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A closer look at the BlackBerry Q10

- August 20th, 2013
BlackBerry Q10

BlackBerry Q10. (Supplied)

Now, I’m sure many of you hardcore BlackBerry fans have already ran out and bought the Q10. Having a smartphone with a physical keyboard is the main reason most BlackBerry fans have stuck with the company formerly known as Research in Motion over the years, even as Android and Apple phones took over the market.

However, if you’ve already made the switch to another company’s product or never owned a BlackBerry, you might be a little wary to buy the Q10. And certainly, the recent news that BlackBerry is continuing to cut its workforce as it considers putting itself up for sale, likely hasn’t made you any more comfortable about switching.

But, ultimately, your choice comes down to the quality of the device. Is the Q10 worth your money? And the answer is, it depends on what you want to use it for.

The BlackBerry Q10 should primarily be seen as a texting and e-mail device. As this is where the phone excels. The phone offers a full QWERTY keyboard (flat keys with raised edges), which sit relatively flush with the screen above and have similar responsive to a MacBook Pro or a standard Ultrabook keyboard.

I’m a little more partial to the slightly raised keys of the old BlackBerry Curve 8310 I use for work (a device so old, it runs on the Edge network and I just use it for sending and receiving e-mails). But I have to say, even though I’m not the fastest texter in the world and I made a few typos along the way, I composed messages much faster than I could on the virtual keyboard of my Samsung Galaxy S3.

My only real complaint with the keyboard is I wish it had “back” and “close” buttons as you switching from the keyboard to touchscreen for these commands can get a little cumbersome. Especially, when it comes to closing a window. You have to tap the bottom of the screen and slide your finger up. Then the screen switches to a grid showing all the windows currently open with a tiny “x” on each of them to close them. It’s a little difficult to do at times, especially if you have monster-sized hands like myself. Generally, though, the Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen on the dual-core 1.5 GHz phone is fast and responsive.

With the dimensions 119.6 mm x 66.8 mm x 10.4 mm and weighing 139 g, the Q10 is a good, sturdy device to hold in your hand. It comes with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage with a microSD slot which allows to expand the storage by another 64 GB. It comes with a Li-Ion 2100 mAh battery offering 13.5 hours of talk time and 14 days in standby.

And the Q10 is a decent device to surf the web on. On Rogers network, my loaner gave me download speeds of between 1.52 Mbps and 10.48 Mbps and upload speeds between 0.82 Mbps and 8 Mbps. This is a little slow for downloads on an LTE network but the upload speeds are faster than I’d expected. And certainly for regular web surfing, it’s sufficient.

The only drawback here is with videos. The sound quality for both music and videos are quite clean and full. But the 3.1-inch screen only has a 720 x 720 resolution (a 1:1 aspect ratio). So all videos, whether they be SD or HD, appear with black bars or with a cut off image. In the future when phones are made of liquid metal like Robert Patrick in T2, and the keyboard can just melt into the screen when you’re watching videos, this won’t be an issue. But for the time being, when a physical keyboard takes up screen space, there’s really no way to avoid tiny videos, short of an oversized phone or maybe bringing back slider technology.

The phone comes with a 8 MP main camera with a 5X zoom and can shoot photos with a 3,264 x 2,448 resolution and video at 1080p and 30 fps. The image quality is decent. The colours aren’t as rich as on, say a Galaxy phone or iPhone, but the photos have a good colour balance, so less adjustments need to be made in photo editing software. (The 2 MP secondary camera has a bit of a pixelly image in low light, but that’s to be expected.

Unfortunately, the phone’s mic isn’t the best quality. Whereas the speakers offer a crisp, clean sound, videos recorded with the device sound a bit muffled. And this issue extends to phone calls as well. While the conversation sounds clear on your end (assuming the other phone is up to snuff), your voice will sound a little distorted to the person on the other end of the line. Generally, the conversation is still decipherable, but it’s obviously not desirable.

The final drawback with the device is apps. Running on the BlackBerry 10 OS, apps are purchased through BlackBerry World. And there are still many apps that have yet to be ported to BlackBerry, including an official Gmail app, an official Instagram app, Vine, IMDb, Pinterest, SnapChat and Netflix. Now third-party apps can be used in place of some of the ones mentioned and more ones are being developed every day. But it’s something to keep in mind.

All in all, if you’re looking for a phone for texting, e-mail, the Internet and listening to music, the Q10 is a decent choice. The device comes in black and white and is available through most wireless carriers in Canada. Currently, the best prices are $79.95 for a two-year plan with Bell or if you want to buy it outright $599 from Wind Mobile.

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3 comments

  1. robdob | August 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I don’t understand why the author doesn’t better educate themselves prior to doing a review of the BB10 OS, for if he had it would have been clear that Netflix GMAL, Instagram or anything currently available on the Andriod system can easily be sideloaded and used on the BB10 OS. I think this is point which was never covered.

  2. Jack Fitzgerald | August 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

    The future of blackberry isn’t in anyway shape or form in trouble the company will be free of USA market critics that cast a negative light on the company and its future CNBC rejoices in Apple’s & GOOG success and Blackberry woes
    The Blackberry user base went from 7million ’07 (company was profitable then) & grew steadily to 80 MILLION since 2007 when Apples iOS was introduced.
    Don’t be surprised if BB’s 10 software replaces GOOG as the android soft ware platform of choice starting with Samsung and then Sony, the others will follow. The GOOG platform is riddled with virus, spam and other fundamental defects that don’t get the exposure of USA media reports Black Berry does Google and Apple respectively own over 5% of USA GDP and is a very important part of USA return to technological world lender ship.

  3. Adam Swimmer | August 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    That’s a fair point. I didn’t mention anything about sideloading apps, mainly because it’s a workaround that can get a little complicated at times. But here’s an article on CrackBerry.com that explains how to do it for anyone who is interested.

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