feels like BlackBerry never went away.
BlackBerry 10 with a physical keyboard
So the BlackBerry 10 operating system was designed as a touch-based system. How well does it work on a hybrid touch/physical keyboard device?
The heart of BlackBerry 10 is the Hub which provides constant access to emails, texts, notifications, feeds, and calendar events. From the Hub you can view messages and calendar entries together, and can "flow" into contacts, social media updates and so on. The Hub works well on the Q10. As we've already mentioned, the lack of screen size isn't a real problem, as on a touchscreen device, much of the screen is often taken up by a virtual keyboard. The biggest change for users coming from a Bold or a Curve will be the absence of a trackpad or trackball. Instead, you'll need to get used to gesture-based touches, but these should rapidly become familiar and second nature.
If you can't remember how to do something, the Instant Action feature comes to the rescue. Start typing a description of what you want to do, like "email fred" and Instant Action provides a menu of tasks you can pick from.
A range of keyboard shortcuts makes tasks quick once you become familiar with them. In fact, there are over 200 keyboard shortcuts available, which is daunting to anyone, especially a generation raised on intuitive touchscreen interfaces. It's fair to say that there's a steep learning curve here, but once mastered, the Q10 is very much a powerful OS for power users.
Although BlackBerry World is limited compared with the number of apps available to iOS and Android users, there's a wealth of pre-installed apps including BlackBerry Hub, BBM, Contacts, Calendar, a new improved Browser, Documents To Go, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and BlackBerry Maps.
Security is well catered for, with password protection, parental controls, private browsing and dedicated work and home profiles to keep data separate.
Notifications are on-screen, by ringtone, vibration and via an LED indicator and can be customised extensively.
The Q10 uses the same fast dual-core 1.5GHz processor as the Z10. It has a massive 2GB of RAM available and 16GB of storage built in. A microSD card can be added to expand the memory capacity further.
Although the Q10 isn't a consumer product, it still packs in a surprisingly high quality 8 megapixel main camera with autofocus. With a BSI sensor for low-light performance and a lens with a large f2.2 aperture to let in plenty of light, it takes impressively good photos. A dedicated image processor makes the camera fast to focus and take shots. The camera can also record video at full HD 1080p resolution.
The addition of a front-facing camera is a welcome addition, enabling Skype video calling at 720p HD quality.
Full connectivity is a must for the business user, and the Q10 has all bases covered. It's a 4G phone (LTE 3, 7, 8 and 20) and also supports quad-band 3G HSPA at 42 Mbps and quad-band GSM. It has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and you can turn your phone into a 4G mobile hotspot.
Other options include USB 2.0, HDMI, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, GLONASS and NFC.
The Q10 is equipped with a 2100mAh battery, which is the largest ever seen on a BlackBerry. It's significantly bigger than the batteries used on the old Bold series, and bigger than the Z10's battery. This should be enough to deliver a long day of very heavy usage. More modest users could probably get several days between charges.
Although BlackBerry 10 and the Q10 in particular has been a long time coming, now that it's here, it feels almost like BlackBerry never went away. Certainly, all the die-hard BlackBerry users still clutching their Bolds should have no concerns about upgrading to the Q10. A steep learning curve awaits, but one that will pay dividends.
It's true that initial sales of the touchscreen Z10 have been less than mega, but that doesn't mean the company is going out of business any time in the foreseeable future. BlackBerry started out as a niche player, and it's now back in the same niche.
We're impressed by the functionality of BlackBerry 10, we love the QWERTY keyboard and the touchscreen UI. The processor and memory are up to the job, the connectivity covers all bases, and the battery life is impressive. What else could we conceivably want from a phone of this kind?
The Q10 tries to do one thing, and it does it well. It's not an all-rounder and it's not a consumer product. It's a business workhorse, and if that's what you want, the Q10 will do the job. More than that, it will enable you to do your job.
BlackBerry Q10 features include:
- 8 megapixel camera with flash, autofocus, BSI, image stabilisation, and 5x digital zoom
- 1080p HD video recording
- Front camera: 2 megapixels with 720p HD video
- Display: Super AMOLED touchscreen, 720 x 720 pixels, 3.1 inches
- Media player
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, BBM, email
- Integrated hands-free speakerphone
- Voice controls
- GPS & GLONASS with BlackBerry Maps
- Memory: 16GB with support for microSD card (up to 32 GB), 2GB RAM
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, 3.5mm stereo headset port, micro HDMI, NFC
- Processor: Dual core 1.5 GHz
- Internet: Web browser, social media
- Size: 120 x 67 x 10.35 mm
- Weight: 139g
- 4G LTE plus 3G HSPA, GPRS, EDGE
- Battery: 2100mAh
- Talktime: 13.5 hours
- Battery standby: 14.8 days
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BlackBerry Q10 user reviews
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Average rating from 10 reviews:
Reviewed by Steve Humphreys
on 17th Oct 2016
I have been using BlackBerrys since day 1. Without doubt, this is the best yet. A joy to use, robust and great battery life.
Reviewed by vamsi
on 29th Jan 2015
Reviewed by Steve
from New Zealand
on 2nd Jan 2015
Having been a BB Bold user for almost 5 years (9700 & 9790) I am a total convert to the BB physical keypad. BUT - I also use iPad and Mac so when it came to updating my phone I've been wavering for ages over the question of BB Q10 or iPhone. I chose the BB Q10 and I'm so glad I did - it's excellent! True, I did for a day miss the optical track pad and physical menu and and return buttons, but within 2 days I wasn't missing them at all as I got used to the BB OS10 far quicker than I though I would. The keypad is fabulous - the best ever. The screen is fabulously clear and easy to read in bright outdoor light. It's fast and smooth and the difference in the power of the Q10 compared to the 9790 is dramatic. Of course, with a square screen that is smaller than the new big smart phones, viewing videos & YouTube will never match the experience of an iPhone or Android device - but this is not what I use the phone for most. My only disappointment with the Q10 is that the software has not been configured to allow different notification profiles and behaviours for when it is in or out of the holster - e.g. it's not possible to automatically switch to vibrate on and sound off when it's in the holster (i.e. in your pocket) and vibrate off and sound on when it's out of the holster and on your desk. I'm really hoping BB address this at the next OS update. I have one other disappointment - and that's with Viber who aren't supporting the Q10 but that's not BB's fault. Overall a superb phone, and if you're a devotee of the physical keypad, for me there is no other choice but the Q10.
Reviewed by Matt
on 19th May 2014
The best Blackberry that I have used thus far... The touchscreen is so much better than the trackpad, a bigger screen with a 16/9 aspect ratio AND a built in compact keyboard would be the next evolution...
Reviewed by mel
on 26th Apr 2014
Lovely phone. Lightening fast, but no trackpad and no blackberry button. If I wanted touchscreen I'd get one. Apps that were free now cost and most are not compatible, this die hard blackberry fan is not impressed. Off to ebay u go!
Reviewed by Tris
on 2nd Nov 2013
I had been using windows phone for a few years but work changed to blackberry z10. I was blown away with just how functional this phone was so i bought my son a q5. on set up i was amazed at just how fast i took to the keypad. so much so i traded my z10 for a q10. I have never looked back. im not massive on games or films. Being connected is whats most important. I can type much faster on the qwerty and the hub just makes life so easy. Ive learned most of the keypad short cuts so posting to social and searching the phone is so easy. It has great build quality. Calls are perfect. This isnt a phone for consumers, if you want that get a z10 or more so an iphone. This phone is a pure work horse for keeping you connected. Its fast and robust and built for getting things done fast with no fuss. This is not a phone for the many but is perfect for the user it was intended for. This is probably the best business phone on the market by a long shot.
Reviewed by sam from uk on 28th Aug 2013
I love this phone. Die-hard crackberry user who has finally been initiated into the world of touch screens which are actually worth having (unlike previous Bold)
Super quick response and easy to use. Battery life good and the Hub works perfectly.
Camera is top notch too.
Reviewed by Tony from UK on 6th Jun 2013
After reading the various reviews here and elsewhere, I wasn't sure what I would make of the Q10. Now I've got it and had it for a few days, I can only say that it's really nice. Solid in the hand, good call quality, fast browsing etc, unlike Blackberry's of old!
I had a Galaxy S4 and tbh the lag put me off. A powerhouse of a phone but had lag going between menus, wallpaper always took time to load, etc and just wasn't impressed, so I took a chance on the Q10 and I am glad I did. The new OS takes a lot to get used to, but the Blackberry Hub works well. I'm not a big apps user so not bothered about the lack of apps in the Blackberry Store.
The keyboard is as you would expect on a BB. Excellent as always.
Reviewed by Tim from UK on 19th May 2013
Have to agree with Alex below as I faced the same issues. I had to do 3 battery pulls in 2 days and crashes alot. The OS has lots of potential but just feels unfinished. Overall it feels like 2 years late. Only the keyboard is the advantage. Tried it as my daily driver for a week; didn't mind the severe lack of quality apps but even the basics are hit and miss (to much to get into). The maps was just terrible. I had to almost beg the retailer to do a non-like exchange and eventually they agreed. I lost my cash back and tariff offer but got a HTC one (paid £50 more). An awful experience I would not wish upon anyone. I upgrade like most people every 2 years and can afford only 1 device. I prefer physical keyboards but with all the negatives I just couldn't put up with this phone. Such a shame ad its a beautiful device and great keyboard..but why bother when you have amazing alternatives?!!
Reply by Paul from UK on 1st Jun 2013
Cannot comment on the phone, just the need to do a battery pull on Blackberrys.
On my 8520 for work and my own 9900 a press of: 'Alt', and the right hand side upper case button and the 'Del' key will restart the phone. Save the battery pull. Well it works on 6 and 7.1. Perhaps it will work on BB10 too
Reviewed by Alex from UK on 18th May 2013
YET AGAIN BLACKBERRY STILL DON'T SEEM TO GET THE BASICS RIGHT!!!
Everyone knows the Apps are poor when it comes to blackberry versus the iphone apps, however i downloaded linkedin and it's added almost 600 hundred contacts to my phone book, not too much of a problem with any other phone except Blackberry! you can't multi delete, you have to delete each one individually!! why do they still get the basics wrong??
The phone is a huge improvement, the browser actually works and you can navigate webpages with ease.
Sadly my phone has crashed a few times already (3 days old), the maps are completely rubbish and no comparable to Apple or any other smart phone, it's not a massively user friendly system to use and it will take time to get used to it.
If they just sorted out the contacts, apps and maps issues along with the FINALLY SUPERB battery then I'm sure sales would have been considerably higher on both the Q10 and Z10 (which i had returned) such a shame a company with such a great smartphone history STILL getting it wrong after all this time with the most basic of smart phone requirements, I'm afraid i won't be ordering the 289 handsets for my company anytime soon!
Reply by HILLS from UK on 18th May 2013
Do you know that if you go into contacts you can actually turn off things like contacts from twitter, linkedin etc and just have the contacts from your sim card? I have an i5 as well and know you cant compare the two as they are completely different beasts, but keyboard is a joy to use and battery is ridiculously good as for apps well your not going to beat the app store. Stick with it i'm sure you will like in the end.